What Women Want (2011)

20110117chendaming500Whatwomenwant2What-women-want-2011-movie-image-2-600x400What-women-want-2011-movie-image-3

What_Women_Want_Review.mp3

Running Time: 27 minutes 39 seconds

Aftershock (2010)

As3As1As2

Author’s Note: It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down and wrote anything for the blog. Most of the time I’ve been content on discussing movies I watched during the shows.It’s not that I feel rusty writing again, but that the movie I’m reviewing probably derserved both a written and audio review. I tried 3 days this week to record the podcast, but my voice would only hold up for about 10 minutes or so. Again, getting a hoarse voice is like “Broadcaster’s disease”, so for all of you wanting to hear my beautiful voice, I apologize.

Aftershock: Sometimes the survivors are worse off…

Words: Desmond Childs
 

One characteristic of great storytelling, in my opinion, is the continutity throughout. A character who has trouble swimming shouldn’t then be able to save his sister fromdrowning on sheer will. It’s sort of a weird, cheap cop-out. However, seeing that character learn, practice, and finally struggle himself into being able to doggie paddle just seems more rewarding to me, as part of the audience. I’d also like to think that character felt better about himself too. Anyhow, seeing characters being shaped, shifted, and molded by their experiences is always something that should be kept on reel. Of course in excess, learning how the intergalatic race of pod people living in “Monster B” came into being, would sorta get boring after awhile. It’s definietly a slippery slope; “How did he learn Kung-fu” but not “So when did the master, who taught his master, learn kung-fu”. Then again, having great writers can cause an audience to overlook the “extra” chunks of information that isn’t vital to the plot. EX: IP MAN 1, 2, and (3?). Aftershock is a film that deals with the lives of tramutized victims of an earthquake, as well as their families. It’s also a movie that goes thr extra mile and lays out the lives of the affected individuals for up to 32 years after the incident occured. Needless to say, their lives were still very much affected by the dieaster all those years before.

Directed By:

Feng Xiaogang

 

Feng_xiaogang

Mr. Feng got his start as a stage designer in the Beijing Military Region Art Troupe. Later, he began writing scripts based on the Chinese New Year celebrations. And finally, after carving himself a niche in that, he began to write for comedy films. Prior to Aftershock, which he did not write, he was know mostly for his comedic films. He would often use the actor, Ge You in his films and rarely strayed away from this setup. It was only recently that he decided that he wanted to expand past making only comedy movies.  Some of his accolades (and there are quite a few) include his screenplay for ‘A World without Thieves‘ winning a Golden Horse Award in 2005; as well as ‘A sigh’ winning Best Film in Cairo’s International Film Festival. His picture, ‘Assembly, also garnered some attention at the 28th Hong Kong film awards best asian pictures. Whatever the one-time stage designer is doing in movies, it most be working. Now on to the topic of his 2010 movie, Aftershock.

In Memory of those lost…

Aftershock is a well-put together project with a great cast of actors and actresses and an okay, CGI-laden production aesthetic that doesn’t bother too much. The events shown in this film are based off the Tangshan earthquakes of 1976. I’m not in the business of giving away large parts of the plot, so there are no spoiler warnings necessary here.

The story centers around a family of four that is caught right in the midst of the earthquake. The wife and husband initially make it out unscathed, but the kids are caught under the rubble. Things go from bad to worse when the husband makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect his wife, and she later has to decide between which of her kids to save. It’s one of those, “If you save this one, the other dies because of it” situations, and it’s pretty gutwrenching, even without a “tug at your heart strings” score backing it up. At this point the movie spilts in two, and later, thirds, as the survivors try to move on with their lives. We see the kids graduate and go off to college, have kids, get married, and so on. It’s really tough for me to describe a film with this much character without spoiling some plot points, so this will be another pretty straightforward review. There wasn’t anything in this film I did not like. I enjoyed every minute of it, and while several characters were added on toward the end of the film, I never felt like “it was too much”. Many of the people in the film have to deal with losing a loved one, or being a single parent, dealing with a underachieving child, etc. Thankfully, the movie is able to handle each issue with as little bias as possible, choosing not to make anyone seem “wrong” for the choices they make. Because we all know and understand that the real world’s “grey area” is all over, and very little is black in white; in this type of situation. If I still gave number or letter grades this one would score high where it counts. Engaging story based on history, memorable characters who I could relate to (sympathize with), and a production value that didn’t rely totally on CGI effects and gory scenes.

