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Here’s a bunch of films that I saw last year but can’t be assed didn’t get round to properly writing up. Opinions welcome in the comments. Enjoy.

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

  • Classic ‘middle movie’.
  • Set up is pretty much the same as before – twist, forced back in to games
  • Games are decent, but again, PG – toned down – action.
  • Seymour-Hoffman gobbling down scenery as a baddie
  • So long for what little new stuff is shown
  • Infuriatingly bogus non-ending – just as it gets interesting
  • Bad news that 3rd movie has been split in two… lame money-grabbing.
  • PEEEETTAAAHHHHH!!!!

Score: 4/10

TAGS: PETAH!, PEEETAH!, PEEEEEEETAAAAHHHH!, PPEEEEEEEEETTTTAAAAAHHHHHH!, PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTAAAAAHHHHHH!

Parker

  • Jason Statham doing another slightly-better-than-average Jason Statham type action movie.
  • Felt like one big excuse to get J-Lo down to her pants. I’m sure there’s a quicker, cheaper way somewhere…
  • Statham fucking loves playing guys with a code. He’s totes de-throning Segal as ‘King of Codes’.
  • Action’s good – but there’s pretty much nothing new on the table.

Score: 6/10

TAGS: That-film-where-Jason-Statham-has-a-moral-code-and-plays-a-balding-athletic-guy-in-a-suit-without-a-tie-that-gets-into-bother-with-loads-oft-ough-guys. Bad accents.

Tue Blood (Season 1):

  • Over-sexed, trashy vampire-fantasy soft-porn for soccer moms.
  • Izzie Caplin… such love. so wow.
  • Sex, nudity, promiscuity, forbidden pleasures, lust, banging
  • Feels like the female equivalent of Spartacus: blood and tits… sand.
  • Even a junkie / addict is glamoured up: it’s all about drinking sexy red blood, not taking filthy drugs.
  • Too much chat about inner-demons that gets a bit boring.

Score: 7/10

TAGS: Dick Gout, Fangtasia, Cleavage, Tits, Masturbation, Tru Blood, O-Negative, Spontaneous Combustion, Aids Burger, Glamour, Fangbanger, Blood Fountain, Blood Fetish, Gore, Virtual Golf, Vampire Tribunal, Dean the Dog, Shapeshifter, Puke,

How I spent my summer vacation 

  • Bit of a strange film – starts off quirky crime but soon descends in to a sloppy, stereotype-ridden borderline tasteless / racist (That’s our Mel!) Latino Jail
  • Post-Prison-break S3 lawless prison scenario – fairly ridiculous.
  • Good action though

Score: 4/10

Community (Season 2)

  • KFC Space Rescue, zombies are among a few truly standout episodes – writing isn’t nearly as good as Season 1.
  • Feels clunkier and more sporadic / parody based – silly and ridiculous stories replacing observational college humour.
  • Stop-motion Christmas is absolutely terrible, but the D&D episode is absolutely fantastic.
  • Pierce & Chang become runaway cast members

Score: 6/10

TAGS: Toto Africa, Chloroform, level 5 laser lotus, Oil Wrestling, Chick Fight, KFC, Butt Flag, E pluribus anus, ABBA, Zombies, Trampoline, Pen Episode, Annie’s Bobs, Professor Professorson, diorama, cave of frozen memories, my dinner with andre, fat neil, pulp fiction party, Paintball, Chang puns.

