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TV Wednesday - Strong Girl Bong-soon (13-16)

For February, I will be watching one of the most popular Korean dramas of definitely the past decade and possibly of all time. I don’t know why this series had to go on so long. Even though 16 episodes is actually not that long for a Korean drama, the most interesting plot, the serial kidnapper one, could have been resolved in half the time (and been a much better series as a result). Instead, to fill the time, we follow the leader of the gang that is trying to take over Bong-soon’s neighborhood as he tries to repent of his former criminal ways after Bong-soon single handedly defeats 30 of his men (an admittedly awesome scene). We spend quite a bit of pointless time following him and a coupl

Theme Tuesday - Ringo Lam - Full Contact (1992)

For February 2019, I will be exploring the works of Hong Kong action director and master Ringo Lam, who passed away last year. Ringo Lam has stated that he wanted to put his political films (the On Fire films fall in this category) behind him, largely because of the pressure that he was getting from the government and powerful people. I would say that he succeeded. Full Contact is a somewhat straightforward revenge movie in which Ko Fei is left for dead by a gang that betrays him (including his own cousin). We see him go through a training montage while, in his absence, his cousin Sam also ingratiates himself with Fei’s girlfriend in typical slime ball fashion. We’ve seen these tropes in so

Favorite Films of 2018 (6-1)

2018 wasn’t the best year for blockbusters though movies like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians made history. The Oscar nominations are home to such dreck as Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, which only goes to show how out of touch that institution is and how badly needs it to be overhauled. However, 2018 was a great year for documentaries, indie films, female directors and new talent in general, and I can easily see many of these films as the starts of long, fruitful careers or major influences on newer generations of filmmakers. 6. Night is Short, Walk on Girl, dir. Masaaki Yuasa, starring Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, et al I truly have seen very few films as visually outrageous and expe

Uncaged - Fire Birds (1990) & Zandalee (1991)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Fire Birds (1990) This is the first truly forgettable movie in the marathon, which I didn’t think was possible simply because of Nicolas Cage’s presence. It’s essentially a Top Gun ripoff with little of the joy or cheesy memorableness of that movie, but the jingoism sure as hell is intact. The movie was made by two military men after all. I feel most movies about the Air Force are most prone to this blind patriotism simply because the enemy is far away, making it easy to dehumanize them. It was probably asking too much of this movie

TV Wednesday - Strong Girl Bong-Soon (9-12)

For February, I will be watching one of the most popular Korean dramas of definitely the past decade and possibly of all time. So this is when the other shoe drops. What I mean is the tendency of Korean dramas to have really strong beginning episodes, but the quality drops off considerably in the second half of the series. The fatal mistake they make this time is to steer away from the serial kidnapper plot, which had been relatively tense and well-executed up to that point. Instead, the creators decide that it’s high time that Bong-soon gets that long-promised promotion to a creative developer at her boss’ company. The big disaster comes in the form of Oh Dol-ppyeo, Bong-Soon’s new boss. He

Theme Tuesday - Ringo Lam - School on Fire (1988)

For February 2019, I will be exploring the works of Hong Kong action director and master Ringo Lam, who passed away last year. While the two movies of Lam’s that I had seen before took place in worlds where it was reasonable to expect danger (the criminal underworld and prison), School on Fire is perhaps one of the most realistic in that young people in neighborhoods outside the purview of “respectable” civilization face violence on a regular basis. Chu Yuen-Fong, a schoolgirl, testifies in a triad-related killing against the advice of her peers. Her noble deed only brings almost a farcical amount of trouble, as she is kidnapped and threatened with sexual violence and her friends around her

Favorite Films of 2018 (13-7)

2018 wasn’t the best year for blockbusters though movies like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians made history. The Oscar nominations are home to such dreck as Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, which only goes to show how out of touch that institution is and how badly needs it to be overhauled. However, 2018 was a great year for documentaries, indie films, female directors and new talent in general, and I can easily see many of these films as the starts of long, fruitful careers or major influences on newer generations of filmmakers. 13. Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, et al I firmly

Uncaged - Wild at Heart (1990)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Wild at Heart (1960) When I first saw this film, I was relatively new to David Lynch and serious, critical movie-watching in general, and I did not know what the hell to make of this. The film starts off with extreme violence from Nicolas Cage’s Sailor as he fends off a would-be murderer. His vigorous self-defense ends up killing his assailant, and it also lands him in prison for manslaughter. I’m not sure I really got past that first extreme moment because it set expectations for a film that decidedly did not go the way I thought i

TV Wednesday - Strong Girl Bong-Soon (5-8)

