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Gorgeous and Tragic
Put Korean skills together with gorgeous costumes, settings, and actors--then add a great director and three skillful actors in the leads--especially the talent of Jo In-Sung who can say more with his eyes and the gentle play of emotion across his face than most actors ever approach, and you have a great movie. It is sexy, thrilling, part love story part sword and martial arts and all intrigue. I disagree that the film is homophobic: the king's mistake plays out clearly. The theme is more about obsession on the king's part and resultant outcomes of jealousy, rage, and revenge. There is no question he is at fault: not for 'turning' the chief gay--but for setting up the entire tragedy himself and misunderstanding the power of love. If you want to keep your lover, find someone else to 'do the deed.'
Kill It (2019)
When KDrama is great, it's the best there is. This one misses the mark. The actors are very good, but the plot is messy and tediously slow. The production had a great love story they should have explored more, but they left it hanging in the air and did not develop it--though her grief is heartbreaking, and she's very believable. They spent too long repeating the same plot line about the bad guy, who got away far too many times and deserved to be kicked and beaten slowly to death by our guy. Speaking of our hero, I realize he is suffering from PTSD and probably a lot more, but the actor really didn't have enough to say, and the staring became tedious. And there really was not enough about the kids themselves, nor the whole important trafficking theme. Missed opportunities throughout: they could have had a great series in better hands. I really do love both leads.
The Great Battle (2018)
Fine Korean Film
Koreans simply have the long, complex history, the directors, writers, production, and actors (Jo In-Sung is always completely into his character and wonderful to watch) to make some of the best movies in the world. This one has a few plot holes and historical stretches, but is great movie making as the Commander uses heart, experience, and ingenious strategies in the 7th century (we just think we're smart) to save the fortress from a seemingly over-powering invader. It's rousing and enjoyable film making again from Korea.
A slow, languorous study in the original language with sub-titles of the unfortunate fall of a prideful man who uses others, esp women-who are all far more noble than he is. It is beautifully filmed, directed, and acted with a lovely and appropriate ending.
Beautiful K-Drama Love Story
I have watched the opening 6 episodes several times because the story of these two characters falling in love is so warm and sweet, and I was deeply fortunate to have a precious soul mate in my own life, so I often have tears watching them. The chemistry between the actors is palpable: they are charming together and completely believable. The uses of elevators, rain, and umbrellas are nice touches that contribute figuratively to their evolving story and again at the end-with the addition of the all-important necklace. The rest of the series explores the judgmental intrusiveness of family members, with a mother figure so over the top she is an abusive, hateful cartoon figure that borders on psychopathy. Also very important is the study of workplace sexual harassment, which this series explores successfully along with the female lead's maturing as she grows into the person she wants to be. But both themes take their tolls on the love story. I do think the series finds a positive resolution that satisfies the love story; it is rushed, but it is there in the symbols as well as their joy.
Liu lang di qiu (2019)
China's Mixed Sci-Fi Bag
China's first Sci-Fi effort is a mix. It has some pretty good sets, and graphics that look a lot like 2001 with some Hal tossed in. It has good looking international actors earnestly doing their best with a bad script and an unintelligible plot. In this plot there is something about the dying sun, and propelling earth out of orbit to try something about Jupiter. But 2500 years is in there somewhere. No idea. There is also a rescue unit that seems needing rescue itself. We're all gonna die, but wait, some hydrogen stuff and plasma beam stuff; let's try to blow up backward from Jupiter which we'll have to ignite, and there's zero chance of success, but good luck, and hands up everybody who volunteers. There is also a daddy and a tent and his kid who grows up to be a genius who can't drive, but daddy is back to help after 17 years on the space station just in the nick of time. No tent though. And Error 425 seems ominous. And, it is the first day of the Chinese New Year which daddy is emotional about, so the the United Earth Govt guy speaks to him with a soothing French voice, but he's still on his own. But it's cool because there is alcohol which always works. There are heroics, self-sacrifice, and scenes of compassion along with frustration. Never fear: I didn't give the plot away because there isn't a clear one, but also there is an ending that kind of works. In fact ppl slamming the film maybe didn't watch it...to the end...which is not the end. So I've seen worse, and nothing would surprise me about the Chinese, who produce good movies and drama series. They will pull off a great Sci-Fi movie after they figure out what story they really want to tell.
The film turns on metaphor and ambiguity, and though longer than it needed to be is a fine accomplishment in direction, writing, and acting of the three leads. Of course Stephen Yeun is wonderful in a finely intricate performance, but so is Korea's brilliant Yoo Ah-In who carries the film. This is a work that leaves questions wrapped within enigmas: is the cat alive or dead in the box, or both, or imagined; or is the whole thing a novel unfolding from the mysteries of the world. Or is it a murder mystery resolved and then also burned, the metaphor becoming the answer to the mystery. Nothing about this film is easy, but it invites a lot of thoughtful attention, and everything seems possible. Including the cat.
An insult to Bundy's victims
Though well done in acting and production values, that is not enough if the purpose and focus are unclear. The man was a manipulative, depraved psychopath who destroyed at least 36 lives, and little of what he did to them is truly revealed in this film. To develop only the charming pretty boy with a thin recounting of his crimes rather than the soulless monster was an insult to his victims.
Beautifully filmed but frustrating story
I thought the actors and production team did a great job, but the story itself drove me nuts. The man basically
abandoned his family: no letters, no money, no return. So the rest to me is manipulative.
