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Features Live Action Movies

Mad World (Yat Nim Mou Ming, 一念无名)

Director – Wong Chun – 2016 Hong Kong – 101m

*****

Mental health is no child’s play: all the odds seem to be stacked against a father’s struggles to care for his bipolar adult son, in a film that’s a sharp comment on Hong Kong’s failure to care for the most vulnerable – played in Creative Visions: Hong Kong Cinema 1997 – 2017, which took place in London between November 17th and 19th 2017

Lorry driver Wong (Eric Tsang) lives in a cramped apartment block in Hong Kong. He collects his estranged adult son Tung (Shawn Yue) from the hospital. Tung is bipolar and the doctors say there is nothing more they can do in order to help him. He must return home.

But “home” is less simple than it sounds. His mum (Elaine Jin) was bipolar, too. Dad walked out on the family years earlier. Tung resents him for it just as he resents his brother, his mother’s favorite, who impressed her by doing well in school and getting himself a lucrative job in the US where he now lives.

As he pointed out to his mother while she was still alive, it was Tung – and not his idolised brother – who stayed behind to look after her.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies Music

Bill Frisell: A Portrait

Director – Emma Franz – 2017 – US – 118m

*****

Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell is a unique talent, a shy man and an extraordinary individual about whom fellow musician turned director Franz has made a remarkable film – now on DVD, BD and VoD

This extraordinary character study of one of the most significant jazz guitarists of modern times is remarkable not only for the portrait it paints of Frisell himself but also for the noteworthy list of names it interviews in passing. The newcomer with little knowledge of who’s who in jazz could take a notebook and and acquaint themselves with a remarkable number of incredible musicians of one sort or another, from the late drummer Paul Motian through more familiar, popular stars like singer Paul Simon and guitarist Bonnie Raitt to big band orchestra leader and composer Michael Gibbs. Indeed, the latter’s 2009 concert at London’s Barbican Centre featuring Frisell bookends the film allowing Franz to close on ‘Throughout’, the first of Frisell’s self-composed tunes the guitarist ever recorded. And that’s just one reason why you should watch Bill Frisell: A Portrait.

Australian independent director Franz worked for a while as a musician herself, which means that her director’s eyes and ears are attuned to what musicians do in composition and performance as well as how their minds work.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Dirty Carnival (Biyeolhan Geori, 비열한 거리)

Director – Yoo Ha – 2006 – South Korea – 140m

*****

As GoodFellas as it gets! Yoo Ha’s gangster film compares favourably to Scorsese’s classic on many levels, an underrated dirty gem of Korean noir – from the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) 2017

Byung-doo, 29, (Jo In-sung) is a smart, lean and hungry gangster on the mean streets of Seoul, in A Dirty Carnival. As a debt collector he successfully collects payments from difficult customers. Yet his immediate boss Sang-chul (Yun Je-mun) pays him so little that Byung-doo must constantly beg him for the money to pay his mother’s apartment rent. Looking out for those beneath him and determined to better himself in the wider organisation, Byung-doo realises that its overall boss Hwang (Chun Ho-jin) would like nothing more than to get the sycophantic Prosecutor Park (Kwon Tae-won) off his back. Sang-chul clearly isn’t going to do anything about it so Byung-doo takes the task upon himself. He and one of his men drive into the back of Park’s car in a secluded spot and he kills the prosecutor when they get out of their cars to exchange details.

Byung-doo’s best mate Min-ho (Min Nam-koong) is an aspiring film director who can’t sell the script for the gangster film on which he’s working because the studio producer he approaches doesn’t think it’s realistic enough.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Remnants (Gong-Dong-Jeong-Beom)

Director – Kim Il-rhan, Lee Hyuk-sang – 2016 – South Korea – 116m

****

Revisiting the Korean towering inferno: follow-up doc to Two Doors, has survivors of the Yongsan tragedy released from prison to tell their side of the story and grapple with the resulting emotional and psychological problems – from the London Korean Film Festival 2017

Set to open in Korea in 2018, this is the follow-up documentary to Two Doors (Kim il-rhan/ Hong Ji-you, 2012) about the Yongsan tragedy in which a policeman and five protesters were killed in a fire atop a housing block during a protest. One of the limitations imposed on that film was the incarceration of those protesters that escaped the burning rooftop lookout atop the Yongsan building. Viewers of the first film kept asking what had happened to these people.

The short answer is: four years after originally being sentenced, they were pardoned and released. This meant that they were now available to tell their own stories, so Kim and Lee from the Pinks film making collective and their crew started talking to them on camera. Slowly, a second film started to emerge. It’s not exactly a sequel, more a follow up.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Two Doors (Du Gae-Ui Mun)

Director – Kim Il-rhan, Hong Ji-you – 2011 – South Korea – 101m

*****

Is this the Korean Grenfell Tower? Threatened eviction, SWAT, lethal building fire: compelling documentary about the Yongsan tragedy in which a police raid on a group of housing protesters went horribly wrong – from the London Korean Film Festival 2017

The story of the Yongsan tragedy. Yongsan is an area of Central Seoul which had been the site of a US military base and the infrastructure such as bars and prostitution which had grown up around it. Once the US military decamped to another area, the developers hoped to move in and regenerate the area. For ‘regenerate’ read ‘gentrify’, a situation not entirely unfamiliar in parts of the UK at present. In Yongsan, when some tenants in one particular housing block refused to move out, activists seized on this and helped stage a protest.

Instead of listening to their grievances as the protesters would have hoped, the authorities surrounded the block with police whose presence only served to aggravate the protesters into throwing firebombs. The police subsequently stormed the building with intent to remove the protesters who barricaded themselves inside and whose last stand would take place in a lookout structure on the roof of the building.… Read the rest