Busan 2015 Review: TWENTY TWO, Sober But Slow Portrait Of Chinese Comfort Women

One of most sensitive topics in regional Far East Asian politics these days, Japan's use of comfort women during the wane of its colonial empire is a constant talking point on the news. Among the more sobering and least sentimental... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: RECORDING Chronicles Charming Cast In Forgettable Story

It's the small moments that work in Recording, a story that is low on ambition but infused with a winning charm even as it drags in the scripting department, particularly in the back half. Sweet and unaffected, Park Min-kook's debut... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: SPECIAL ANNIE Awkwardly Switches From Subject To Artist

Ten years after her feature debut What Are We Waiting For?, documentarian Kim Hyun-kung returns with an intimate film that is both a portrait of a HIV-positive New Yorker and a filmmaker uncertain of her aims. Awkwardly straddling the border... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: BAD GUYS ALWAYS DIE Suffers A Slow Death

One of the more high profile among the many China-Korea collaborations being made these days, Bad Guys Always Die teams Taiwanese star Chen Bolin with top Korean actress Son Ye-jin in an action-comedy (leaning more towards the later) set on... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: ALONE Winds Its Mystery Through The Backstreets Of Seoul

Four years after his experimental 3D shaman mystery Fish, Park Hong-min returns to BIFF with another singular work that offers one of the most compelling examinations of gentrification in Seoul. Alone follows a single character as he hops from one... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: STEEL FLOWER Offers Wilted View Of Korean Youth

A year after Wild Flowers, Park Suk-young returns to the Busan International Film Festival with Steel Flower. Gritty, intimate and centering around a young girl lost in a harsh urban world, Park's latest kicks off on the same foot as... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: REACH FOR THE SKY Goes There And Beyond

The last few BIFFs have each afforded us one great documentary (Non-Fiction Diary, Factory Complex), and 2015 proves to be no exception with the discovery of the timely Reach for the SKY, a compelling look at a common but disastrous... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Busan 2015 Review: ORDINARY PEOPLE Offers Tired Gags In Familiar Situations

Three years after his debut Over and Over Again, director Kim Byung-june returns to Busan with a much livelier effort that strives to mixes social realism and situational crime comedy. Aping the lowbrow comic efforts of Korea's commercial realm, Ordinary... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Camera Japan 2015 Review: OUR LITTLE SISTER Shows The Cold Through Blissful Warmth

For years now, Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu has been making films which have an uncommonly humanist core. Often emotional, sometimes openly feel-good even, his films somehow never become the saccharine dross they would undoubtedly be in lesser hands. One of... More »
By Ard Vijn   
  

New York 2015 Review: CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR, A Beautiful and Beguiling Waking Dream

The Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in his body of work consisting of six features, plus a number of short and medium length films, and also art installations, illuminates the landscapes of his native country in ways that often approximate trance-like... More »
  

Camera Japan 2015 Review: RYUZO AND HIS SEVEN HENCHMEN Banks On Old Farts

Takeshi Kitano's latest film Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen merges the famous director's two favorite movie genres: comedy and gangster thriller. Gathering a slew of older actors from his earlier films, Kitano pitches his geriatric protagonists as a group against... More »
By Ard Vijn   
  

Sundance Hong Kong 2015 Review: Only A Mother Could Love JAMES WHITE

The debut feature from Josh Mond, producer of Simon Killer and Martha Marcy May Marlene, is a tough coming-of-age tale featuring a couple of top-notch showboating performances. However, the desperate circumstances alone do not make for an engaging drama, and... More »
By James Marsh   
  

Sundance Hong Kong 2015 Review: SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME, Good With Reservations

The debut feature from Beijing-born Chloe Zhao focuses on the unlikely subject matter of adolescent Lakota indians in South Dakota. Beautifully photographed and confidently directed, Songs My Brothers Taught Me is a notable first film, marred only by a rather... More »
By James Marsh   
  

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: SPEED, A Youth Melodrama That Remains Perverse

Those who've seen the South Korean indie films I Am Trash and/or Dirty Romance might not recognize that the same director, Lee Sang-woo, is behind a new movie that begins like a very traditional, very conventional Korean melodrama. Oh, what... More »
By Peter Martin   
  

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: THE BOY AND THE BEAST, Hosoda Mamoru's Best Film To Date

If The Boy And The Beast doesn't cast away any doubts that Hosoda Mamoru will become the new king of Japanese animation, I don't know what will. Ever since Miyazaki Hayao stopped making feature films, the world has been eagerly waiting to see... More »
By Hugo Ozman   
  

Sundance Hong Kong 2015 Review: ADVANTAGEOUS, Underachieving Sci-Fi For Tiger Mums

Jennifer Phang's ambitious sci-fi drama presents some intriguing ideas about identity and sacrifice in a uniquely female context, but she invests her budget into the wrong elements, and is unable to fashion her final film into anything particularly engaging.In the... More »
By James Marsh   
  

Sundance Hong Kong 2015 Review: THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Wields Significant Power

The events that went down at Jordan Hall in August 1971 have been recounted numerous times and inspired at least two films already - Oliver Hirschbiegel's excellent Das Experiment (2001) starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Paul Scheuring's American remake from 2010, starring... More »
By James Marsh   
  

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: DOGLEGS, An Intimate Look Into An Extreme World

Doglegs is a documentary that examines the inner lives of some of Japan's strangest wrestlers. The name refers to an underground wrestling circuit that pits disabled and able-bodied performers against each other in the ring, often to horrifyingly uncomfortable ends.... More »
By J Hurtado   
  

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: THE TREACHEROUS Sexes Up History In Convoluted King's Court Potboiler

History gets a savage makeover in The Treacherous, a new period offering from Korea detailing the tyrannical reign of King Yeonsan, long known as the most despotic ruler of the Joseon Era. High on provocation and low on historical accuracy,... More »
By Pierce Conran   
  

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: RUINED HEART, A Doomed Love Song Of Two Humans

Filipino director Khavn De La Cruz burst onto the radar of avant garde film lovers around the world with his 2010 feature Mondomanila. While far from a debutante with dozens of shorts and features behind him, Khavn's film made an... More »
By J Hurtado   
  
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