CLIFF WALKERS (FILM REVIEW)

A Zhang Yimou film is always an event. As one of this generation’s most iconic Asian directors, Zhang has been able to transition from more independent efforts to commercial titles with great success, receiving critical acclaim for his earlier works Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern, and popular appeal with Hero, House of Flying…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

BOMBSHELL (FILM REVIEW)

Playing out one of the most important chapters – the prologue if you will – of the #MeToo movement, Bombshell drops us into the frenetic offices of Fox News to witness the buildup to the sexual harassment allegations levelled at media mogul Roger Ailes. Director Jay Roach and writer Charles Randolph doesn’t go full The…

TOOTSIES & THE FAKE (FILM REVIEW)

For the uninitiated, tootsie is a affectionate term used in Thailand for a campy gay guy. And celebrating this without restraint, Line TV created a series based on the online accounts of Thachpacha Setthachai, a proud tootsie who does a Carrie Bradshaw and recalls the many humourous episodes he has with his three best friends…

THE AERONAUTS (FILM REVIEW)

To be honest, the trailer was a little underwhelming. The Aeronauts seemed to pitch the adventure of a lifetime in the air, and with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones offering captainship, the premise seems to have some heft. But are a sea of clouds and fluttering butterflies enough to strike wonder in this age? With…

DETENTION (FILM REVIEW)

Wrapping a terrifying story around a true period of human horror, Detention is a layered tale that’s heavy on scares, but also dripping ripe with messaging. Touching on the political scene in Taiwan in the 1960s, it unfolds in the White Terror period, which was an era of martial law in the country that lasted…

ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP (FILM REVIEW)

Sequels have it hard. Zombieland raked in commercial and critical success for taking the audience off-guard in a period of zombie titles, so what can Zombieland: Double Tap bring to the table? The answer is – plenty. The franchise capitalises on three things: astute witticisms, irreverent self-awareness and unabashed caricultures. With that, the sequel has…

COUNTDOWN (FILM REVIEW)

There’s nothing terribly unpredictable about this – but that might not be a bad thing at all. Like Scream, Final Destination and any franchise with over 5 chapters, formulaic horror has an appeal of its own. Countdown has nothing of a reputation to bank on, but it follows a proven model and manages to get…

THE CURRENT WAR (FILM REVIEW)

If you’ve read up a little bit about this project, then you’ll know that this was one of Weinstein’s last work before his entire film career and company collapsed from the sexual allegations. The Current War, with its polished production and high-profile casting premiered to a small (and unimpressed) crowd at Toronto International Film Festival…

METAMORPHOSIS (FILM REVIEW)

South Korea is really gunning for their own Exorcist hit. From TV titles like The Guest (2018) to movies like The Priests (2015), The Wailing (2016), House of the Disappeared (2017), and most recently, The Divine Fury (2019) and Netflix’s, Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019), it seems that the priest protagonist remains as enigmatic as…

REVENGE OF THE PONTIANAK OR DENDAM PONTIANAK (FILM REVIEW)

Probably one of the most enigmatic and popular supernatural entity in this region, the pontianak is to Southeast Asia what Sadako is to Japan.  Based on popular mythology, she is the ghost of a woman who died pregnant or during childbirth, and boy is she angry! Appearing as a beautiful woman to lure victims to…

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (FILM REVIEW)

“Why she so curious?” “I thought she returned the book?” “Why they return to the house?” To a movie reviewer, nothing is scarier than a viewer who needs to verbalise her mind. And to the teenage girl in question, the answer to all of your question is: Because this is a movie, so just watch…