Trailer: Studio Ghibli’s The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

It seems now that Japan’s Studio Ghibli is awaiting auteurs to step up on native soil, they have turned to some international co-productions to keep the lights on. If Dutch director Michaël Dudok de Wit is any indication of this new collaboration arrangement, I am happy to see the direction things go. The Red Turtle looks gorgeous, has a hand animated aesthetic, with a flair for visual and emotional storytelling. The film premiers at Cannes this week. The trailer is below.

Hot Docs 2016 Review: Brothers


In Aslaug Holm’s gorgeously shot documentary on her own children – make no mistake, this is no home movie, but a rigorous 16mm film production by a veteran filmmaker – a recurring image is laundry hanging out on the line on the breezy Norwegian coast. In a sense Holm is airing her laundry figuratively as well, in Brothers, a decade long project capturing her two boys, Lukas and Markus, from ages 5 and 8 all the way into their teenage years.

The sparse images, photographs and film, Holm possesses of herself as a child, and even less media her own parents and extended family, led the urge preserve her offspring on film in a way that captures the hopes and dreams of children when their future remains completely ahead of them. The document she herself never had. She is not shy of bringing herself into the film, insofar as a reminder of the strings and mirrors of doing this sort of activity amongst the bustle of family life. As any good scientist knows, to observe an experiment is to affect the results in some capacity, and Holm and her camera factor into the frame honestly.

Markus loves soccer, and there are many shots of him practicing on a dirt pitch with his father and younger brother. Lukas has a more love-hate-love relationship with sports in general that is summed up with another recurring shot, that of the boys on the edge of a dock-house daring to jump into the water (as metaphors go, it’s powerfully obvious in that it is both obvious and powerful) at various ages.

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Trailer: Men & Chicken

A lot of people get confessional, or get hit on the head (often both at the same time) in Anders Thomas Jensen’s farcical comedy, Men & Chicken Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Nicolas Bro and many other familiar Danish faces, the film is about a pair of socially-challenged siblings who discover they are adopted half-brothers in their late father’s videotaped will. Their journey in search of their true father takes them to the small, insular Danish island of Ork, where they stumble upon three additional half-brothers—each also sporting hereditary harelips and lunatic tendencies—living in a dilapidated mansion overrun by barn animals. Hitting ensues.

Drafthouse films acquired the film, and have cut a domestic trailer for the film which they are releasing very soon.

Trailer: Paul Verhoeven’s Elle

It’s a trick. Get an axe.

Isabelle Huppert does exactly that in the french language trailer for Paul Verhoeven’s latest film, Elle. While the lack of subtitles makes one without very good french do some of the work, the essential story is a very libertarian woman decides to take things into her own hands after a masked man starts terrorizing him. Because this is a Verhoeven film, she very likely has sex with her interloper.

It’s good to see the crazy Dutch satirist back in full Hollywood style form, like many classic directors who were run out of Tinseltown for myriad reasons, he has located himself in France (albeit after a decade dalliance back in his homeland that produced at least one good film).

This just shot up to one of my most anticipated films of 2016. The film should be opening around the time of the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

When Michelle, the CEO of a gaming software company, is attacked in her home by an unknown assailant, she refuses to let it alter her precisely ordered life. She manages crises involving her 75-year-old sex kitten mother, her imprisoned mass murderer father, her spoiled and immature son, her ex-husband and her lover, all with the same icy equanimity. This is the approach she brings to the situation when it appears that her assailant is not finished with her. As the mysterious stalker hovers in the shadows of her life, taunting her, Michelle cooly stalks him back. What emerges between Michelle and her stalker is a kind of game, a game that soon spirals out of control.

Trailer: The New Girlfriend

Turbo Kid

Searing violin, critical exclamations (“Erotic”, “Perverse”, “Brilliant!”) and a beautiful rhythm all make the brief trailer for François Ozon’s one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Everything seems heightened in a way that Alfred Hitchcock probably would have loved.

