Posted in Foreign Films

The Red Turtle (2016)

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Credits: Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit. Written with Pascale Ferran. Music by Laurent Perez del Mar.

The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rogue) is a beautiful hand drawn animation by Dutch-British animator, Michael  Dudok de Wit known for illustrating short films, so this  feature film (around 80 minutes long) feels very special.

It came to no surprise that i should love such a film with no dialogue as it was co-produced by Wild Bunch company  (in France) , amongest others and my favourite  movies from Studio Ghibli.

It tells the tale of a man washed ashore on an island. Seeing how desolated the place is, he wastes no time to build a raft using long bamboo sticks, however it is suddenly snapped and he finds himself swimming back to safety.

Desperate to leave the island, he successfully makes another raft using the bamboo sticks, sailing a little further now, whilst feeling uneasy and sure enough something hits underneath it and snaps his raft again.

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Determined to get off the island he makes his third raft and looks cautiously undernearth the water. A few ripples and movements make the raft creak as he gets a stick in hand for any danger and hits the raft for warning but it eventually breaks as he stumbles deeper into the ocean. In the water swims a large red turtle staring intentively into his eyes then swims away.

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Tired, hungry and cold, he yells  in frustration and anger as the night draws in. This is one of my favourite scenes as the orchestral music (which is beautiful and soothing), begins to play as he looks up at the moon. He dreams he is floating away from the island. On another occasion he awakens to see three men playing violin on the beach and screams hey! running towards them in hope, only to find he is hallucinating.

He is a kind man( which is reflected as the story unfolds), who even offers fruit he had to cut down  from a tall tree, to some baby crabs. A man who is just struggling to survive on a deserted island.

The red turtle begins to crawl it’s way onto the sand to which he takes his anger upon, hitting it with a bamboo stick  and tilting it on it’s back and goes back to making his raft. That night he dteams of the turtle floating into the sky, presuming going up to heaven and wakes  in terror.

Feeling guilty as the Sun is blazing down on them, he tries to revive it with some water but it doesn’t do much except crack its shell in half. Is it dead? To his disbelief he realises there is more to this red turtle as something big has changed and his journey on the island continues in a different turn of events.

In its simple form, the message is strongly portrayed. With the sound of the ocean, the wind and the birds, the nature around, seeing is the most believing in this wonderful story.

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Posted in Foreign Films

The Vengeance Trilogy

As much as I love a well made Hollywood movie, I find myself drawn into foreign films as well. There seems to be something very heart warming when I read the dialogues.

There is always so much depth in the characters story that makes it feel closer to home in a sense. Everyone should give them a chance before considering another blockbuster film.

Korean movies are mainly what i have seen most of with the odd spanish and french here and there that are equally great.

I have collected some of my favourite movies that sit proudly on my shelf. This is one of them by Park Chan Wook, whos work consists of crime thriller that is filled with blood curdling revenge but leaves plenty of room for your  sympathy.

The vengeance Trilogy consists of three movies ; Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance ( 2002), Oldboy ( 2003), and Lady Vengeance (2005) directed  by Park Chan-Wook that all deal with revenge.

The movies display a strong symbolic theme of deprevation from each character, the feeling of losing something so valuable that it makes you lose your humanity.  The movies have their own stories  but i love all three films so it made more sense to have the box set.

As far as sympathies go, Ryu is a deaf-mute man who works in a factory. His dying sister is need of a kidney transplant with no match. With barely enough money for her operation from a lucky donor, Ryu and his girlfriend (who is in a strange anarchist gang)  make a plan to kidnap the daughter of the guy who fired him from his job.  They justify their actions by saying “the bad image kidnappers get is because of kids getting killed but we’re different”. 

Within few hours, mayhem kicks in when the kidnap turns into a hot mess, resulting in the two men at war for their daughters demise.

There are some rough scenes of what i can only describe as a handful of blood, as Parks movies tend to display which add to the depth of the characters brilliant acting, and clearly we see their raw emotions on screen.

With some gory moments, it is also that presice  feeling of being cheated on life, filled with so much anger that you are fixated on killing from what was rightfully taken from you.

Your mentality can only stretch  so far into madness when Dae-Su is seen to be imprisoned in a tacky hotel room for fifteen years for reasons later revealed. With occasional food and a tv, he learns of his wife’s murder and that he is her apparent murderer.

