Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

January 27, 2011


Here's a quick review on Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.


I have always appreciated the hypnotic pace of Apichatpong Weerasethakul films. He directs with a different set of rules that is inexplicable. His Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century and now Uncle Boonmee all exist in their own pensive realms where everything and nothing happens.

As the title suggests, Uncle Boonmee deals with the subject of death and transcendence but not in the way you would expect. Rather, what we get is a bizarre mixture of folklore and the supernatural. A tranquil evening for the dying Uncle Boonmee is interrupted when two people from his past suddenly resurface.  There’s his dead wife who returns as a spectre and his son, who long ago vanished into the jungle pursuing spooky monkey ghosts. To further complicate matters, Boonmee no longer recognizes his son, who now has become a monkey ghost himself. As if all of this wasn’t baffling enough, Boonmee’s story temporary stops to make way for a fable about a talking catfish who rids an aging princess of her melancholy by copulating with her. And then there’s a mini-story with a sci-fi twist told entirely in photographs.

Trying to decipher the meaning of the film is impossible because of its esoteric nature. It is best to give into the bewildering narrative and breathtaking beauty of the imagery and allow the film to bring you to an intoxicating place that’s unlike any other cinematic world you have seen before.

In Defence of Adam Morrison

January 10, 2011


Now, I know this blog is primary about the celluloid world and the content usually reflects this.

But for once, I’m going to veer off from film and talk about something else. That something is basketball, to be more precise, I’m going to wax poetic on basketball and Adam Morrison. Why all of a sudden am I compelled to write about Adam Morrison and basketball on a film blog? Well, the easy answer is, because it’s my blog. I control the content, so I can write about whatever my heart desires. So, with all that said, no film review, just my thoughts on Adam Morrison and the NBA.

Adam Morrison has always been a fascinating figure to me. My first impression of Morrison was that he was a mercurial character who looked like a musician who belonged in the Seattle grunge scene and that he sported a wicked handle bar moustache. Also, like anyone else who sorta follows basketball, I was utterly intrigued when I saw him openly weep when Gonzaga was defeated by UCLA.

So what happened? How did a supersensitive handlebar sporting ball player who was on his way to becoming a legitimate NBA star fall so far from NBA grace?

During the 2006 NBA draft, Morrison was expected to be one of the top three prospects. Critics believed that he was an accomplished scorer who could provide instant offence but expressed concern for his inability to play defense, run and his overall weirdness. Morrison eventually ended up going third, handpicked by MJ to carry his young Bob Cats team.

Morrison’s NBA career unfolded just as people thought it would. He had a solid rookie season that showcased his knack for scoring but also highlighted his inability to play defense, run and his overall weirdness. Sounds familiar? Coming in to the NBA, everybody in this planet knew that about Morrison! Calling him a bust and criticising him for his many shortcomings as a basketball play is the equivalent to a film director casting Keanu Reeves in a heavy duty dramatic role and then chastising him for not having the acting crops to pull it off. Well, what were you expecting? Those who lambasted Morrison for not meeting his potential as a ballplayer are missing the point. His tragedy is not that he failed to accomplish anything during his time in the NBA. Rather it’s the fact that he managed to fail exactly the way we all thought he would. Now that’s sad.

Adam Morrison is no longer playing in the NBA. The Washington Wizards waived him, despite being one of the lowest scoring teams in the NBA.

By David Lam


The Return of The DVD Store

December 24, 2009


Remember the good old days when all you used to do was go to a DVD store  in Chinatown or any Asian mall and scour the endless racks for new and obscure Asian films?  Remember how in the late 90s these stores foolishly replaced their extensive Asian film catalogue for cam versions of the latest American flicks? Many of them got raided by the police and had to close or move to a different location.

Well they're back, at least in Toronto that is, and boy am I glad. I'm seeing more and more DVD stores popping up  with impressive selection of old school Shaw Bros films, the latest  Hong Kong offerings and even some out of print Criterion stuff.

