Review: Made by one of Thailand’s horror powerhouses, Sophon Sakdaphisit, The Promise tells a fictional ghost story about the country’s famous Ghost Tower —an abandoned 47-floor skyscraper, a reminder to the country’s downfall during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Similarly to Sophon’s other films, The Promise builds the horror on dramatic foundation. Sophon has experimented on family tropes in Ladda Land and friendship tropes inThe Swimmer; in his latest work, he combines them both along with some urban legend and national history. Continue reading The Promise / เพื่อน..ที่ระลึก (2017) – Review
Review: The idea of reliving the same day in a loop a la Groundhog Day gets a South Korean treatment in Cho Sun-ho’s (writer of Killer Toon) directorial debut, A Day (a.k.a. Ha-roo). When I said ‘South Korean treatment’, it means that this film has some touch of melodrama and another shade of revenge thriller wrapped in a moving, time-loop story about life, death and grudge that glues them together.
In A Day, a glorified surgeon Jun-young (Kim Myung-min) keeps living the same day when he loses his daughter in a traffic accident. He’s en route to reconcile with the daughter when a taxi hit the poor girl and instantly killed her. Soon, as the doctor began to get engulfed by sense of helplessness and trauma, he found out that he’s not the only person to suffer the looping fate. Continue reading A Day (2017) – Review
Review: It’s difficult to grasp what Daniel Peddle’s Southern coming-of-age drama, Moss, tries to emanate. Shot in the midst of lush Pleasure Island, North Carolina with casts of local people (who mostly have no acting resume), this film remains quiet, restraint, compelling but unfocused in narrating a fateful day for the titular protagonist.
The story only revolves on a single day, which happens to be Moss’ (Mitchell Slaggert) 18th birthday. Moss’ mother died giving birth to him, triggering a rift between the young guy and his father (Billy Ray Suggs). Moss’ birthday only reminds his father to the grief he’s been denying all the time. Moss deals with the boy’s newly responsibility as a young adult to deliver meds to his grandmother; but, he’s drifted between the temptation of immaturity, the search for maternal figure and his responsibility. Continue reading Moss (2017) – BALINALE Review
Review: Jack Zagha Kababie’s Almacenados (a.k.a. Warehoused) houses an absurdly ridiculous two-man show about employment, specifically pre-retirement syndrome, in an empty warehouse, hence the title.
Set in a warehouse located in a Mexican suburb, the drama-comedy revolves on the last five working days of Mr. Lino (José Carlos Ruiz), an old, diligent employee, and first five days of Nin (Hose Meléndez). Each day represents a chapter in this smartly outlandish observational tale, which mostly comes in tranquility but always has the ability to trigger bittersweet laughs. Continue reading Almacenados (2015) – BALINALE Review
Review: Taiwanese documentary filmmaker, Mu-Ming Tsai (Hanzi, Design & Thinking, Maker), spawns his first feature film, Paradoxical—a romance drama which goes hand in hand with a modest time travel chronicle. The result is an essay of love & time presented in a low-key, dialogue-driven cinema.
The film chronicles the blossoming relationship between an aspiring terrarium artist, Shi Jing (Helena Hsu, credited as Nai Han Hsu), with a cute geek, You Kong (Kenny Yen), whose job is related to a new time-travel technology called Time-lag. You Kong gets involved in a secret mission using Time-lag with a prodigy, Yuan Hai (Yuchen Ho); while Shi Jing begins to experience existential crisis as an artist. As their relationship grows, a thread of unrelated incidents around their lives starts to unravel a complicated connection between their past and their future. Continue reading Paradoxical / 時光 (2017) – BALINALE Review
Review: South Korean female director, Lee Soo-youn (The Untitled) showcases her admiration to Alfred Hitchcock as she borrows the auteur’s cinematic style to present her later thriller, Bluebeard. It’s a story about a divorced colonoscopist who recently moved to neighborhood dubbed as ‘the mecca of serial killing’ only to find himself tangled in a new chain of serial killings.
Aside from the Hitchcockian aesthetic, there’s nothing apparently new to offer in this thriller. The story can be manipulative at some times as it relies heavily on its barely reliable narrator, dr. Seung-hoon (Jo Jin-woong), along with sudden blackouts, rough cuts, and repetitive dream sequences. Bluebeard’s visual can sometimes be deceitful, too, as it plays with perspective. However, tensions are pumped up effectively in the beginning and kept consistently jolting out as we are following the protagonist’s self-realization upon entering a dark web of murders. Jin-woong consistently presents us a convincing portrayal of an unreliable narrator until the consistency falters by the middle of the middle act. Continue reading Bluebeard (2017) – BALINALE Review