Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quick takes #3

Tae Kimura in Ryosuke Hashiguchi's All Around Us (2008).

All Around Us (Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008) - Ryosuke Hashiguchi returns to directing for the first time since 2001's Hush! with a drama about a married couple spanning over ten-something years, from the early 90's into the 00's. At first I was wondering where the film was going, what was the point of spending 140 minutes following this couple when the film didn't seem to go anywhere. There is no real story, no big conflict that needs to be resolved and I think that is one of the films strengths.

There are ups and downs, when their newborn child passes away, the wife goes into depression, but instead of some big eyeopening moment, it is worked out over time, years, through small things, things that makes it believable how their love grows stronger over the years despite their flaws. This along with the great acting from Lily Franky and Tae Kimura as the couple make the film and characters seem so much more real.

Once I got passed the lack of any real story and could just get into the film I noticed that I wanted to know what would happen next to this couple even if there was nothing happening at all.

Ong Bak 2 (Tony Jaa, 2008) - A simple story turned into a mess through an uninvolving, excrutiatingly boring first hour. I know, it's my own fault for expecting something as energy packed and cheap but entertaining as the first Ong Bak, but set in the 1400s instead of present day, but who didn't? Tony Jaa wanted more though, but maybe directing, writing, choreographing the fights and starring was too much for his directorial debut. Ong Bak 2 is basically a story about vengeance and what the right or wrong reasons behind violence can be and Jaa should be commended for his ambition, but in my opinion, he didn't pull it off.

The last half hour though is one great big fight scene with Jaa pulling together everything that his character learned earlier in the film and is the first time the film really comes to life, almost making the first 60 minutes worth sitting through, but then the ending is another let down. Due to all the troubles with the production, Jaa disappearing from the set for two months among others, they didn't have time to finish the film in time and the ending is used as a cliffhanger for part three which has been announced. I'm just not sure I want to see it if Jaa is still behind the camera.