Showing posts from April, 2019

Burning 버닝

Lee Chang-dong successfully and faithfully translated Haruki Murakami’s beautiful, poetic prose to the screen. 

A slow-burn psychological thriller / character study that weaved an ambiguous narrative with haunting imageries. There are cats, jazz, running and even a sprinkle of magical realism, but all yet grounded in Lee’s reality of KPop, societal isolation, the desolation of youth and the dichotomy of classes. 

Three actors held “Burning” together, and although Steve Yeun and Jeon Jong-seo were great in their role, especially the latter who had a haunting yet magnetic presence, it really was Yoo Ah-in’s story that Lee was telling and Yoo was exceptional. He was emotive without being exaggerating, and sincere without being superficial. And through the film, we do end up caring about him and for him.

Burning was possibly one of the best Murakami’s adaptation and rewarding for both fans of Murakami and cinephiles.

Avengers: Endgame

One word: Epic. Two words: Fan Service. 

Nonetheless, kudos to the Russo brothers and Kevin Feige for crafting a fitting finale that never felt at all like it was 3-hours long. An unabashed fan service final film that daftly balanced character work, action/CGI extravaganza, emotional drama and physical comedy. However, as epic as Endgame was, it was surprisingly a tighter ensemble drama than Infinity War. There were emotional payoffs that felt earned, although ultimately the story - and the storytellers - lacked the bravery to have more consequential narrative beats.

The film was neatly divided into three acts and each act could easily have been a movie unto itself. This was good in terms of structure and storytelling. It was clear, objective and succinct, but then it also resulted in briefer and narrower character arcs that did not allow non-major characters to be anything more than narrative devices or plot contrivances. And it was this that made the film felt fan service-y. But, this…

A Private War

This was the film and character that Rosamund Pike deserved to get nominated for an Oscar for. She should have been there along side Olivia Colman, Yerlitza Arpacio and Glenn Close (the other two - not naming names - not so much).  A strong, ferocious portrayal of the equally strong and courageous Marie Colvin, Pike was magnetic. It was a vanity-free performance that was layered and nuanced and convincing.  The biggest drawback however, was that director Matthew Heineman and writer Arash Amel chose to focus primarily on Colvin’s career and less on who she was and why she was how she was. Luckily, Pike managed to elucidate some of that of mystery through her interpretation and her performance, and we do get some sort of idea of the kind of person Colvin might have been in private.  Jamie Dornan, Tom Hollander and Stanley Tucci rounded out the main men supporting Pike, and they all sparred with Pike to give her the moments to shine.  Heineman’s film was tight, brisk and taut and Colvin…

Vox Lux

An uneven film that was unsure of its purpose, does it want to be a satire about pop and celebrity culture or a family drama of two sisters or a social commentary about America and/or modern society? 

Director and co-writer Brady Corbet seemed to want to be experimental but the final product just ended up being unfocused. And was the Wilem Dafoe narration really necessary? Show, not tell...

However, Natalie Portman was magnificent! This was her film. 

Portman appeared in like a tornado in the second half and absolutely Black Swan-ed her way from start to end. With her, the film finally gained some momentum and even Corbet’s unnecessary and indulgent long takes were improved by having Portman owning the screen. 

Raffey Cassidy - as the young Portman and then her daughter - held her own in the first half, but she lacked the screen charisma of Portman. 

Jennifer Ehle, Jude Law and Stacey Martin rounded out the main cast. They supported Cassidy and the film in the beginning but were there real…