The best part is the price. Many of these shops are running sweet deals:


Deal of the day:

3 Disc collection of the One Armed Swordsman 1-3

Seven Swords (3 Disc  Set)

The Lunatics

Vampire Vs Vampire


Trivial Matters

All for $11, not bad eh?

I Come With The Rain

December 14, 2009



Oh my, this movie has been on my most anticipated list for two years now. If you haven’t seen the 5 minute promo reel online, do yourself a favor and check it out. First of all, you’ll be hard press to find another movie with a more appealing cast than I Come With The Rain. It features a who’s who of Asian cinema and throws in a decent Hollywood leading man for good measure. Then there’s art house favorite Tran Anh Hung behind the camera, getting carte blanche to go all art house on us. To top it all off, the movie features a gloomy Radiohead soundtrack that’s sure to get all the cool kids drooling. 

So why did this movie get designated to the wasteland where all unreleased movies go? It came and went in Japan and Korea and I don’t know if there will ever be a North American release. So what happened? 

Well, lets get into the plot first. Josh Hartnett plays Kline a cop turned private detective  who after a very nasty encounter with a serial killer (Elias koteas) is left emotionally traumatized. He’s hired by the head honcho of a pharmaceutical company to find his long estranged son Shitao (Takuya kimura), who’s apparently slumming it in the Philippines. Once Kline arrives, the detective who was originally hired to find Shitao believes that miners have killed him but still nevertheless convinces him to go to Hong Kong to get to the bottom of it.. From there he hooks up with a buddy Meng Zi (Shawn Yu), who conveniently happens to be a cop ends up bumping heads with a ruthless crime boss Su Dongpo (Lee Byung-hun). 

So as you can tell, I Come With The Rain presents itself as a psychological cat and mouse thriller but in actuality is a bona fide art house offering. Hung lavishly fills each frame with a saturated colour palette, awkward camera angles and a moody soundtrack. All of this works if you’re content with the story being secondary and action being replaced with characters stuck in a meditative state.  I for one appreciated the craft and the hypnotic pacing of the movie but I can definitely see people being turned off by the excessive of it all.  

Acting wise, everyone is pretty much bringing it full force. Shawn Yu is refreshingly solid as the arrogant cop who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Koteas is appropriately sinister as Hasford the serial killer, while Byung-hun’s Dongpo is brutal and oddly sympathetic at the same time. The most surprising though of the bunch is Hartnett who is able to convey his character’s crippling sense of dread without ever going overboard. His Kline is a tortured mess who’s constantly on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

  A knock against the movie would be that Hung crams every frame with some sort of biblical reference which by the end gets really tiresome. Also, as cool as the Radiohead soundtrack is, it gets to a point where you’re wondering if this is a music video you’re watching.


An uneven movie that is at times startling, meandering and eerily beautiful. It’s overstuffed with style but lacking in substance. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, heck, Wong Kar Wai made an entire career out of it.

Love Exposure

December 13, 2009




The Plot:  The burden of religion, the meaning of love and the aimlessness of youth all play equal parts in Sion Sono's latest opus. Yu is an all around good kid trying to find his footing in the world after the death of his mother. He goes to school, hangs out with friends and hopes to find a Virgin Mary he can call the love of his life (the dying wishes of his mother). Then there's Yu's father who's a tormented priest who hasn't been quite the same since the passing of his wife. He's rather fed up with religion and is obsessed with sinning and confession. He rambles at church, appears to be insane at times and manages to totally neglect his son. So Yu does what any good son would do to set his father back on the right path, he deliberately goes out and commits every sin in the book, in order to be able to confess to his father. All this and it's only the prologue. Did I mention this movie clocks in at nearly 4 hours?

First of all, you would expect a movie tackling so many heavy topics to unavoidably take itself too seriously. This movie never does, its biggest  strength is that it's able to find humour in the murkiest of situations. Sion Sono expertly uses his camera to zoom into the messy lives of his characters in order to find the common tread that runs through them.  It's religon that brings them together but at what cost?

