Tearing through movies like there's no tomorrow.
Stations of the Cross 2014
Technically excellent (yet resolutely unshowy), featuring super-long takes bolstered by fine performances. And it’s so deadly serious that it could almost be viewed as a comedy. The mother is a fascinating character, but since she’s entirely didactic and keeps herself emotionally distant, it’s nigh on impossible to feel any sympathy for her.
Dust of Angels 1992
No country for young men
A tale which incrementally doubles down on the lack of options facing male juveniles in certain environments. In this case, with hoodlums as role models and a police force riddled with corruption, who is there to lead them out of a dead-end life of guns and gang warfare?
Even though the film is beautifully shot, there’s nothing glamourous about any of it, and the pervading sense of threat and low-level ennui is attenuated only fleetingly by a moment of genuine, authentic humour. (And throughout, I couldn’t help but think of Made in Hong Kong, though this came first.)
Joint Security Area 2000
Even the conspicuous dubbing of Lee Young-ae’s English dialogue (and the stilted performances of two European actors) can’t dampen the power of this deeply humanistic story about a geographical, political, ideological and cultural nexus point, where North and South Korea meet. And at the heart of this particular zone are people, not monoliths, a point which Park Chan-wook, elegantly sums up with a single photograph – a picture that is genuinely worth a thousand words.
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice 1952
Sympathy for Mr Bonehead
In which Taeko (Michiyo Kogure) both scandalises and amuses a couple of her female friends and niece regarding her husband, whom she refers to as “Mr Bonehead” and compares to a dim-witted carp. And it has to be said, it’s pretty funny stuff. But then we get to spend some time with ‘Mr Bonehead’ – or Mokichi (Shin Saburi), to give him his actual name – and we realise that he’s a decent chap. It’s just…