Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.
The Grandmaster (2013)
Directed by: Wong Kar-Wai
Country: China / Hong Kong / France
Cult filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai is back, bringing with him Tony Leung and Zizi Zhang as stars. We cannot find many movies with the elegance and passion of “In The Mood For Love”, but “The Grandmaster” brings to our mind some of its best moments, adopting the same poetic approach to depict another impossible love. The novelty here is the addition of some action through martial arts, since the story was inspired in Yip Man’s life, the kung-fu master who would come to teach the legendary Bruce Lee. The film covers three different periods: 1930’s Foshan in China where he was recognized as a master, the difficult life in Hong Kong after the Japanese invasion, and finally from 1952 till his death in 1972. We also get to know the sad fate of Gong Er, a master’s daughter who became secretly in love with Yip Man after a challenging fight. Kar-Wai’s camera work remains very strong where the richness of the plans and aesthetical care were crucial to catch our eye. To tell the truth, the visual aspect was much stronger than the story itself, which despite being interesting didn’t reveal the mystique of previous adventures. “The Grandmaster”, not being a masterpiece, is a sumptuous accomplishment that puts together a dissimulated love, revenge, sacrifice, and martial arts in the form of floating dances (preferably in the rain).
The Hunt (2012)
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
After the immediate success of “The Celebration” in 98, Thomas Vinterberg has been lost in mediocre plots. Finally, with the gripping “The Hunt”, he shows once again what he is capable of. The story, written by Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm (“R”, “A Hijacking”), depicts two hellish months in the life of Lucas, a divorced daycare worker who is struggling for his son’s custody. The troubles start when a little girl, who also happens to be the daughter of his best friend, tells the daycare director that Lucas showed his penis. When the director called him, he seems not to give much importance to the case or even try to defend himself. This scene intentionally aims to bewilder us. In a blink of an eye, Lucas loses his job, is abandoned by his new girlfriend, becomes threatened in many ways, and ends desperately alone. The film is filled with tension and is done in such way that the doubt persists till the end. It was incredible how many times I convinced myself that Lucas was innocent, but then some behavior or conversation made me go back again in my opinion. Mads Mikkelsen and the young Annika Wedderkop had first-rate performances, while the direction was very effective and determined. The heaviness of the matter was handled thoughtfully, provoking a variety of intense emotions, and making “The Hunt” one of the most gratifying experiences of 2013 so far.
All That Matters Is Past (2012)
Directed by: Sara Johnsen
Sara Johnsen’s third feature-film had a promising start, but in fact did not provide us with a great storytelling. It reconstructs the happenings that led to a double killing, involving William and Ruud, two brothers who hated each other since childhood, when they both moved from Sweden to Norway and fell in love with the same girl, Janne. The latter, as only witness, will clarify the story, which was oddly narrated by the policewoman responsible for the investigation. Using frequent flashbacks to their youth, the plot was a prolonged mess of encounters and separations, jealous situations, abandoned babies, illegal immigration, kidnaps, and sexual abuses. The incidents, presented in a confusing order, diverted our attention from the story’s center. Actually, the film drags for long periods, evincing a slowness of processes that never pushed me to care much about its characters. Using a tragic soundtrack along with a sorrowful narration, “All That Matters Is Past” is a bleak tale that often uses unnecessary scenes to impress (like a childbirth or a goat’s slaughter) and almost never shakes the viewer for the right reasons. Merely a promise…
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