Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Deer King (Shika no Ou: Yuna to Yakusoku no Tabi, 鹿の王 ユナと約束の旅)

Directors – Masashi Ando, Masayuki Miyaji – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 113m

**

The conquerors of a foreign land succumb to a mysterious plague there – out in cinemas on Wednesday, July 27th

This starts off with clearly epic intentions by throwing line after line of convoluted plot at the viewer in rapid fire, confusing intertitles. The kingdom of Aqifa was once ravaged by the Empire of Zol until the Black Wolf Fever prevented Zol from entering Fire Horse Territory. Today, the Black Wolf Fever is believed a thing of the past. Okay, got that? If not, you’ll be in trouble because the narrative is all about Zolians, Aquafaese and wolves and while the images are often ravishingly beautiful to look at, visually arresting eye candy in background or character design is never enough of itself to propel the story forward.

It continues piling on plot information like this for about half an hour. To make matters worse, an insistent cod-Gaelic score is overlaid over the images much of the time, and it seems composed to draw attention to itself rather than advance the story in any way.

Aquafaese toil in a salt mine (someone happens to mention some time afterwards that the mineral being mined is salt, otherwise you wouldn’t know) under sadistic guards while in the depths wolves attack and infest the slave workers whose skin comes out in purple blotches before they die.… Read the rest

Categories
Live Action Movies Shorts

Ladies Of The Forest (San-na-mul Cheo-nyeo, 산나물처녀)

Director – Kim Cho-hee – 2016 – South Korea – 29m

*****

A woman descends from the heavens in search of a mate, but lands in a forest where the pickings are slim – part of a strand of films celebrating actress Youn Yuh-jung at LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 4th to Friday, November 19th

The source of this plot is a folk tale known as The Fairy And The Woodcutter or The Heavenly Maiden And The Woodcutter. There seem to be a number of variants of the story – a good, much longer summation can be found here – but, broadly speaking, it concerns a woodcutter so poor that no woman will marry him. He lives alone with his mother. One day, he hides a deer from a hunter and in return, the deer offers to grant him a wish. He wishes to be married. The deer tells him of a pool to which beautiful maidens descend from the heavens to bathe. If he steals the clothes of one, she’ll be unable to return and he’ll be able to make her his wife. He must not, however, return her clothes until she has birthed three children, otherwise she will use her clothes to fly back to the heavens.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Memoir Of A Murderer (Salinjaui Gieokbeob, 살인자의 기억법)

Director – Won Shin-yeon – 2017 – South Korea – 118m

***

A K-thriller with a memorable premise: serial killer with Alzheimer’s suspects man dating his daughter is also a mass murderer – at the London Film Festival 2017 and London Korean Film Festival 2018

At the start of Memoir Of A Murderer, Kim Byung-su (Sul Kyoung-gu) walks dazedly out of a dark tunnel into a white, wintry landscape. Like so much in this convoluted South Korean thriller, that might be highly significant or symbolic, a metaphor, a journey, a state of mind. Or it might not. It’s undeniably a visually striking and arresting starting point. In the manner of frame stories or flashbacks in so many films, we return to this sequence towards the end. But it’s not clear at the start that this is a flashback, and it’s no clearer at the end when this scene recurs.

That’s indicative of some of the games screenwriter Hwang Jo-yoon (co-screenwriter of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, 2003) and director Won Shin-yun want to play with their audience. They’re plugging into a long cinematic tradition of films dealing with impossible memory and that peculiar subset thereof most notably represented by Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) in which a main character suffers from amnesia or memory loss.… Read the rest