May 5, 2015

Seven Pounds (Gabriele Muccino, 2008)

WHAT IT IS: An engineer, haunted by the memory of an unforgivable past act, tries to earn his redemption by helping people in need. HOW IT IS: After 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, Smith and Muccino team up for another high-concept drama, this time structured as a mystery. Although sporting an interesting premise, Seven Pounds fails to deliver in part […]
January 30, 2015

Honeymoon (Leigh Janiak, 2014)

Paul and Bea, a newlywed couple, vacation at the bride’s family cabin for their honeymoon. But, even though the chosen setting is remote and bucolic, strange happenings cast a shadow on the freshly minted couple.  What’s most impressive (and refreshing) with Honeymoon is the director’s perspective. Without any spoilers, the big reveal has a lot to do with the filmmaker’s […]
January 30, 2015

Live (Noboru Iguchi, 2014)

In Live, a young Japanese man is forced to participate in a murderous race to save his mother, fighting against similar victims hoping to save their loved ones, a novel relating the same premise as his only guide. Even stranger, the novel’s principal character has his name. Now I haven’t had the change to see Dead Sushi (Noboru Iguchi, 2012) […]
April 2, 2014

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

A big point of contention with historical films on slavery (or The Black Experience, as it’s sometimes naively called) is the way Hollywood films miss the mark on communicating that experience to a mainstream global audience. These movies usually revolve around African or African Diaspora characters and their history between the start of the slave trade in the 16th century to the […]
January 3, 2014

Fantasia 2013 bits IV

I’ll give it my all… tomorrow (Yuichi Fukuda, 2013)   Tired of his mundane existence and office work, a forty something quits his long-standing job to pursue his dream of becoming a superstar comic book creator. Billed as an ode to procrastination, I’ll give it my all… tomorrow is an underwhelming comedy. One could claim that it is involuntarily a […]
December 20, 2013

Fantasia 2013 bits III

Saving General Yang (Ronny Yu, 2013) Betrayed by a fellow general and captured behind enemy lines, the seven sons of the eponymous General Yang leave their family’s stronghold to save their father from an enemy out for revenge, and bring him home. With director Ronny Yu at the helm, and based on a popular Chinese tale, Saving General Yang lives […]
December 20, 2013

Fantasia 2013 bits II

Sweetwater (Logan Miller, 2013) A religious leader, accustomed to being the only authority in a small town in the far west, is confronted by the new sheriff in town and a newly arrived couple who question his power. This is what a great movie should be: great performances, a strong screenplay, a moody direction and cinematography: but also references the […]
December 16, 2013

HK: Forbidden Hero (Yûichi Fukuda, 2013)

The best thing about HK: Forbidden Hero, other than the fact that it’s one of the most entertaining films of 2013, is the joy of having to explain its premise to people, witness their flabbergasted stare and assure them that “it’s really, really good”. Actually, it is really good because its parody comes from a place of love for its […]
December 16, 2013

The Lady Assassin (Quang Dung Nguyen, 2013)

The Lady Assassin, a martial arts blockbuster, is my first Vietnamese film ever. A light Sunday night screening at this year’s Fantasia Festival, it was attended by a notable number of people from Montreal’s Vietnamese community. Billed as a Vietnamese wu xia, in the film, a princess sold in marriage is taken in by a team of high-flying, ass—kicking, thieving […]
November 6, 2013

Ip Man: The Final Fight (Herman Yau, 2013)

Ip Man: The Final Fight is the latest iteration of legendary Wing Chun martial artist Ip Man, after three different films recalling his exploits in China and Hong Kong. Helmed by Herman Yau, the director of Ip Man: The Legend is Born (2010), Ip Man: The Final Fight revisits the kung fu master’s arrival in Hong Kong in the 1950s […]
October 23, 2013

Key of Life (Kenji Uchida, 2012)

Key of Life’s premise is very close to Rough Cut’s (Hun Jang, 2008), but effectively mixes comedy and drama, resulting in a striking aesthetic blend. In it, a failed actor usurps a stranger’s life and discovers he has to pretend to be a killer-for hire, while that stranger, suffering from amnesia, is led to believe he’s the actor and begins to […]
October 22, 2013

Drug War (Johnny To, 2012)

A staple of the Fantasia Festival, and like Takashi Miike a very prolific director, Johnny To had a new film at Fantasia this year called Drug War. Sold as the dismantling by the police of a Hong Kong crime cartel with the help of a compromised boss turned informant, Drug War is so much more complex than just a straight […]