A young woman’s closest friend, passes away leaving behind a husband, and a newborn baby. One day she drops by his house unexpectedly, and finds him dressed in his dead wife’s clothes and feeding their baby with a bottle. He explains that his dead wife was well aware of his predilection, and eventually, so relieved that he has someone to share his secret with he begins to identify more strongly as a female this leads to confusing and conflicting feelings.

The film premiered at TIFF almost a year ago, today, and it is getting a US theatrical release on September 18, 2015.

Trailer: Louder Than Bombs

Norwegian director Joachim Trier, a darling on the festival circuit after 2006’s Reprise and 2011’s Oslo, August 31, returns with his English language debut, Louder than Bombs, which stars the ubiquitous Jesse Eisenberg, the always wonderful Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne, David Straithairn and the boy who plays ‘Young Louis’ on Louis CK’s TV show, Devin Druid. His understated but powerful visual style is in full display in the trailer below.

An upcoming exhibition celebrating photographer Isabelle Reed three years after her untimely death, brings her eldest son Jonah back to the family house – forcing him to spend more time with his father Gene and withdrawn younger brother Conrad than he has in years. With the three of them under the same roof, Gene tries desperately to connect with his two sons, but they struggle to reconcile their feelings about the woman they remember so differently

Having already played Cannes and Karlovy Vary film festivals, and with Trier’s previous two films playing the Toronto International Film Festival in the past, here is hoping that some of us can catch this on this side of the pond before quite far off its April 2016 release date. If you’re in Norway, however, Louder Than Bombs opens in October.

A link to the trailer and two embedded clips are both tucked under the seat.

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Fantasia 2015 Review: Crumbs

Ethiopian post apocalypse dystopian fairy tale Crumbs has a decaying handsomeness to match its unique vision. It has a confident and accomplished auteur unwillingness for either pandering or traditionally pleasing its audience while simultaneously offering an archetypal hero-journey tale. An optimistic message (“the ducks are coming home…”) cloaked in a walkabout of despair and confusion that leads ultimately to ‘home is where the heart is.’ platitudes that are not platitudes for sheer will of the performances.

That eerie feeling you get wandering the early morning fog of an abandoned theme park is what Miguel Llansó has harnessed here, and the gorgeous melancholy is tempered with a sharp wit and soothing empathy. The film is a balm. It is also an African riff on Stalker, with the whole world being Tarkovsky’s uncanny Zone. It has a similar abandoned train-yard, a pretty young woman left at home in a deliciously decayed bowling alley. Water bubbles and broils in the post-nuclear desert of sulphur formations while the few remaining humans scavenge and weld. A curious space-ship floats in the sky similar to South Africa’s District 9, albeit similarities to Neill Blomkamp’s debut feature sharply end here.

Those on earth, in particular, hunchbacked pacifist Candy, dream of marshalling the means to get to that ship, as if it were the last hopeful place. It will take his journey through the wasteland towards a meeting with the fabled prophet Santa Claus, avoiding the ‘Second Generation Nazis’ and other third century Molegan warriors. Holy artifacts such as an acrylic painted vulcanized rubber Ninja Samurai Statue (i.e. a happy meal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure), a vinyl copy of Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” and other twentieth century pop cultural detritus delicately litter the world and act as a kind of talismans of hope and desire; as well as consumer currency for a comically cynical pawn shop broker at the end of space and time. A photo of sweat-beaded-on-his-forehead, Michael Jordan clothed in his Chicago Bulls uniform is Buddha, Shiva and Christ, all rolled into one. It is played for easy yuks, and yet they still land. More sophisticated comedy is also present in the Santa Claus’ inflexible process. It reminds me of a mix of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil mashed with Mel Brook’s Spaceballs: “Fuck! Even in the post-apocalypse nothing works without bureaucracy!”

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Review: Baahubali – The Beginning

Director: S.S. Rajamouli (Eega)
Writers: S.S. Rajamouli, Vijayendra Prasad
Producer: Prasad Devineni
Starring: Rana Daggubati, Satyaraj, Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Tamannaah Bhatia
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 159 min.