The film is on Netflix, go watch it. The movie trailer’s below, BADA-BING! BADA-BOOM:

What Women Want (2011)

20110117chendaming500Whatwomenwant2What-women-want-2011-movie-image-2-600x400What-women-want-2011-movie-image-3

Running Time: 27 minutes 39 seconds

 

City of Life and Death (2009)

City-of-life-and-death-1Nanjing-nanjingNanjing-nanjing_1

War is hell…simple as that

Words: Desmond Childs

I don’t know about you guys, but any depiction of war makes me cringe; and it seems as though “war” is something that has become a way of life the last 15, 20 years. I had to catch myself blowing off a story about how 3 or 4 more soldiers being killed in a roadside bombing a month or so ago. It’s weird how we’re able to desynthesize stories of murder and death as if they were nothing to scoff at. A life is a life, whether it’s some poor soldier in Iran, or it’s your nextdoor neighbor, we all gotta go sometime. Which was exactly what one of the characters in this film, “City of Life and Death” says right before ordering a “friend” to be executed. The movie takes all the horrible ideas and realities of war and places them on screen for us to tremble at. It’s hard for me to say I “enjoyed” watching “The Rape of Nanking”, but I did appreciate director Lu Chuan’s reconstructing the nightmare that was “The Battle of Nanking”.

Directed By:

Lu Chuan

Lu_chuan_hiv

Mr. Lu graduated (with a Master’s in Film studies) from Beijing Film Academy in 1998. Although he’s considered one of the better young directors in China, he actually got his start co-writing the television series, Black Hole; which was (at one point) the most watched television show in China. From there he jumped into his directorial debut in 2002 with ‘The Missing Gun’. He followed that project up with his film, ‘Mountain Patrol’; before his third film ‘City of Life and Death’. Although his sophomore effort is easily his most renowned film (17 different awards); his other two movies also garnered praise. As of now, he’s added two more films to the resume with ‘The Last Supper’ (2011) and ‘Shangai, I love you’ (2013). In ‘City of Life and Death’ which is filmed in black and white; the asthetic quality is in the shock value on screen. There are many outrageous, shocking things that take place on screen (i.e. throwing a child out a window); and so I spent those times crying out in an interesting mix of confusion, sorrow, and appreciation over Lu Chuan’s boldness in putting it into the movie.

Living is harder than dying…if you’re the last one alive!

So to lay the plot out for you guys; this film attempts to recreate the battle between Japanese and Chinese soldiers known as ‘The Rape of Nanking’. The protagonists being the Chinese underdogs are having to hold out against the evil, heartless Japanese threat. A number of characters flash in and out of the story and the meat of the picture seems to be in just the mass destruction, uncertainty, and hopelessness the Japanese managed to spread across the capital of the Republic of China. In case you’re a history buff, you’d probably recognize ‘The Rape of Nanking’ as being a part of the Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937-September 9, 1945).

As I mentioned earlier, the film plays out (at least the first 25 minutes or so) like some live, streaming coverage of a scrimmage; if the media were aloud to shoot close-ups of headshots and soldiers tossing grenades into rooms full of women and children. Yes, all nervous jokes aside, there are some shots Chuan frames in this film that really burned into my brain. In particular, the “comfort houses” Japanese soldiers made in order to rape Chinese women for hours on end (and to death in many cases). Also, the brutality toward the prisoners of war. I grew up understanding how awful the treat of the Jews by Nazi Germany was; but had no idea how bloody things got in China. I mean, early in the film, we get scenes of hundreds of prisoners being told to stand up and run toward a sea. The ones who made it were lucky enough to die by drowning while the not so lucky ones were gunned down by the Japanese machine gun nests. And I’m mean, no one survived. Well, one main character in this film does, but still. He was a kid, and that was by the grace of God. And in that sense, the entire movie rarely tried to add any artifical charm or hope where it wasn’t realistic to put. The only smiles we got in the film were from people who had accepted their fate, or from Japanese soldiers celebrating their victory over Nankin toward the end of the film. Well, again, the ending does give us some sort of hope, I guess? Or maybe it’s like a weird moment where two characters who had been to hell and back got to enjoy some sort of normalacy after all the blood and death. Who knows, but this film is one I’d recommend to people who want to ‘see what really happened’. By no means are rape scenes and scenes of brutal violence ‘glorified’ but they do indeed dominate a major chunk of the movie; so be ready to squirm a little in your easy chair. While you drink your bottle of Pepsi, and pop a gummy bear into your pampered, American craw.

