THE HYPNOSIS (FILM REVIEW)

When it comes to hypnosis, you usually belong in one of the two camps: Those that believe and wish to try, and those that don’t but would also like to try. Suffice to say, The Hypnosis is eager to tap into this fascination for this fledgling science, though practitioners might not appreciate the dramatic slant…

SEOBOK (FILM REVIEW)

Mention of this film locally has quickly drawn reference to crispy pork belly (even from my editor), given how similar the two are when spelled out. But this is a film review and not a food review so all jokes aside… On the name, director Lee Yong Zoo explained, “Emperor Qin of China was a…

CAN GREAT FILMS CHANGE THE WORLD?

SK-II thinks so, with the creation of SK-II STUDIO. As a film student, I learnt to look past the entertainment facet of the medium, and into the art of its expression. Hirokazu Koreeda became known to me through the film Shoplifters, and the watching left me haunted for days to come. His gift of translating…

POSSESSOR (FILM REVIEW)

Cronenberg. The surname itself signals that Possessor is going to be deeply provocative. Son of David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg, is fully realising every bit of his family’s legacy with Possessor. The sci-fi horror checks all the heritage hallmarks – body horror, unflinching gore, ethical conundrums and brutal delivery – all somehow still wrapped in a…

THE BOX (FILM REVIEW)

With some members beginning their enlistment, SM Entertainment has officially announced that EXO’s future will be moving towards more solo projects. It is a timely balm then for fans of the 9-member boy band, that The Box stars one of the two prominent rappers in the group – Chanyeol. While the band was known for…

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH (FILM REVIEW)

In this biographical depiction of revolutionary Fred Hampton, director Shaka King condenses the events of his influential years as a chairman in the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, that inevitably led with his assassination in 1969. He was 21.   But the focus here is less on his incredible charisma that realised a “rainbow…

MINARI – FILM REVIEW

Two months into the new year and we may very well have another Parasite on our hands. Minari is Lee Isaac Chung’s feathery opus, chronicling an immigrant family trying to take root in a new motherland while earning their own particular version of success. It’s a gentle story held aloft by deceptively easy story-telling, yet…

BELFAST NEED NOT PLAY SECOND TO NONE

The second-largest city in Ireland has plenty to offer to warrant inclusion in your itinerary. Think of Dublin and you think of grand Irish cheer and charm. Think of Belfast and you think of nothing but conflict. But is it warranted? In this piece for Expedia, I check in and find plenty to discover in…

BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY (FILM REVIEW)

At one point, I almost choked on my coffee. So zippy are the liners coming from Breaking News in Yuba Country, that I’d suggest one be careful with your concession fare, lest it ends up in the wrong orifices. It could be a side comment, a fleeting look or just full-on slapstick, but the pitches…

SUPERNOVA (FILM REVIEW)

When the film begins quietly in the motorhome of Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), one almost instantly feels intrusive – such is the simmering tenderness coming from the on-screen lovers. As Supernova unfurls, the story of this middle-aged couple facing obstacles from a medical predicament is teased out in similar fashion. Tucci displays…

STIGMATIZED PROPERTIES (FILM REVIEW)

Would you stay in a stigmatized property? Just the thought of it might make some skins crawl. Stigmatized properties are residential places for rent or purchase, but with one big twist – someone’s passed away in them before. Sometimes this is a little more peaceful, where the occupants die during their sleep. Other times it’s…

THE CON-HEARTIST (FILM REVIEW)

Besides sinful Mookatas, fiery Tom Yum soups and delicious Phad Thai, it’s safe to say that the Thai have cornered the market on wacky humour on-screen. It’s not just in movies, but you’ll likely have seen one of those twist-ending ads that drops a curveball of an ending after an emotional wringer. But a victim…

BRAVEN – MOVIE REVIEW

The thing about superhero blockbuster (as much as I enjoy them) is that sometimes the audience doesn’t worry about our leads. We know they will come out unscathed. And when the hero looks like Jason Momoa – in a forest of trees, this man is a sequoia – it’s even easier to believe that they…

SOUL SNATCHER – MOVIE REVIEW

In the myth-rich troves of China folklore, there are likely a million entities written about to bless, curse, scare or just remind us what it means to be human. At this intersection of the godly, demonic and human natures, storytellers have been seeking to investigate ethics and morals, while offering up philosophical revelations. They are…

THE CURSED LESSON – MOVIE REVIEW

With all the societal pressure to look good in South Korea, especially when set against such demanding standards, it’s always heartening to see the media tackling the topic. And what better way to exemplify obsession than with the horror genre? Similar to this year’s earlier Beauty Water, the chase for attractiveness leads only to gory…