The original posting of this review can be found at Malaysian Blogger/Journalist Allan Koay’s website, The Storyboard


Some years ago, when Aamir Khan’s Ghajini came out, a friend of mine was all excited to see it solely because it was a remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, which was one of his favourite films. He did, and came away sorely disappointed, even though it generated positive reviews, achieved blockbuster status in India and did well around the world. The problem was, he had gone to the movie expecting it to be like Memento, but was met with the usual Hindi song-and-dance and melodrama.

The problem was, he didn’t understand Indian cinema.

The film industry in India is one of the biggest, most prolific in the world. Forbes reported that 1,602 films were produced in 2012 alone. The Indian film industry is also completely self-sustaining. By number of tickets alone, Bollywood outsells even Hollywood (even though Hollywood revenues remain unmatched).

So, why did that friend of mine not get Indian films?

The massive juggernaut that is Baahubali, the Telugu/Tamil fantasy epic directed by S.S. Rajamouli, has a story that we’ve come to be all too familiar with – the rivalry between a good king and his evil brother who usurps the throne while the good king’s son escapes death as an infant only to return as an adult to avenge his father. Yet the film works, for two reasons. One, it is well-directed, imaginative, a barrel of fun and is genuinely exciting. And two, it is appropriately over-the-top, melodramatic and fearlessly idiosyncratic in the grand, old Indian-cinema tradition.

The film also uses Hollywood fantasy-epic conventions, such as two colliding hordes on a battlefield and stylish slo-mo’s, something we’ve seen over and over and should now be a tiresome staple of big battle scenes. But in the hands of Rajamouli, there are many refreshing twists and turns in Baahubali‘s 45-minute battle where everything that happens advances the story, unlike in a Hollywood film where big battles are mostly just for showing off CGI.

Yet, I knew I wasn’t just seeing an Indian-cinema version of a Hollywood fantasy epic. What I was experiencing was quite something else. I started to think about why I like Indian cinema and what draws me to it.

Like no other cinema in the world.

Mainstream Indian films work according to their own rules and by their own logic. They are like no other mainstream films in the world. In fact, Indian mainstream cinema is like no other in the world.

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*NSFW* Teaser: Love

What space would be possible for avant-garde French director, Gaspar Noe to go after Enter The Void? Well, clearly, a 3D sex film that could play Cannes was the direction he took, and indeed, it played (somewhat muted in response however) at the festival in May. Love in 3D now has a teaser trailer that gives new definition to ‘fade to white.’ Need I say that this one is not for watching in casual mixed company?

The trailer is tucked under the seat.

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Trailer: Baahubali

If you managed to catch the gonzo science-fiction romantic comedy slash revenge picture (musical), Eega from the Telugu speaking region of India, you might be wondering how does one follow up a movie about sentient housefly who tries to assassinate his romantic rival to win the pretty artist girl.

The answer that question can be found in the trailer for Baahubali: The Beginning. Namely, to make a Ridley Scott sized epic that is equal parts Game of Throne and Battle of Red Cliff. Yes the acting and special effects here often veer into silliness (note the raging bull), but the filmmaker has a way of mixing his sense of humour and over-the-top indulgences in a very self deprecating way. How this plays out in the sword and sandal epic he has crafted remains a mystery, but expect Telugu cinema to come out of the tiny cult circles in North America, and into some kind of light with this big-production design epic, that judging from “The Beginning” subtitle, is one of many from director S.S. Rajamouli.

Clips from Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster

Not exactly a trailer, but given the general weirdness intrinsic to the films of Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, ALPS), they could function as one. Much like his French contemporary, Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Wrong), film-language and odd characters are the driving force to understanding the extreme ends of human behavior.

An architect checks into a hotel after his wife leaves him. Set in a society that highly values relationships, the architect has but 45 days to find a new partner or else he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing.

The Lobster is currently playing at Cannes, Lanthimos has a cast of international stars including Collin Farell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman and Lea Seydoux. Watch some of them speak in sublimely weird ways in the two clips which are tucked under the seat.

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