2010 Minneapolis/St. Paul Asian Film Festival Reviews

posted by The Joe

For times and more info, check HERE.

Brand New Life, **

Merely a week after I saw this movie, I could barely remember any of it. I don’t think there’s anything bad here, per se – the ‘kids in an orphanage’ story is rather natural and overdrama-free – but neither does anything really stands out. It’s all just kind of ‘blah.’

City of Life & Death, ***1/2

Beautiful black-and-white work about the Rape of Nanking from director Chuan Lu. What starts as a standard war film with pretty familiar beats slowly transforms into an almost transcendent experience in the final stretch.

Crazy Racer, ***

A disgraced cyclist-turned-deliveryman starts on a path for revenge and things get very strange very quickly. The increasingly dark and bizarre plot paces itself like a breeze, and while sort of a variation of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, I can’t help but be a bit awed at how it eventually finds the line of utter despair and leaps right over it.

Gallants, **1/2

An homage to old-school kung-fu with a older cast that includes Chen Kuan-tai (Boxer From Shantung). It’s great to see some legends put together like this, but its ‘save the dojo’ plot has nagging pacing issues in its second half.

Ip Man 2, *

I’ve never been a fan of Donnie Yen & Wilson Yip’s slick, over-edited kung-fu filmmaking, but the focus on some great Wing Chun made the original Ip Man a highpoint for both. Unfortunately, Sammo Hung’s disappointing fight choreography and the inexplicable ripping-off of Rocky IV make this sequel almost unwatchable.

I Wish I Knew, ***1/2

Chinese filmmaker Zhangke Jia doesn’t make bad films, and this continues to hold true through this documentary on the history of Shanghai. Somewhat easy to get lost during, but unsurprisingly hypnotic with lush cinematography.

Pinoy Sunday, **

Two Filipino workers in Taiwan journey around town with a red couch. I’m guessing that this sub-culture doesn’t get much notice in cinema,
but that doesn’t stop this from feeling like a sub-par 90s American indie movie.

Poetry, ****

Chang-dong Lee is one of South Korea’s most acclaimed directors, but this is the first time his work has really clicked with me. Yun Jung-hee is stunning as a grandmother having to deal with problems concerning both her grandson and what could be the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, and she turns to poetry as means to describe and cope with her feelings. Poetry is a fascinating, meditative work that provides a unique perspective on how one relates and continues on in the face of tragedy, and stands as one of my ten favorites of the year.

Private Eye, **1/2

Fun, if slight, serial killer mystery. If you like those slick South Korean adventure/comedy/thriller films, here’s another.

Summer Wars, ****

The anime TV landscape has been dire in recent years, but thankfully not so with the movie output. Here, Mamoru Hosoda crafts a wonderfully animated story of a family coming together in time of crisis to fight a giant killer death ball of the internet. Enormously strong character work blend with an imaginative sci-fi plot to form one of the best modern anime works.

Talentime, *1/2

All this did was make me want to watch Linda Linda Linda again. Melodramatic Malaysian waste of time.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 2:08 pm