Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quick takes #6

The villains of Yatterman (Takashi Miike, 2009).

(Takashi Miike, 2009) - Miike continues the work that he started in 2005 with The Great Yokai War and makes another kids movie that isn't entirely appropriate for children. At first look it's a mess of a film. It feels fragmented, like a bunch of set pieces cobbled together more than an actual plot, but in the end Miike won me over by still having the energy of his earlier films intact and crazy ideas coming at you faster than you can register what you just saw. Yatterman is a fun, fast paced, entertaining film. And it's full of mechas.

Samurai Zombie (Tak Sakaguchi, 2008) - A group of criminals, an ordinary family and a couple of cops are stuck in a forest where the dead come back to life due to an ancient curse. Sound familiar? Samurai Zombie is another Versus (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2000) clone that tries to add some more story to the proceedings with a messed up love story and I think that is why it fails. What made Versus so great was its simplicity, it had a forest, zombies and a bunch of criminals battling it out for two hours and that was it, focus was put on the action being as exciting as possible. It also doesn't help that the star of Versus, Tak Sakaguchi, is the director of Samurai Zombie, which is several notches below his other directorial effort of 2008, Be a Man!! Samurai School, or that Ryuhei Kitamura who directed Versus wrote the script, when it's so obvious that they are out of ideas when it comes to action films. Nothing either of them has made post-Versus has lived up to what was expected of them and Samurai Zombie doesn't even come close.

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2000) - I don't think I'll ever be a fan of Wong Kar Wai, he's just too good of a filmmaker. I didn't really know what to expect from In the Mood for Love, somehow I've managed to avoid reading anything about it except that it's supposed to be great and when it started playing it didn't take long before I was thoroughly bored. The acting, cinematography, music, everything is such a perfect fit that I couldn't help feeling disinterested. It wasn't until right before the end credits that I realized the knot in my stomach, that beneath the perfect, polished surface the film packs an emotional punch that feels real and never sentimental. I believe this is one of the best and most mature films about love that I've ever seen but I still can't call myself a fan, I won't be picking up Wong's other films, not until I'm more mature myself. I wouldn't be able to handle the perfection.

Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love (2000).