Bourne Legacy

  • Very slow start,
  • Good action throughout although Greengrass imitation cam style was bamboozling to watch
  • Renner’s good, but doesn’t have much character or backstory to play with, and he’s only ever really looking to get his pills.
  • Basically a glorified drugs / heist movie

Score: 5/10

TAGS: Pharmaceuticals, Drone Strike, Drugs, Etching, Wood Release, 

World War Z:

  • There are things to loathe: Pepsi product placement, the fact that a male model is the main star, and yes – Piers Morgan even shows up (making the zombie apocalypse a bit more appealing).
  • Bottom line, this is a Zombie movie that’s targeted at the mainstream; leaving a lot of the essential zombie elements on the cutting room floor.
  • Follows a ‘diet zombie film’ formula
  • Not quite World War Zzzzzz

Score: 6/10

War Horse

  • Everyone from Devon looks/talks/acts like simpletons: a very American portrayal of rural England…
  • Acting in general is Sunday afternoon TV stuff, with a few good actors plopped in for some reason.
  • The humans are out-acted by horses in most scenes… Hiddleston is about the only decent performance.
  • First hour drags, second hour distracts, last 20 mins pulls at your heart.
  • Music’s as important as the acting to lead you through the film,
  • Random comedy goose
  • Lingers too long in parts,
  • Hammy, over-sentimental cheese.

Score: 5/10

TAGS: Was it amazing? Neeeiiiggghhhh

Anything For Her

  • Having seen the re-make first, there’s things I prefer about each film. The cast in the original come up trumps but I would argue that there’s far more tension in the final act (escape) in the re-make, as they rush through a series of pre-identified zones.
  • being set in France – in the EU – where free travel is permitted, kills all of the post-escape tension…

Score: 4/10

TransSiberian:

  • Bleak colour scheme
  • Woody is so unlikeable in this – American abroad.
  • Story starts off great but becomes too convenient and even after a decent twist the final act is absolutely ridiculous.
  • Strong cast: Acting’s solid – Kingsley is a half-believable Rusky, the Chick’s good too.

Score: 6/10

TAGS: Babushka Dolls, Heroin, Head…ouch, Headshot, Bad Policing, Lying, Photography, Everyone Smokes…, odka, Buttocks

Invictus

  • Freeman sounds like he’s doing a Kim Jong Il Team America impression, far too Asian.
  • Undecided: semi sports film, semi political film, semi biopic… never really knows what it is.
  • Sentimental cheese-fest: slow pans, slow zooms, slow fades, slow motion, light piano accompaniment.
  • Don’t know if it was unintentional but the story bounces along as unevenly as a football would, here, there, and everywhere.
  • No proper complication, or ‘against the odds’ as you expect from the sporty element.
  • Rose-tinted

Score: 4/10

TAGS: Johna Lumu, Olé, Sunglasses, Smile, Springbucks, Go Chester, Rugby World Cup.

Moon

  • Rockwell’s amazing,
  • Cracking concept, very well executed.
  • Kevin Spacey is a camp robot (like 2001)
  • First 30 minutes are a bit proper WTF but make far more sense the second time round.
  • Because of character and visual similarities this is always going to be compared to 2001, and while it owes much to the original, I feel that it far surpasses it.

Score: 7/10

TAGS: Tambourine, Blood!!!, Buttocks, Speedball, Plants, Ping Pong, Carvings, Camp robots, Space, Moon,

The Kingdom:

  • First 75% is a regular enough Army / Political procedural investigation, which makes the final 25% pure raw action movie feel quite welcome.
  • Graphic and no-holds barred look at terrorism

Score: 7.5/10


Todd Margaret (Season 2):

  • Totally offensive, but very funny
  • Not much more to say!

Score: 7/10

TAGS: Substantial Todd Margaret, Le Molecule, Ghost, Young and not Legal, Eyebrows, Pank, Poo and a Wank, Rugby, Leeds, Acute penis envy, reverse Othello, self help CD, fart ring tone, Princess Diana grave, Pedophile wing, Steve Davis,

The Road

  • Grim
  • Depressing
  • Nihilistic
  • Viggo’s on good form, and out of nowhere… BOOM – more of Viggo’s ass on screen, twice. I’ve seen this enough times in my life now, thanks
  • Bleak
  • Somber
  • Grave
  • Melancholy
  • Religious overtones,
  • very, very vague story, plot and backstory – pretty much just ‘survival’
  • Didn’t really see the point of the film…
  • Product placement extravaganza (not much else that could fund it though) Coca Cola, Heinz, Del Monte… ironically makes me sick
  • The savage, omnipresent bleakness dominates the film, to the point where I didn’t care for the characters, as there was almost no focus on them
  • Picture was decent, but very gray and washed out. Sound mix was booming.

