Author: Jason Ooi

New on Amazon Prime Streaming: The Handmaiden Is Erotic and Gorgeous

Originally published on May 15, 2016. The Handmaiden is now available on Amazon Prime instant streaming. Overview: A con man hires a pickpocket to help him, but things go awry when unexpected love develops. CJ Entertainment; 2016; 145 Minutes. The Web: Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden builds a web of deception and manipulation, a story in which the roles of puppeteers and puppets are indistinguishable. The film tangles the relationships between three primary people. Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) is a wealthy Japanese heiress promised to her predatory uncle.  Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-ri) is a young thief disguised as Lady Hideko’s eponymous servant. And con...

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Anthropoid Is An Uneven Slowburn

Overview: A telling of the titular operation, in which Czechoslovakian rebels planned the assassination of the third highest ranking SS Officer. Bleecker Street; 2016; Rated R; 120 minutes. A True Story: The word “anthropoid” signifies a physical resemblance to human-kind. It is appropriate to define the characters of the film as such. One would, however, be perplexed to imagine any other adjectives for the paper-thin characters at the core of the film who seem to exist only to complete the next objective. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik – heroes of both Anthropoid and the war – are both brave men...

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Criterion Discovery: A Touch of Zen

Background  A Touch of Zen (Spine #825) is one of the pinnacles of Chinese cinema from none other than director King Hu. It is his only film in the collection, though more are expected to arrive soon enough. Film historian David Bordwell, in the essay attached to the release credits the film with bringing “Chinese martial arts cinema to a western audience.” Story If you’re jonesing for an epic, look no further than Criterion’s latest batch of releases; visionary Taiwanese director King Hu’s A Touch of Zen has finally received a transfer worthy of the film’s high stature within filmic culture....

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The Childhood of a Leader Offers a Promising Directorial Debut

Overview: An American child grows up in post-war France. IFC; 2016; Not Rated; 113 minutes. Running Before Walking: Brady Corbet, who is particularly well known for his work with other extremely controversial but still well-regarded auteurs (Lars Von Trier, Michael Haneke, Antonio Campos), now in the director’s chair himself has crafted a work full and worthy of their various influences. Yet Corbet directs The Childhood of a Leader with such striking ambition and confidence that this debut itself carries with it an inherent air of fascination. The film is a singular piece of work. Comparisons to Haneke’s The White Ribbon exist...

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Lights Out Reignites Our Fear of the Dark

Overview: A mother’s mental state conjures up a violent entity which only exists in the dark, and her two children struggle to overcome it. Warner Bros.; 2016; Rated R; 81 minutes. On: David Sandberg’s Lights Out, based on the 2013 viral short of the same name, is quite an ingenious horror film. It manipulates an inevitable and primordial childhood phobia which, while it does disappear with age, still manages to be inescapable. By mirroring childhood with Gabriel Bateman’s ten-year-old Martin and contrasting it with the presentness of Teresa Palmer’s Rebecca, Sandberg invokes youth and adulthood and unites them both...

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