When he is finally released in a small suitcase, awakened in a suit on a rooftop, Dae-Su soon puts his fighting skills to good use (with his odd choice of a hammer)  on some attackers that get in his way whilst trying to locate his daughter.

A memorable scene of a drunken like man putting up a clumsy but well executed death that feels realistic and  would only come so naturally  after being tortured for so long.

With revenge of hunger on his mind “i want to eat something alive” you clearly realise he is not just after some live octopus to hug his face. (Think of eating some spicy food you enjoy but gives you heartburn yet here you are still eating it). In a bizzare way that’s the impression I got from his facial expression.

With some gruelling moments of madness and greatly shot fighting movements, this is a  visually beautiful movie that shows deprivation of a man who has lost so much of his life. This will have you bite your tongue at the very end.

Nothing could prepare lady Geum- ja  for what she had in store for her victim; a murderer of a five year old boy. Coming out of prison for a murder she did not commit she has a mind full of anger and grief from parting from her little  girl and  everything she has been through but had put up a facade of being reformed in her ‘good nature’ to this crime.

There is a great shot at the start of her release, where tofu is brought to her as a cultural welcome which she throws to the ground “why don’t you go screw yourself” and walks away, which marks the start of her anger brewing towards those who showed her a cruel fate.

With her blood red eyeshadow “because I don’t want to look kind hearted” and a disheartened mind, Geum-ja goes in search for her daughter and to find the real murderer- a high school teacher by the name of Mr. Baek. She soon realises alot has changed since her time in prison  and is horrified at learning there is more evil to this man who she trusted to help her, who used her and stole from her and threw her away, which fuel more of her hatred for him.

It is not just a story about revenge but a mother, a woman in her own rights who has been stripped from her freedom and cannot bear to find sympathy in her actions. After all revenge is best served cold.

Posted in Foreign Films

Train to Busan

When I thought zombie films were quite..dead for awhile, Train to Busan surprised me. I didn’t  know what to expect, only that I felt I had seen most of the better ones made to date, and didn’t know if it would be anything out of the ordinary, the countless undead can get tiring for the human mind.

What Intrigued me  is the fact I always seem to enjoy Korean movies of choice and hearing  of a zombie one was exciting enough as I am drawn to movies of this kind.

Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is a divorced father spending his visiting time with his daughter Su-an (Kim Su- an) who he rarely sees due to his commitment at work. The kind of father who buys two Nintendo Wii and “makes promises you can’t keep” as his daughter sadly points out.

As her birthday wish is to visit her mother in Busan, the pair make a train journey to hell when a young infected woman frantically boards the train, unnoticed by the conductor who panics ” this can’t be happening “, whilst wrapping up her wounded thigh. I’m afraid  to tell you.. It’s happening.

Before the outbreak, the director has managed to capture the characters personality on this journey which builds up the tension slowly but surely, unknowing to them, as the camera cuts to a secluded part of the carrage of the dying woman on the floor.

20170103_165621-1-1Meanwhile we see two elderly sisters who remark ” don’t eat too much boiled egg, you’ll be passing gas”.  A man with his pregnant wife timidly asking her from a long -awaited locked  cubicle “ baby are you ok”,  a selfish businessman who doesn’t want to be here for long, an oddball homeless looking  man and a bunch of athletes. Great! the gangs all here, now we can continue the train ride.

It’s not long before the walking dead are jolted back to life with disjointed bodies and throats are being ripped open and legs are chewed upon, whilst we venture through the claustrophobic narrow halls that are the gateway to their escape. Now would be a good idea to stack up some luggage.

I kept wondering what would have occurred if the train wasn’t as fancy with the several toilet cubicles and doors which serve as useful  survival routes for the people.

There are moments of the action that seemed to be  dragged out whilst the zombies are sparsed in different directions outside the train, but it is entertaining to see how it would all pan out.

Visually there are great scenes where the zombies are awkwardly mounted on each other, as recognised in World War Z and a horde  of zombies climbing the escalators.

A few blood filling moments later you realise it plays greatly on instincts and survival tactics by everyone on the train and the lengths people would go to protect themselves and their loved ones.  An endearing movie about sacrifice that makes  this a tasteful movie to sink your teeth into.

Credits: Directed by Yeon Sang-ho. Written by Park Joo-suk. Cinematography by Lee Hyung- deok. Music by Jang Young- gyu.

An animated prequel was made by the same director which I will shortly be on board to watch.