Score: 3/10

TAGS: Buttocks, dirty water, Annoying Son, OMAR!!!, Arrows, Legshot!, Coughing, Coca Cola, Del Monte, Cannibalism, Self Surgery, Headshot!, Papa, Dirty, Need a wash.

Valley of Elah:

  • Definitely has more of a TV feel with it’s very slow/steady pace that never shifts up – and more generally an overall lack of any remote cinematic feeling.
  • Very much an actors film, with a lot of serious acting to be had – and everyone doing well to keep up with Tommy and Charlie
  • TLJ is on fire… I love this guy!
  • Another one of the modern anti ‘war film’, focused around the army, and the effect of was on troops back home.

Score: 6.5/10

TAGS: Tits, buttocks, pantyhose, Jim beam, photos, pickup truck, flags, chicken, body parts, blue car, Iraq.

The Prestige

  • Bad film to be cast a bird.
  • Michael Cain – can’t stand him in most movies; he’s the most one-dimensional character actor in history
  • Very poor timeline at the beginning that only becomes apparent towards the end (for first time viewers)
  • Great atmospheric score, long deep notes that resonate through entire scenes.
  • Slow, slow burner
  • Not unlike any of the tricks in the movie, the film follows the same formula. Pledge; two magicians trying to out do each other. Turn; you see their various ways of doing so. Prestige; the big reveal.
  • For all the film’s weaknesses the reveal at the end is outstanding.
  • BD presentation is great – the sound of Tesla’s machines bouncing ’round the speakers never gets old.

Score: 5.5/10

TAGS: Bird Fail, Lightbulb Field, Crazy Science, beards, electricity, fingers… ouch!

Lawless

  • Tried hard enough, but just wasn’t engaging or hooking in
  • Like cramming a full series of Boardwalk Empire into 1 movie.
  • Biggest flaw was having not enough Gary Oldman and least famous brother, and too much Shya Le Bowf / Tom Hardy (who is good, but has a ridiculous voice… again)

Score: 5.5/10

The Shield (Season 1)

  • Strike team.
  • Very interesting premise – following a corrupt cop and his equally questionable team.
  • Main character is a total choad – more of a villain that a hero, but is humanised through some forced heroics and personal stories. By the end, Vic walks such a fine line between supercop and super-criminal that you have to make your own mind up.
  • Lots of macho “stay out of my way” / “I get results” generic 80s cop-chat.
  • Terrible music – bad nu-metal tracks with laughably literal lyrics.
  • Doesn’t beat around the bush with crime scenes: sex club, motherhood, police ambushes,
  • Stories started in first few episodes picked up at the end of season.
  • Cops Vs Cops. Cops Vs bad guys. Cops vs the public
  • Stylish, kinetic, aggressive.

Score: 7.5/10

TAGS: Hit and run, shit drawer, spunk, gay cop, delicious feet, strippers, hookers, hoe shoe, blanket party, the nation, cockfights, cop killers.

The Quiet Family:

  • Gallows / graveyard humour
  • Showed some promise, but felt quite stagey and under-developed
  • Disappointing giving director

Score: 5/10

TAGS: Misty Lodge, Shovel, Humping, Phone Sex, Upskirt, Cukoo Clock, The Stray Cats,

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Since I started this site I’ve been bleating on about how much I believe that Korea is one of the strongest film industries in the world regarding the actors, directors and the canon of associated staff that it takes to produce world-class, top-notch films. It looks like Hollywood is finally catching up, recognising this talent, inviting the cream of the crop over to tinsel town. Here’s a list of my favourites that have made the jump, so far…

Park Chan Wook Films Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK, Thirst, StokerDirector – Park-Chan Wook (박찬욱): easily Korea’s most famous cinematic export, and firmly established as one of the world’s greatest directors with over a decade’s worth of acclaimed movies, including; Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK, and Thirst. His trademark style? Meticulous direction, spellbinding visuals, powerful storytelling, and often violent & disturbing subject matter. When Hollywood came a-knockin’ he managed to get Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver, and Tony & Ridley Scott involved in his first English-language movie – Stoker, which was well-received.