And then there's the whole up-skirt photography subplot that I'm sure will raise some eyebrows. For Yu, taking pictures of girls' crotches at first, is meant   to be a deliberate way to sin and get his father's attention. As the movie progresses though, we see it develope into an obsession that causes him to pretty much lead a double life. He's ashamed of it but at the same time he embraces it, because he's good at it. His knack for taking crotch shots is the only logical thing in an otherwise nonsensical world. It's a ballsy stance to take, but to Sono's credit,  he never backs away. It's almost as if he said to himself, this is the position my movie is going to take and that's that.

Conclusion:  It's a dangerous movie that some will dismiss as being over the top  and misanthropic. And at nearly 4 hours, I can see people losing patience.  My thought is , from start to finish, this movie  never falters. It manages to be smart, funny, affecting and overall engaging. Definitely one of the best of the year!

The Day In Review

December 12, 2009


Today was a long but somewhat productive day.

The majority of the day was as spent Christmas shopping, which is always an ordeal. Too little time and too many people to buy for. For me there's nothing more tiresome and claustrophobic than being in a mall overstuffed with people.

Despite the headache of Christmas shopping and being trampled over by strangers, I  did manage to make my way to Chinatown(not really a town, more of a novelty street)  to pick up some movies for $2 each. Here's what I picked up:

1. I Come With The Rain (Japan) - Absolutely can not wait to see this. Saw a 5 min promo reel of this movie online awhile ago and was immediately taken by the international cast and how stylished it looked.  Expectations are high, I'm basically teeming with excitement right now. If it's a cam version I'm going to burst out in tears.

2. Goddess of Mercy (Hong Kong/Taiwan) -  Heard great things about this movie but could never get my hands on a copy until now. I'm not a big Ann Hui fan but the plot and cast seems rather intriguing.

3. Colour Of The Truth (Hong Kong) -  The synopsis on the back of the dvd doesn't make sense and the fact that Wong Jing is involved in it doesn't give me much hope. But with that said, it does feature Anthony Wong, Lau Ching Wan and Jordan Chan and is co directed by Marco Mak. So this one's definitely the dark horse of the bunch.

4. McDdull, Prince de la Bun ( Hong Kong) -  Who doesn't love a little Mcdull? This one for some reason was hard to find until now.

5. Yi Yi The Criterion Collection (Taiwan) -  Seen this one before and loved it. It features a new transfer and comes loaded with special features. Edward Yang is sorely missed.

6. Bullets Over Summer ( Hong Kong) -  Seen this many years ago, have always wanted to revisit it. I remember it features a frantic Francis Ng running all over Hong Kong yelling at people while wiping away beads of sweat from his forehead.  Also may have been the last proper Wilson Yip film before he went all Donnie Yen and CGI crazy on all of us. I really hate Yip Man and fucking Tiger Dragon Gate.

Scared Stiff 小生梦惊魂

December 12, 2009






Director: Lau Kar Wing

Cast: Michael Miu, Eric Tsang, Anita Mu and Chow Yun Fat.




That fucking snarl is priceless


Plot: Where to start? There's Eric Tsang as a bumbling idiot who pretends to be a robot maid(not kidding) and the stone faced Michael Miu as a womanizer/Jedi warrior. Then there's Chow Yun Fat as...forget it, this movie is just too wild to explain.

Michael Miu is sort of a revelation here. Known for his stoic and impossibly boring acting approach, Miu actually fairs quite well in this quirky little movie. He's charismatic, funny and pretty effective in moments of suspense. He almost manages to upstage the always dependable Chow Yun Fat, here playing a crooked cop out for blood.

 Chow for the most of the film seems to be relishing the oportunity to play something besides a heroic badass who's never morally conflicted. And since he's clearly having fun playing the villain, we as the audience completely buy it.

 Eric Tsang is Eric Tsang, short, chubby and annoyingly high pitched.

 The directing by Lau Ka Wing is nothing short of zany. The movie zips along moving from screwball comedy to mellow drama and finally turns into a violent crime thriller all quite smoothly.

Conclusion: The bottom line is, this movie despite a slow start, wins you over with its wackiness and manages to be ridiculously watchable.