Tagged: Review

Movie Night 2 | Mr. President Must Die!

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For the second edition of Movie Night the theme of American Presidents was chosen by a panel of independent judges (one of my friends).

In a concerted attempt to make Movie Night a more entertaining experience I organised it so that the best film would come first and the worst last. The reasoning was that as we got progressively more drunk the bad films would be more tolerable.

Things didn’t quite work to plan.

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Review | Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 23.42.42 Synopsis

Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

Review

Jack Ryan. The most hardy of movie properties. Despite multiple failed attempts to establish a Bond-like franchise for the Tom Clancy hero, Hollywood keeps returning over and over to try again. Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan marks the fourth incarnation of the character in five films over a 24 year period. Hardly consistent stuff. Now, with the Bond franchise at a peak in its popularity, and without the competition of the flagging Bourne franchise, it would seem that Jack Ryan has returned at the most opportune of times. Alas, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself in the crowded field that is the thriller genre. As such it seems highly unlikely that Shadow Recruit will be anything more than yet another stand-alone entry in the series.

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Review | Inside Llewyn Davis

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Synopsis

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

Review

There is a book on screenwriting out there called Save the Cat (Blake Snyder), the central premise being that in order to make your audience connect with your protagonist you must first show him “Saving the Cat” (hence the name) or helping a similarly helpless animal or person. Strangely enough, at no point in his book did Blake Snyder ever assert that you should have your protagonist leave the cat stranded on a highway, trapped in a car with a chronically ill man.

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KFR | The Yellow Sea 황해

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Synopsis

A cab driver in the Yanbian Province of China who is deep in gambling debt and whose wife has gone missing while working abroad gets offered a deal by a local gangster: his debts paid off and a chance to find his wife in exchange for murdering a man on South Korean soil.

Review

As The Yellow Sea starts it should be clear that this will not be a happy tale. Gu-nam’s (Ha Jung-woo) opening anecdote should be evidence enough of that. It is populated by a-moral characters who will stop at nothing in pursuit of their selfish desires. It is a cautionary tale on dangers of unchecked human ambition. Though this may hardly be new territory, The Yellow Sea packs enough thrills and intrigue to keep proceedings interesting. Continue reading

Review | Philomena

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Synopsis

A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

Review

The trailer for Philomena is rather misleading, on the face of it it would seem as if it would be easy to predict every beat of the story. From the start of Philomena’s search, to her finding her estranged son, it is a story not unfamiliar to us. However, as with real-life, things aren’t so simple. This turns out to be the films strongest asset. Philomena is filled with twists and turns that feel both natural and unique, an advantage clearly born out of this being a real-life story. The film attains a level of authenticity that is rarely seen in works of fiction, something that really makes it stand out from the crowd. Continue reading

KFR | Masquerade 광해: 왕이 된 남자

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Synopsis

Amid national chaos and fear for his life, tyrannical King Gwanghae orders his trusted councilor Heo Kyun to find a royal body double. He hires Ha-seon, a peasant mimic who bears a perfect resemblance to the King. When King Gwanghae collapses from a mysterious poison, Ha-seon reluctantly becomes a King. He must follow his conscience to save his country from collapse, avoid assassination, and pull off the biggest masquerade in history

Review

South-East Asian period dramas are generally a very solemn affairs. Often populated by stoic and unyielding characters, there is often very little room to glimpse the humanity that they hid behind the facade. From the off it would seem that Masquerade is yet another entry in the genre. Quite the contrary. Masquerade is in fact a film that looks at what lies behind the stoicism of the time. The fish out of water tale of a commoner in the royal court helps peel back the layers of pretence and probes the humanity behind it. Though it may be by the numbers, Masquerade is one of the most charming films in recent memory. Continue reading