Lee Byung HunActor – Lee Byung-hun (이병헌;): top of the K-actor pack in my books. He’s starred in some of the biggest and best Korean movies of all time: JSA: Joint Security Area, A Bittersweet Life, The Good The Bad The Weird, and I Saw The Devil. Has recently brought his Asian clout to Hollywood as ‘Storm Shadow’ in the past 2 GI Joe movies, and will appear in RED 2 this summer. He can do everything from rom-coms, to flawed heroes, to villains, and his 20-year career’s been so strong that he has his own Wiki page just for awards and nominations.

Kim Jee Woon - Tale of Two Sisters, Bittersweet Life, The Good The Bad The Weird, I Saw The Devil, The Last Stand

Director – Kim Ji-Woon (김지운): another director running with a hot streak of impressive movies: A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, The Good The Bad The Weird, and I Saw The Devil. For his debut American production he managed to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger (and coax arguably one of his best performances after a long line of duffers), Forrest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Peter Stromare, and the prolific Luiz Guzman. While it was not on the same level as his national works, The Last Stand far outshone Sylvester Stallone’s attempt at a similar genre movie – Bullet to the Head.

Bae DoonaActress – Bae Doona (배두나): Breaking out internationally in Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, and later The Host & Air Doll, Bae was picked up by the Wachowski brothers for Cloud Atlas, for which she was unanimously praised, sealing her a place in their next film, Jupiter Ascending.

RainActor – Rain (Jung Ji-Hoon, ): broke through with I’m A Cyborg, but That’s OK – and immediately jumped over to star in both Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin. Hasn’t done much since, but that’s OK too, because he’s also a singer, songwriter, dancer and model.

Bong Joon-ho Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother, SnowpiercerDirector – Bong Joon-ho (봉준호): despite having less films than the previous two directors, they still pack a punch: Memories of Murder, The Host, and Mother, all being successful exports. Bong’s next film is the much-anticipated sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, and…

Song Kang-ho.. Actor – Song Kangho (송강호): One of the most watchable and charismatic actors in Korea today, he has a magnetism that can only be described as ‘star power’ and a range that most actors can only dream of. Appearing in many of Koreas biggest movies: Shiri, The Quiet Family, JSA Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Good The Bad The Weird, and Thirst – I’m excited to see that Bong Joon-ho has pulled him across the Pacific.

As you can tell, it’s quite a tight and incestuous list, as the great combinations of elite directors and actors stick together, to create world-class film after world-class film.

But have they been good Korea moves for those involved? (Sorry, had to put that in) You could argue that something is being lost in translation, as the two released directorial efforts, although strong, aren’t on the same level as their previous works, and the actors, despite being in some big roles, are usually word-shy, or over-dubbed in post-production. To that, I would say… so what? Let’s throw Nolan, Scorsese, Bale, Fassbender and Streep into South Korea and make them do a Korean film, speaking Korean, and see how that sits with a completely different culture!

South Korea Flag

Remember this flag, as it may – someday – replace The Hollywood Sign!

Although it’s quite a recent trend, and a fairly short list in the grand scheme of things, I hope that this cross-pollination of talent  continues, and shines a bright light on everyone’s previous – overlooked – work in K-Cinema.

Note: there’s a load of Korean Born / Korean Descendent actors that have spent the majority of their life working and acting in America like Rick Yune, Ken Jeong, Sandra Oh, C.S. Lee, John Cho, Sung Kang, Daniel Dae Kim and so on… but to include them would be cheating.