Friday, January 20, 2017

Film Review: Sea Fog (2014)

Sea Fog (aka Haemoo) (Review)
South Korea/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It works as a drama, romance, and thriller – a great combo."

Struggling to make ends meet, a fishing-boat crew takes on a job of smuggling immigrants from China to South Korea...

Sea Fog is a great movie. The plot follows Captain Cheol-joo (Kim Yoon-seok) and his crew, which includes rookie Dong-sik (Park Yoo-chun). Cheol-joo is struggling to make ends meet and he refuses to sell his boat. So, he takes a high-paying and dangerous job smuggling people from China to South Korea. All is well at first. Dong-sik even finds love with young immigrant Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri). However, tragedy quickly hits the boat and the crew is forced to tie up loose ends – except Dong-sik, who refuses to quit on Hong-mae. I'd say more, but this is a film where the less you know, the better it is. It even surprised me at times. It leads to an interesting ending. It has me thinking about the entire situation, but I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Film Review: The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's a boring, generic, and forgettable survival horror film."

Near the shore of a secret beach, surfer Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) is attacked by a great white shark and forced to fight for survival.

The Shallows is a ridiculously shallow film – clever, right? The first 20 or so minutes of this film showcase Nancy's vacation videos. Really, all she does is surf in slow-motion for twenty damn minutes. Sure, we're introduced Ashley's character, but she's very generic so it doesn't really matter. Eventually, she's attacked by a shark. She survives the attack with a severely mangled leg and ends up on a rock. Then, she... Well, she survives. That's all there is to this contrived plot. She screams for help, she swims a little, she fights back, and she survives – and she often does all of this in glorious slow-motion. It all leads to a very predictable, underwhelming, and cheesy ending.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Film Review: The Sea of Trees (2015)

The Sea of Trees (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an emotional, poignant, and beautiful film."

A suicidal American attempts to help a lost Japanese man in Aokigahara, a forest known for attracting suicide...

The Sea of Trees is a simple but effective drama. On one hand, the plot's simplicity allows the characters to grow. On the other hand, the simplicity also means the film is predictable and safe – it really doesn't take many chances. The film follows Arthur (Matthew McConaughey), an American who travels to Aokigahara to commit suicide. While in the process of killing himself, he bumps into Takumi Nakamura (Ken Watanabe), a suicidal man whose wrists are already slit. Arthur is able to help Takumi, but the pair soon find they are lost. While the couple try to escape the forest, the film goes back and shows Arthur's complicated relationship with his wife, Joan (Naomi Watts). It frequently hops back-and-forth between past and present, but it's never confusing. It moves to a predictable but moving ending. I liked it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Film Review: Hope (2013)

Hope (also known as Wish) (Review)
South Korea/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best films I've seen in years..."

After 8-year-old Im So-won (Lee Re) survives a devastating sexual assault, her family attempts to help her heal while confronting their own sorrow...

Hope is a devastating drama about a family, a brutal sexual assault, and a broken criminal justice system. The film follows the Im family: Dong-hoon (Sol Kyung-gu), a hardworking father who inadvertently neglects his family, Mi-hee (Uhm Ji-won), the hardworking mother trying to keep everything afloat, and So-won, a spunky young girl who is ready to tackle the world. One morning, So-won is violently raped by a disgusting man. Her internal injuries cause her to undergo significant surgeries that will affect her for the rest of her life; her emotional injuries will also scar her, taking time to heal. So, Dong-hoon and Mi-hee do everything in their power to help their daughter. I won't spoil anything else about the plot. I think you get the gist. It's focused on developing its characters and relationships while always pushing the plot forward. It leads to a devastating ending that shines through its glimmer of hope.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Film Review: Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Alice, Sweet Alice (Review)
United States/1976
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"The focus on character, atmosphere, and mystery made the film much more effective than the average slasher."

When a young girl is murdered before her first communion, Alice (Paula Sheppard), her older sister, becomes the main suspect...

Alice, Sweet Alice is a surprising slasher horror film. This is a film that works better if you know less about it, so I'll keep my description as short as possible. The film follows Alice and her family: her sister, Karen, her mother, Catherine (Linda Miller), and her estranged father, Dominick. When Karen is murdered before her first communion, all of the evidence leads to Alice, a young girl with some violent outbursts. The police and the church work hand-in-hand in trying to solve the mystery while Catherine and Dominick try to save their daughter. But, is she the sweet, misunderstood girl they think she is? It all leads to a surprising climax and a solid ending. There are some things that occur during the second half of the film that lessens the effect of the movie, but it still rebounds at the end.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Film Review: Tales of Halloween (2015)

Tales of Halloween (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...it really isn't effective in the horror or comedy departments."

Ten stories of murderers, ghouls, aliens, and other creatures who terrorize the citizens of a suburban neighborhood on Halloween...

Tales of Halloween is an horror-comedy anthology. This anthology features ten stories, so I won't go into details about all of them. I'm not writing a thousand-word review for this one. Anyway, the film brings you to this suburban community where everyone has orgasms when they eat candy and everyone watches black-and-white public domain movies on Halloween. Residents are terrorizes by urban legends, like Sweet Tooth, and creatures, including aliens. The stories are filled with over-the-top gore. Some have strong horror premises, most are downright silly. They're all short, though, so you won't have to watch anything you dislike for long – unless you dislike all of the stories. I enjoyed at least four of the stories; the rest were, unfortunately, forgettable.