For February, I will be watching one of the most popular Korean dramas of definitely the past decade and possibly of all time. The predictable plot elements are clicking into place. The love triangle between the three main characters follows a lot of patterns. The rich, jerky guy has a position of distinct power over the protagonist. The guy that she is currently interested in is from her class, but complications exist of course. He has a girlfriend, and he has no idea that she is crushing on him hard...or his own feelings for her. The most effective episode is episode 6 since the two male leads are literally competing over her in a variety of games - pool, darts, etc., again leaning hard in

Theme Tuesday - Ringo Lam - Prison on Fire (1987)

For February 2019, I will be exploring the works of Hong Kong action director and master Ringo Lam, who passed away last year. I am so used to see Chow Yun-Fat in serious mode that I still haven’t gotten used to seeing him in a more comedic role, despite the overwhelming seriousness of the rest of this movie. Perhaps Lam knew he couldn’t get away with unrelenting darkness for this movie, although Chow Yun-Fat's character is hardly just a clown. He carries a dark past of his own with him. Lo Ka Yiu (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is charged with manslaughter when he accidentally kills a robber who had been robbing his father’s store. Chow Yun-Fat’s Ching is basically his only ally in a place rife with br

Favorite Films of 2018 (18-14)

2018 wasn’t the best year for blockbusters though movies like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians made history. The Oscar nominations are home to such dreck as Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, which only goes to show how out of touch that institution is and how badly needs it to be overhauled. However, 2018 was a great year for documentaries, indie films, female directors and new talent in general, and I can easily see many of these films as the starts of long, fruitful careers or major influences on newer generations of filmmakers. 18. If Beale Street Could Talk Dir. Barry Jenkins, starring Kiki Layne, Stefan James, Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King, et al Beale Street follows Tish and Fonny

Uncaged - Vampire's Kiss (1988) & Never on Tuesday (1989)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Vampire’s Kiss (1988) So this is where all those Cage memes come from. This is the movie that people are thinking of (even if they’ve never seen it or heard of it) when they are thinking of crazy Nic Cage. Cage plays a literary agent who believes that he has become a vampire after a bloodier than usual tryst with Jennifer Beals’ character. The movie is meant to be a dark comedy that explores whether Cage’s character is mentally ill or not, but it just becomes comedy and flat out farce due to some lifeless direction. The best thing t

Favorite Films of 2018 (25-19)

2018 wasn’t the best year for blockbusters though movies like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians made history. The Oscar nominations are home to such dreck as Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, which only goes to show how out of touch that institution is and how badly needs it to be overhauled. However, 2018 was a great year for documentaries, indie films, female directors and new talent in general, and I can easily see many of these films as the starts of long, fruitful careers or major influences on newer generations of filmmakers. 25. Shirkers Dir. Sandi Tan While it falls into a long line of documentary thrillers (Three Identical Strangers, Tickled, Dear Zachary), Shirkers stands apart i

TV Wednesday - Strong Girl Bong-Soon (Ep. 1-4)

For February, I will be watching one of the most popular Korean dramas of definitely the past decade and possibly of all time. I’m coming to Strong Girl Bong-Soon with a sort of love-hate relationship towards Korean dramas. Most K-dramas are unbelievably cheesy and ridiculous, yet they are so eminently watchable for most people. There a lot of factors for this love; beautiful people in easy-to-follow stories with a lot of drama and romance. Also, Korean dramas are really good at cramming a lot of plot into their episodes and making it feel like you’ve gotten your time’s worth, even as it set you up for the next episode. A lot of the typical elements click into place just within the first epi

Theme Tuesday - Ringo Lam - City on Fire (1987)

For February 2019, I will be exploring the works of Hong Kong action director and master Ringo Lam, who passed away last year. City on Fire is perhaps best known in the West for supposedly inspiring Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. On the surface, the resemblance is there. A police officer infiltrates a gang of thieves to foil their heist of a jewelry store. The heist goes terribly awry, and the gang members start suspecting each other. However, Reservoir Dogs is basically the last fifteen minutes of this movie stretched out to feature length. Tarantino’s movies are always about character first and most of the “action” happens before anyone pulls a gun on anyone. Ringo Lam is very much an

Uncaged - Raising Arizona (1987) & Moonstruck (1987)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me. Raising Arizona (1987) 1987 would be something of a banner year for Nic Cage. After showing promise as a leading man in roles in movies like Racing with the Moon and Birdy, he firmly established himself as a comic actor of considerable talent. The Coen Brothers always have such a specific, almost mannered tone in their dialogue and the way they shoot their movies that they have to cast actors who are sensitive to their sensibilities. Raising Arizona is basically a big ol’ Looney Tunes cartoon, and Nic Cage may be giving the biggest

 
 
 

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