SAMJIN COMPANY ENGLISH CLASS – A REVIEW

The title seems to suggest a language-centric comedy, but Samjin Company English Class holds a lot more sass in class than playing up botched English deliveries. There’s a great deal of messaging here, from hierarchical ceilings to gender discrimination, but most of all, that doing the right thing might be tough, but always worth it…

THE WIDOW (VDOVA) – A REVIEW

As each country’s film industry finds renewed interest in the horror genre in the last decade, we are seeing interesting projects coming out from lesser-heard places, such as Iran (Under the Shadow). While Russia is relatively known, the scares coming from the country have been a little short, surprising given the rich folklore and austere…

THE SILENT FOREST – A REVIEW

All too often, there are some topics in life we tiptoe around. We either gloss over them, avoid them, or deny them altogether, and even more so when it presents uncomfortable or unfamiliar truths. So imagine when two of those themes come together. The Silent Forest is a bold and disturbing look into the effects…

THE SWORDSMAN – A REVIEW

To me, modern action has nothing on period pugilistic pieces. Guns, lasers, cars and bombs rarely need skill, and filmmakers often depend on bigger explosions to one-up excitement. The clash of fists and swords in comparison, feels more elegant, and often results in a more satisfying payout. They are called martial arts for a reason….

COFFEE OR TEA? 一点就到家 – A REVIEW

Like the double-yolked egg or the extra piece of McNugget, life can be full of pleasant surprises. Coffee or Tea turned out to be one of them. What seemed like a predictable fish-out-of-water story of three unlikely business partners, turned up with some really good dramatic moments within moving themes on home, family, and friendship….

JIANG ZI YA: LEGEND OF DIEFICATION – A REVIEW

If the opening credits are anything to go by, this project took a LOT of work. Studio after studio flashed their vanity intros across the screen, but the most significant contributor is clearly Coloroom Pictures. Initially bought over by Beijing Enlight Pictures to establish themselves as a Chinese animation powerhouse on par with Disney’s Pixar…

OKAY! MADAM – A REVIEW

With leisure travel not returning anytime this year, a movie about flying will either seem like unnecessary torture, or a wonderful temporary escape. Thankfully, with its wacky ensemble and riotous plot, Okay! Madam is likely the latter for its audiences. Mi-Young (Uhm Jung-hwa) is your gregarious stallowner, hawking donut twists and effusive compliments. She’s well-liked…

THE TUNNEL (TUNNELEN) – A REVIEW

Norway has more than 1,100 road tunnels, with only a few of them designed with emergency rooms or escape routes. Some would call this a recipe for disaster or a ticking time bomb but it’s the reality for Norwegians. Since 2011, eight big fires – including one in 2015 involving a tanker truck with 16,500…

I WEIRDO – A REVIEW

Living with a younger brother with autism, I have a front-row seat to how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects one’s life. The term is used loosely these days for people who fuss over small discrepancies, say a slightly tilted photo frame or their colour-coordinated stationery, but for people like my brother, it is less a…

BEAUTY WATER (FILM REVIEW)

The beauty industry, at last count, was a 532 billion dollar industry. And with Korean skincare and cosmetics trends leading the way for growth in the male sector, one can only imagine how important looking groomed is turning out to be. Let’s admit it – we are swayed by attractive people. There’s even a psychological…

JAPANESE ETIQUETTE 101: REMINDERS FOR YOUR NEXT VISIT

Renowned as one of the most courteous and systematic countries in the world, I wouldn’t blame the first-time visitor to Japan for being overwhelmed. And even if you manage to figure out the subways and navigating the rush hour throngs, there is always the fear that one might make some social faux pas and that…

REVENGE WITHOUT THE FRILLS

Revenge films a la Kill Bill and Old Boy has seen great success from individuals honing their anger into a fine point. Their skills are near supernatural – a nod to their intensity and focus – which stirs the blood in all of us. But would this happen in real life? Cold in July and…

LOVE YOU FOREVER (FILM REVIEW)

China’s movie-making efforts have largely fallen either towards epic fantasy and dramatic action flicks, or the overt comedy that basically doubles as a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s only the odd while you’ll get a romantic piece. Love You Forever is one of these rare attempts, and true to form, features a sprinkling of fantasy…

GREENLAND (MOVIE REVIEW)

There’s nothing like timing a disaster film to coincide with a similar real-life event – minus the devastating consequences of course. Ric Roman Waugh’s Greenland has been released just as the comet Neowise is coursing through our skies. The astronomical phenomena was at its brightest on 22 July, becoming as bright as the North Star…