High and Low
Dates and Venue 8 August 8:15pm, 9 August 8:15pm, 12 August 6:30pm | The Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street
Reviewer Ed Farolan
This 1963 film by renowned director Akira Kurosawa and starring veteran actor Toshiro Mifune is a somewhat Japanese version of a detective film noir. The story starts off with a struggle of our hero to gain control of his company, but then becomes a victim of extortion when he learns that a young boy, his son's playmate, has been kidnapped. A Hitchcock-like psycho-thriller with suspense slowly building up and exploding into a frenetic police drama, I found this film as one of Kurosawa's more impressive works. The last scene when the kidnapper confronts Mifune was spellbinding and reminded me of the last scene of Hitchcock's Psycho.
Dates and Venue 8 August 6.30pm, 9 August 6.30pm, 10 August 4.30pm, 11 August 4.30pm, 12 August 9.10 pm | The Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street
Reviewer Ed Farolan
This 2012 Philippine film directed by Ron Morales reflects the social issues happening in Manila. The film deals with issues like child prostitution, illegal human organ sales, and corrupt politicians. Family man Marlon, a longtime chauffeur to a Filipino congressman who is a pedophile, is ambushed while driving both his boss's and his own daughter home from school. When the wrong girl is taken, Marlon's life takes a sudden, terrifying turn, and he must navigate his way between ruthless kidnappers, his unscrupulous boss, and a brutal police detective who considers Marlon a prime suspect. A sub-plot to the story is his critically ill wife who needs an organ transplant, and as the story unravels, we begin to see how Marlon is involved in the kidnapping. I found this an interesting film, and the technical aspects, such as the close-up shots and the editing, were well-done.
Date and Venue 15 May @ 7.30pm | The Cinematheque
Reviewer Karen Fitzgibbon
This poignant critically acclaimed film brings powerful awareness of the trials and tribulations of musician Bob Forrest in his upward climb to fight his drug addiction. The story takes us through Forrest’s bizarre behavior on stage and embarrassing moments like forgetting the words for the national anthem. Eventually he ends his addiction and finds sense of purpose by helping others with their addictions.
The theatre was filled with professionals and students in various fields of medicine. Every person in the medical field that deals with addictions should see this excellent documentary. The film is educational, well directed and I was profoundly impacted by it. The blatant truth of how drug addictions are dealt with by many in our medical community is deplorable. Doctors administer more drugs or hand out more drug prescriptions to handle drug addiction. What kind of logic is that? Sounds as though drug companies are making a great deal of profit by further destroying lives. Our society is sending these poor people into a merry-go-round of drugs instead of stopping them altogether.
Bob Forrest lead singer and songwriter for the 1980s punk rock band Thelonious Monster shares his desperate life story of fame and heroin drug addiction then homelessness. Forrest thanks the LA Police for throwing him into a county jail long enough for him to get off drugs. Appalled at clinics that feed addicts with more drugs to deal with their drug addiction, Bob opens his own drug addiction counseling office called the Hollywood Recovery Service. He wants other punk rock addicts to completely getting off ALL drugs including Pharmaceutical.Interviewed for the film are members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hole, Guns N’Roses and Fishbone. My hat goes off to Bob Forrest and his amazing drive to heal addiction.
Date and Venue 17-20 May | The Cinematheque
Reviewer Ed Farolan
This Korean filmmaker must have been influenced by Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) and all of his other films that followed. Ironically, Tarantino is now the utmost admirer of his cult follower, and even wanted him to win The Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Fest. However, Park ended up winning the second prize, the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for the film Oldboy. A journalist asked, "In your film, why is the vengeance repeating?". According to Park, he decided to make three consecutive films with revenge as the central theme. Park said his films are about "the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved."
This seems to be a wishy-washy answer, almost moralistic, an obvious truism. In fact, in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), it's as though the moral is everyone gets killed because of vengeance. I find this quite vapid. Oldboy (2003) is quite confusing. It's not cleart who Mido is. Is she the daughter from the incestuous relationship? The scenes and flashbacks come in and out and there is no logic. In Tarantino's films, however, we see logic and we understand the plot.
In the case of the last of the trilogy, Lady Vengeance (2005), this was much better and I liked the black humour when all the parents of the dead children killed by the teacher draw lots on who kills him first. But still, it has the elements of a cook who puts too many spices in his cooking. There are so many sub-plots and sub-themes and all these distract the audience from the main plot. For example, who are all these prison women with her and how are they connected to her story? And even if they are slightly connected, it complicates the plot and makes the story more convoluted. I think this filmmaker needs to edit it more or get a good editor so his films can be more logical and understandable.
Dates and Venue 29 Apr-3 May 2013 | The Cinematheque
Reviewer Ed Farolan
I find it hard to believe that this film won a Palme d’Or award in 2010. Is the filmmaker trying to send a message about the future of Thailand under Martial Law? What does this have to do with past lives? It's a scatterbrain movie. No focus at all. And the scenes drag on and on. Doesn't he know how to edit? It's supposed to be about reincarnation, but he's so vague about it. In one scene, we see a catfish making love to an ugly princess. Is he the princess or the talking catfish? And then, before he dies, he talks about being born in a cave where monkey ghosts live. Then there's a scene where his son marries a monkey ghost and becomes one himself. Come on, now. What are you trying to say? Are you purposely confusing us? Well, for me this is a zero out of ten film, and how the jury in Cannes voted it the best film is beyond my comprehension.
© 2013 Ed Farolan and Karen Fitzgibbon