Out of all the countries in the world, South Korea has definitely been my favorite when it comes to films outside of America. Obviously studying there helped a lot with exposing me to their culture and way of life. Furthermore, I took a course specifically on Korean Cinema where I managed to get an insight into their whole industry. From that course I acquired many recommendations. A key one being Lee Chang Dong who is easily in my top 3 favorite directors of all time. However, another person I heard a lot during the course was Hong Sang Soo. Although I heard about him many times during class, I never really thought of giving him a try because of all the other films that peaked my interest way more. Anyway, fast forward to yesterday where I was dead tired after a long week of work and I just felt like watching a simple film. I remembered Hong Sang Soo and though "Why not?". Boy was I glad I watched this film. Because not only was the film simple, it was exactly what I needed at the time. Furthermore, it has lit a fire in me again to go back and dabble in Korean cinema because I truly feel like it needs more love.
To believe or not to believe? That is the operative question of this film. At every second you are questioning what is real and what isn't. This is just one method Polanski used to try and induce fear and tension. Rosemary's Baby is classified as a horror film. Yet it has no jump scares, no scary imagery, no gruesome content, nothing truly disturbing. So how can this film be considered a horror? Well, Polanski managed to wisely use various techniques in order to induce the sense of fear in the person watching. These methods are so tricky to pull off right because they straddle a fine line between "edge of your seat" tension, and bored to death. I'm glad to say that Polanski managed to achieve the former. So let's dive into this complex film and see how a seemingly bare-bones horror film is able to have viewers biting their fingernails in dread and anticipation.
I started my journey with films back in 2010. Obviously back then I did not know much, and I am still learning to this day. However, back then, I had nothing to go on, and didn't know why certain films were considered "great". All I did was go to lists and try to watch the films that everyone was saying is good. I remember back in 2010 or 2011 I watched Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" (1957). After watching it, I did not know why it was considered good, or what made it a classic. However, I promised myself that one day I will get back to Bergman after I have learned more about film. Well, its been almost 8 years and I felt confident enough to watch something by him again. The reason I chose Persona is literally because of the first scene with the kid on the bed. I was just checking to see the footage quality and saw that shot, and I knew I wanted to watch this film. What happened in the next hour and a half was something I will never forget. If you enjoy surrealist films that elicit a strange emotion, then stop reading this review and watch the film. If you saw my score at the bottom you will know why.
I think I have this reputation between people that I know personally of being "not fun". Since every time I go into a blockbuster I leave the theater with this dissatisfied look and just had a horrible experience. Whereas everyone else was just there eating popcorn and shutting off their brains watching explosions. I obviously don't hate every blockbuster, but I am very critical of most of them. Because the worst thing I hate from films is not something being bad, its something being average. Films being average are in my opinion one of the biggest detriment to modern films. Since they live in this grey area where the film wasn't good in any certain way, but it wasn't bad as well. It was just okay. Which, should not be okay. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I am sick and tired of constantly being fed the same thing over and over again. This generic three act structure riddled with cheesy one-liners, forced romance, and awful plot. It just gets tiring to watch, and I went into Ready Player One with those crappy expectations of what I will see. However, one word came into my mind when I left the theater after watching this film. Entertaining.
This is the first film I review on this site which is this old. Partly because I have watched most of the classics of this time period. However I haven't seen all of them. Which is why, for the past 9 days I have managed to watch a classic film every day. M was one of them and I really wanted to review it in order to talk about some ideas. First of all, I want to say that I know that through my reviews I may seem like a huge film snob that thinks so highly of the classics and what they offered. That statement is partially true. I am a film snob, but I don't blindly love a classic just because it is one. Certain classics are considered as such because of the influence they had on later films, whether it be in certain technical aspects or even their story structures. However, there are some classics that personally do not feel enjoyable when viewing them now. Which is a given for some of them since not everything can age like wine. However, there are some classics that are timeless and I believe can be enjoyed whenever and wherever. Films such as Psycho, 12 Angry Men, Modern Times, and many more. To me, Fritz Lang's M is very close to that list but just not quite there.
If you know anything about my taste, you would know that horror films are one of my least favorite genres when it comes to film. Which is why for the past year I have been trying desperately to find horror films that I enjoy. I am not saying that I never enjoyed any. I mean The Shining is one of my favorite films of all time, but that's Kubrick, so it doesn't count. Anyway, in the past year I have been watching more horror than I have ever watched. I managed to find a lot of modern gems such as Get Out and to a certain extent Don't Breathe. However, through this journey, the thing I realized is that there is a sub-genre of horror that I began to really appreciate. That is, horror films which use prosthetics and makeup effects rather than CGI. This is why I think I really enjoyed films like The Fly, Alien, and now The Thing.
My experience watching Lady Bird was very strange. I had just watched The Shape of Water the day before, and had a lot of mixed feelings on that film. Wanting something different, I thought why not watch Lady Bird the next night. I sat down and the film started. Watching the first scene with the mother and Lady Bird in the car, I felt this awful feeling. Seeing this redheaded teen screaming at her mother demanding to be called Lady Bird because its her name, I was scared. I thought "here we go, this is something I will never be able to relate to". However, that feeling very quickly went away as Greta Gerwig pulled the rug from under me and showed me that even a red headed teen named Lady Bird full of angst and rebelliousness can be relatable to someone like me. In a year where films like Three Billboards, Shape of Water, and Darkest Hour are so unrelatable, here comes a simple film about a teen's final year in high school and shows them how to make something that connects with audiences.
Another big film this year is of course The Shape of Water. An interesting film and marks a big point in the career of Guillermo del Toro. Finally after years and years of film making, it seems like he will finally be able to snag some Oscars this year. Although I feel like other people definitely deserve it more (PTA), but still, it seems like he will get it. As with most films I watch, I did not know anything about The Shape of Water before seeing it. Which was hard to do, especially with all the hype. Nevertheless, I watched the film on Wednesday in theaters which really helped. After the first 10 minutes of the film I knew what I was getting into, and sort of managed to predict where it was going instantly. Although predictable, The Shape of Water still manages to have something meaningful. Whether or not you connect with that something is another story.
When I first heard about Three Billboards I instantly felt that this is going to be a film that I am going to enjoy. The film is rooted in reality, it has a simple yet unconventional story, and has a capable writer-director behind the wheels of the project. Everything about this film screams my taste. However, after finishing the film and not liking it, I kept on scratching my head thinking why it did not click with me. All of the elements of a film that I would like are in Three Billboards, yet I did not like it at all. It made me step back and actually think about what overall made me displeased and then look further down into the specifics from the film that lead that to happen. When thinking about all of that, I came up with correlations between this film and last year's Manchester by the Sea. To me both films feel very similar, but one has something that the other doesn't and that's the ability to connect with the characters. Which is basically my biggest crux when it comes to Three Billboards, and here's why.