Black Earth Rising (2018)
Michaela is captivating.
Though the plot is a bit muddled here and there, the series is also beautifully acted with the brilliant Michaela Coen mesmerizing. But all are good in this heartbreaking and riveting story.
Mature Genre-Mixed Series that Pulls No Punches
One of the best casts and one of the most charming couples in one of the darkest series ever made. If that's off-putting, don't watch it, but if not, you will find it a mature and great series that pulls no punches regarding the power of evil, but also the stronger power of righteousness--and love. This is a rough, gritty crime series-even shocking-but it is also a tender, loving story about two warm, strong, good people trying to make things right for others who include characters viewers will also love. The writing, direction, and acting from a brilliant cast are superb. Strongly recommended.
Exquisite and painful
Any time Yoo Ah-In is in the film or series, he will reward viewers with his talent, and he always seems to be maturing as an artist. This film is one of SK's finest and one of the actor's best performances. It is also based on a true story that is painful to watch unfold as it does in "The Throne", perhaps too slowly, yet the closure is also beautiful.
The Silence (2019)
Weak and predictable.
Actors do their best, but bad writing, dumb character behavior, and flat ending sink this. And any time the producers kill off a mom, her baby, and a beloved dog in the early scenes, which you saw coming, you know you're being jerked around. Ugh. I fast-forwarded through the rest and missed nothing.
Salinjaui gieokbeob (2017)
Another excellent South Korean film
The lead is one of SK's finest actors, and the actor who plays the younger villain is also extraordinarily talented. The stalking and fight scenes are well executed and become vicious as they would between two serial killers. Writing, direction, and acting are all excellent, though there are definitely some plot holes, especially about the "daughter", and a rather strange open-ended bit at the end. Still, this is a fine movie: SK simply knows how to make them.
Ga-lyeo-jin si-gan (2016)
A fine Korean time-slip
The Koreans do wonderful work in romance, fantasy, and time slip, and this film also combines the Korean sensitivity with portraying children and young people. Even so, the film has twists that move it beyond sci-fi and more into explorations of time, love, devotion, sacrifice, and more. Also, the writing, direction, and actors are all excellent, and I was swept in from the beginning by the relationships between the kids, and then the two leads' sensitive portrayals of their characters in a difficult transition within the story. My only reservation is the ending seemed rushed, which can be an issue in some Korean films and dramas, but it does work...just a bit flat IMO. Still, I do strongly recommend this little jewel.
Durante la tormenta (2018)
Time slip murder mystery
Strong female lead, gorgeous male in love with her, time slip, murder mystery, detective story...what's not to like. Well written, acted, and directed. Ending is a bit rushed, but it works: I just wanted more there. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Many International Films are challenging the American market and often surpassing. Highly recommended along with other films from around the world, and in the original languages for the actors' voices.
Underground Rendezvous (2007)
Swing and a miss
The rare miss in South Korean cinema. It's well meaning enough, and the characters are likable, but the plot is full of holes and just plain nonsense. Shame, because it could have been a good story if the writers had explored options more seriously.
Delightful romantic comedy with an action spin
Terrific cast, direction, and writing with wonderful plot flips, themes, and perfect timing. Leokki manages to be funny, sweet, and warmly charming in one delightful film. Strongly recommended.
Tu hijo (2018)
Like father, like son.
Interminably slow and tedious with an ending that is no surprise at all considering the multiple truths about character that evolve.
You Changed My Life (2009)
Badly written, badly acted, repetitive, predictable fluff.
Most of the people criticizing this film do not understand that it is about a woman's rape by her own father (and the mother knows) since she was a child, her efforts to suppress the memories, then a rape again by the dead cop whose murder is under investigation. The death of her husband killed in action (hence the wedding ring lost during the rape) is the split from the only man who loved her, and the little girl she takes care of is of course her own self she mothers. The dead cop is her justified homicide with the knife her brother-in-law gave her for protection. The complaints about the disjointed plot construction miss the fact it is mostly perfect because the past and both shock and trauma caused by men that women should be able to trust are in memory shards until the trigger pulls everything together. It is not a brilliant film (the side plots fail), but it is definitely effective....as any victim of violence, especially rape, knows too well.
Alfre couldn't save it.
Don't know why such a talented actress I adore chose such a poorly written, predictable, boring script.
Does not wear well.
Watching this again after many years, and I'm impressed by how progressive the production tries to be for 1956, that Hudson is better than Dean, and except for his last scene, James Dean was an over-rated actor. Gasp. But I think the long adulation of him is because he had some bad boy charisma and died very young (through his own carelessness, sadly). Anyway, to me it's an overlong middling epic, with great final minutes.
The Graduate (1967)
I still enjoy The Graduate after all these years: many funny scenes, others poignant, and Bancroft so stunning. (A pity she died of cancer at only 73.) I don't think it will remain a classic, though, as cultural and generational changes continue. What seemed joyous to me at the end so many decades ago seemed thin today, a bit clueless, and almost sad.
A Gift from Spielberg
Is "Close Encounters" bloated in some parts of the middle: yes. Does it drag a bit in others: yes. Is it beautiful, sweet, and hopeful: achingly so. The last 20 minutes remain magical decades later, and I suspect they always will charm us and generations to come. Thank you, Stephen Spielberg.