Check out the trailer below:

Aftershock (2010)

As3As1As2

Author’s Note: It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down and wrote anything for the blog. Most of the time I’ve been content on discussing movies I watched during the shows.It’s not that I feel rusty writing again, but that the movie I’m reviewing probably derserved both a written and audio review. I tried 3 days this week to record the podcast, but my voice would only hold up for about 10 minutes or so. Again, getting a hoarse voice is like “Broadcaster’s disease”, so for all of you wanting to hear my beautiful voice, I apologize.

Aftershock: Sometimes the survivors are worse off…

Words: Desmond Childs
 

One characteristic of great storytelling, in my opinion, is the continutity throughout. A character who has trouble swimming shouldn’t then be able to save his sister fromdrowning on sheer will. It’s sort of a weird, cheap cop-out. However, seeing that character learn, practice, and finally struggle himself into being able to doggie paddle just seems more rewarding to me, as part of the audience. I’d also like to think that character felt better about himself too. Anyhow, seeing characters being shaped, shifted, and molded by their experiences is always something that should be kept on reel. Of course in excess, learning how the intergalatic race of pod people living in “Monster B” came into being, would sorta get boring after awhile. It’s definietly a slippery slope; “How did he learn Kung-fu” but not “So when did the master, who taught his master, learn kung-fu”. Then again, having great writers can cause an audience to overlook the “extra” chunks of information that isn’t vital to the plot. EX: IP MAN 1, 2, and (3?). Aftershock is a film that deals with the lives of tramutized victims of an earthquake, as well as their families. It’s also a movie that goes thr extra mile and lays out the lives of the affected individuals for up to 32 years after the incident occured. Needless to say, their lives were still very much affected by the dieaster all those years before.

Directed By:

Feng Xiaogang

Feng_xiaogang

Mr. Feng got his start as a stage designer in the Beijing Military Region Art Troupe. Later, he began writing scripts based on the Chinese New Year celebrations. And finally, after carving himself a niche in that, he began to write for comedy films. Prior to Aftershock, which he did not write, he was know mostly for his comedic films. He would often use the actor, Ge You in his films and rarely strayed away from this setup. It was only recently that he decided that he wanted to expand past making only comedy movies.  Some of his accolades (and there are quite a few) include his screenplay for ‘A World without Thieves’ winning a Golden Horse Award in 2005; as well as ‘A sigh’ winning Best Film in Cairo’s International Film Festival. His picture, ‘Assembly, also garnered some attention at the 28th Hong Kong film awards best asian pictures. Whatever the one-time stage designer is doing in movies, it most be working. Now on to the topic of his 2010 movie, Aftershock.

In Memory of those lost…

Aftershock is a well-put together project with a great cast of actors and actresses and an okay, CGI-laden production aesthetic that doesn’t bother too much. The events shown in this film are based off the Tangshan earthquakes of 1976. I’m not in the business of giving away large parts of the plot, so there are no spoiler warnings necessary here.

The story centers around a family of four that is caught right in the midst of the earthquake. The wife and husband initially make it out unscathed, but the kids are caught under the rubble. Things go from bad to worse when the husband makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect his wife, and she later has to decide between which of her kids to save. It’s one of those, “If you save this one, the other dies because of it” situations, and it’s pretty gutwrenching, even without a “tug at your heart strings” score backing it up. At this point the movie spilts in two, and later, thirds, as the survivors try to move on with their lives. We see the kids graduate and go off to college, have kids, get married, and so on. It’s really tough for me to describe a film with this much character without spoiling some plot points, so this will be another pretty straightforward review. There wasn’t anything in this film I did not like. I enjoyed every minute of it, and while several characters were added on toward the end of the film, I never felt like “it was too much”. Many of the people in the film have to deal with losing a loved one, or being a single parent, dealing with a underachieving child, etc. Thankfully, the movie is able to handle each issue with as little bias as possible, choosing not to make anyone seem “wrong” for the choices they make. Because we all know and understand that the real world’s “grey area” is all over, and very little is black in white; in this type of situation. If I still gave number or letter grades this one would score high where it counts. Engaging story based on history, memorable characters who I could relate to (sympathize with), and a production value that didn’t rely totally on CGI effects and gory scenes.

The film is on Netflix, go watch it. The movie trailer’s below, BADA-BING! BADA-BOOM: