Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Monster with a Thousand Heads (2016) Mexico

A bold attempt to fight the flawed system.






Original title:
Un Monstruo de mil Cabezas (Spanish)


Genre:
Drama, Thriller.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     A Mexican thriller-drama based on the novel of the same name. A theme about fighting a defect in the health insurance policy by an ordinary middle-class family. I had no idea of what this film is about, in the last minute I decided to watch, not even knowing about the storyline or its genre. But intrigued by its honest narration. The depiction in the film might not how in the real world happen, yet it uncovers what the desperate people can able to do if they were not treated fairly. You should not judge it by its cover, I mean its low rating and bad reviews. It is a much better film with a message.

     The film ran nearly 75 minutes, which is shorter than an average film length, but it revealed everything it wanted to tell the viewers in a bold attempt. One of the realistic films I have ever seen that dealt with the real world issue in an unconventional way. The story of a middle aged wife Sonia, whose husband is very ill and completely depending on the insurance to cover the bills, but the company refuses to pay. So her quest commence to convince them and when she realises it is complicated, in the desperation she takes an alternate route to handle the situation. The following events are unexpected, powerful, before emotionally concluding.

 Next time, we'll rob a bank, okay? 

     It is not about the corruption, but still fits in that category. In the end how you take it all matters. It started off like a slow drama, the developments were failed to impress me until the first 20 minutes. Surprised by the series of events came after that. The mother and son fighting the system their way when there was no option left, or maybe going through the legal proceeding might cost the time and life of the patient. They knew their position, and they did what have to be done at that point without thinking the consequence.

     It is definitely an interesting take, the writer might have inspired by the real poor people's struggle to access the health insurance benefits, especially in the developing countries. So she added some extra contents to the screenplay (book) where the characters in the story can fight the bureaucracy and to make the story appeal its audience. The film was awesomely made, though there was no money making agenda behind it. The actors, particularly the one as Sonia was amazing, she could convince the viewers the character she played or the story are not fake. And then often, the gunfire sounds suddenly changes the environment in the film to pick up the pace like we do hit the refresh in our computer.

     That one night event where most of the story takes place was looked some kind of undercover operation by the media. But the camera angles to cover the other side of some of the scenes were smart enough to pour in more interesting stuffs to us to stick with it. This film can't be watched for entertainment or to gain inspiration from unlawful act that shown in it, but it's set to deliver its own message. I don't think anybody would regret watching it, because it is short and sweet and the topic of the film is alone worth a watch. There are some full male nude scenes, but they were unintentional. Other than that it is a good film for everybody, especially for the grown ups I suggest.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Assault on Wall Street, Puncture, Leviathan, The Fool, Erin Brockovich, And Justice For All.


External link(s):
      


WCA geolocation:
Right now we're in

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Second Chance (2015) Denmark

When the GOOD is as bad as the BAD it become.






Original title:
En Chance Til (Danish)


Genre:
Drama, Thriller.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     I was not sure about watching this film, but like usual ignoring the critics made me realise how much it was underrated. From the director of the Oscar winning film 'In a Better World'. After that great feat which ignited her international career, quite did not go well accordingly, including one project in the Hollywood. So she went back and made this Danish thriller-drama. Very strongly written screenplay, but feels it has flaws and then on its progress, they had all patched so brilliantly to make you think yourself you had got so wrong. It was not based on any book, but looks it could make one fine.

     This is a story of 'the good' and 'the bad', and when 'the good' turns very bad, what would 'the bad' decide to do. A decent middle class couple who can do anything for their newborn child and another couple who are drug addicts whose newborn was completely neglected. When the tragedy strike in one of these families, the nightmare begins for another. A series of events follows where they all go for an extra mile to get a second chance. So see it to believe what people are capable when they are in the desperate situation.

     Like the title and its tagline indicating, the narration carefully and intensely built the plot in the first act. That is the part you have to be watchful to learn the characters which is obviously a bit slower than the rest of the film. In the second half where it all turns to one direction to move on with a couple of quick twists. Totally unpredictable stuffs, because they were silly or maybe kind of familiar and you won't expect that to happen, but it does. I think that was the very clever, beside the powerful performance had brought a good balance between the pace and the contents of the film.

 People look different when they are dead. That's just how it is. 

     It did not win any big awards internationally or contended for the Oscars, but still the film is worth a watch. No matter what the critics say, this is one of the best films of the year. Like I said the story might look stupid in the paper, but the filmmakers stunning presented it on the screen. I won't be surprised if an improvised versions were made in other languages including Hollywood. After those fine progress it made in the middle part, the conclusion was somewhat ordinary. It suddenly skips a couple of years forward with one final short scene before the credits roll up which will make us feel good. That was a nice way to end after the shock the narration had given to us.

     From the actors, Nikolaj Coster-Wakdau was the screenpace ruler and did not fail to deliver. If this film is winning an award means he should be on the top of the list from the film followed by the direction and screenplay. In one of the film posters he just looks alike the current James Bond, the film was a lot better than the impression the posters give. His co-stars were not bad either.

     There is sentiment in it, but not that effective, so the lack of melodrama is the big drawback. A theme like this should have bettered that part in order to make the overall film even better. Because the characters do not count when the subject it dealing with was has much higher priority. So the viewers always would be busy looking for what might happen to the story rather thinking its characters all the time. And that is because of the neutrality. Like I said before when 'the good' is as bad as 'the bad' it become, then everything end in an equal position and you might stop backing anyone particularly. There are many films like this, but this is kind of refreshing and very realistic. Definitely, I must end my review recommending it. So I hope you all enjoy it as I did.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Changeling, Blood and Ties, Gone Baby Gone, The Tiffany Rubin Story, The Carlina White Story.


External link(s):
      


WCA geolocation:
Right now we're in

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale (2015) South Korea

The final standoff between the man and the beast.






Original title:
Daeho (Korean)


Genre:
Adventure, Drama, Thriller.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     After the stunning performance in the 'The Admiral: Roaring Currents', the Korean superstar Choi Min-Sik is back for another unique film. This time he donned in a hunter's avatar and his role was pretty inspiring. From the director of 'New World' and second time working with the same actor. Reading this kind of story might work well because of we individually visualise them as what we want. But turning them into a film is a tough task because they're one man's vision and not everybody share the same perspective, hence the disagreement surface. So I think the director did his best with the kind of screenplay he had, I would say the whole team effort was good.

     During the Japanese rule of Korea in the 1925, a fine hunter who lives with his son in the forest near a village has given up hunting since his wife's death. But when the Japanese army chief obsessed with one particular magnificent tiger that lives in the mountains of Jirisan, summons all the hunters to get it. All the attempts go in vain, until the Japanese soldiers and Korean hunters team up and go after that last living tiger. The battle between the man and the beast only brings the bloody war that's going to change forever whoever involved in it.

     I was excited to watch it after learning about the plot, because the Korean experimental films are quite fascinating as they are made in the most realistic way. Take an example of 'Mr. Go', the same visual effects team behind this film as well. They did pretty awesomely, but it was a much harder job than the big ape they had created earlier. Though, in a few shots it was below par, at a time very much comparable quality to the recent CGI tigers such as Richard Parker and Shere Khan from 'Life of Pi' and 'The Jungle Book' respectively.

 Respect the mountain and take what it gives you. 

     The film was kind of mix of reality and fiction. From the human perspective, all the narration was quite rational and historically matches. Like humans hunt animals for pleasure and its skin, teeth, nails et cetera. As from the tiger's perspective, it turned out to be a little fiction, because of the animal showing same or equal emotions as the humans. Animals do show emotions, but not in the human way as it was shown in the film. That makes it a bit unrealistic and out of proportion. That would work in a pure fantasy film where this one comes under thriller that was targeted for adults with strong blood and gore. Otherwise, it would have made a great anime.

     Apart from those disappointments, I find the film was much better if not as what I anticipated. The actors did their part so well and so the crew members behind the camera. The cinematography was good, captured some beautiful landscapes, but I don't know some of those shots might be digital creation. The length a bit long, due to engaging screenplay you won't feel you're forced to sit for that long.

     For the action sequence fans, this film offers a good entertainment, but depends who you're cheering for. As for the conclusion, I did not get it properly, because it was an understanding term rather giving a full explanation. So viewers can have a different opinion and everything might make sense. (Be careful, this following line might contain spoilers.) For my understanding the tiger and the hunter decide what they should have done years ago should be done now.

     I might have mentioned it somewhere the film is suitable for grown ups. Even for an adult like me, knowing it just a fake and graphics felt a bit too much brutality. There is a scene where a boy was eaten alive by a pack wolves. I don't know what the filmmakers were thinking, what kind of audience they're targeting. The overall writing should have been improved, making more realistic way like how the natural world animals behave. It might work for some people with a minimum guaranteed entertainment, but little children should stay away from it. From my side, I go for 50-50, neither I suggest it nor encourage to skip it.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea, Jaws, Mighty Joe Young, White Lion, Wolf Totem.


External link(s):
    


WCA geolocation:
Right now we're in

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Land of Mine (2015) Denmark, Germany

Teen POWs in the post WWII.






Original title:
Under Sandet (Danish)


Genre:
Drama, History, War.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     A Danish war-drama that was inspired by the historical account, but all the characters were fictional. Remember this title for another six month, because I am confident this film will make a journey to the west coast of the USA to compete at the 89th Academy Awards in the coming February. I have seen many foreign films, but I'm not this much positive for any others. If this film fails to make, then that would be a great disappointment despite having no idea of what are the other four films. So this is just for now, my stance may change later.

     Anyway, the film was heartbreakingly amazing. The WWII stories I had seen those told from the perspectives of the Australian, Japanese, Korean, Russian to African and European to the American western sea, Hawaii. And this is a Danish story, sets in just after the end of the war where prisoners of the war were used to clean up the mess. In the opening the teen German POWs were trained to defuse the land mine explosives and then later the unit was handed over to the Danish sergeant Carl Rasmussen where they are all going to work in one of the west coast landmines that was used to defend the Scandinavia by the Nazi. That is the story told how it all ends in the remaining parts.

     This was like another 'Kajaki', but not actually a war film. Using of the prisoners as the labourers is a violation, according to the Geneva rule. That's the point of the film, focused to reveal the inhume act. But it was not anything like 'The Railway Man' 'Unbroken' or the 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'. Watching a film about the brave soldiers inspires us and bring patriotism, but in this those teen kid screaming whenever something goes wrong really brings heartache. So not everybody feels comfortable with it, especially the family audience. But there were lots of edgy moments and you would never know what events follows.

 If they are old enough to go to war, they are old enough to clean up. 

     It was shot is the real location, and I think that part contributed to depicting the actual atmosphere where most of the POWs lost their arms and legs and some exploded into many pieces in the air. It was a simple narration, but the visuals talked itself more than anything else. All the actors were outstanding, especially those 4-5 German teens and of course the Danish sergeant Carl. I think the Carl's influence had more impact, after seeing the opening scene where he went outrage and beat up those German soldiers returning home.

     There are a couple of small twists, but there are some scenes which are not easy to get over. Even though we know those were just fake, but that does not work once you totally into the story deeply. This is a different kind of emotional film, something you rarely experience. The director who is also the writer must be appreciated for handling it perfectly. Especially keeping the screenplay uncomplicated and between the two nations, where in the real event involves the British officials. I have never seen his other films, but this one will define him forth and the people are going to recognise him. So I hope he'll keep up doing such level films in the future.

     I have never seen such film, I mean seen some where the kids were tortured, but this was very unique and totally a different perspective for that takes place in the backdrop of the WWII. Especially the Germans perspective is the very rare kind. So I'm kind of thinking if Germany picks 'Look Who's Back' for the Oscars, the contest between these two would bring two different moods. At this point I don't remember any Danish film I have seen so far in my life other than this one which I feel is the best Danish film ever. I mean, come on, who would do such film where your own nation, if not the whole nation, the one who represent was shown in the negative shade over the Nazi Germans. This is definitely one of the best films of the year. Highly recommended.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Kajaki, 1944, Colette, Son of Saul, The Railway Man, Unbroken, A War, Zayton,


External link(s):
      


WCA geolocation:
Right now we're in

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wetlands (2011) Canada

Life as a farmer in the global warming era.






Original title:
Marécages (French)


Genre:
Drama.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     This is a Canadian French language film written and directed by a newcomer. I have seen lots of films about the farmers and it is not just one of them to get over with after a watch. It was thoroughly analysed and presented to us. I mean the urban people, we cause all kinds of pollutions and it is affecting the natural world thousands of miles away. I know industries are the main source of the pollutions, but they're operating because of our demand. The film was about a family, but the storyline had a slight influence on these topics.

     The film sets in somewhere in the remote place of the Quebec province. Centres on a dairy farm couple and their teen son during one summer season. It was not like the previous year, severe drought already claimed one of the members of a family in the village and now this little family is about to go bankrupt. With the troubles ahead, how they're going to manage, especially after an unexpected accident that shattered their peaceful life.

     The main focus was on the mother and her son. Those two actors played their characters wonderfully. But I thought they were real farmers, because there is a scene involving a cow giving birth to a calf and I was totally stunned for it. That looked so real to me, but there might be some tricks like CGI. Considering it a low cost film, that idea can be ruled out. Anyway, it was not all about the farm, most of the film was about their personal life. As a family working together to keep the dairy farm get going and individually theirs different interests.

 Farming wasn't the life I wanted. 

     This is widely unnoticed great drama and the reason is it is a small budget film, involving not so famous actors, the theme and of course the unknown director. But it has everything and even more than that, what a rural based subject should focus. Especially in the current world status as the global warming is a big concern, it committed to reveals why the agriculture is shrinking, and how those who are depending on them are directly affected was boldly told.

     You know, like the title says, how precious the wetlands are for the dairy farm animals. It was not intended as a message film, but quite understandable if we use our common sense. Those people work hard, but sometimes theirs hard effort goes unpaid. Besides struggling to make a living, they too have a life and desires to fulfill.

     Regarding the narration, the introduction was very casual and had no end twist. But simply displayed the film characters as what the real rural people do when they're in such situation. Especially those mourning parts were well detailed, and as there's no other way, they fight to recover from the tragedy. Besides, a few other stuffs like finding sexuality, affair, drinking, smoking are all covered in it.

     The film had almost the two hour run, but well developed and filled with quite unpredictable scenes. Film length is always a concern when it is a pure drama, because drama elements won't bring excitements, so one must have patience to watch them. But for this, I think everything worked out so well. I didn't find any boring parts, there's always something developed in the gaps to keep the viewers alive. The screenwriter must me praised for that. This film is worth a watch, but that does not mean a must see. Whatever, surely it needs the audience to spread the words around, how good it is.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
The Auction, Sunset Song, Rams, An Unfinished Life, Love Comes Softly, That Evening Sun.


External link(s):
    


WCA geolocation:
Right now we're in