Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

springSteeped in Buddhist philosophy and set against the backdrop of a remote Korean lake, Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring focuses on the relationship between an elderly monk and his young protégé.

The film is set out in a series of five vignettes which correspond to the titular seasons. In the first, Spring, the child protégé is taught a lesson about respect. In a spirit of boyish experimentation, he ties stones around the bodies of a fish, a frog and a snake, as his master silently looks on. That night the older monk ties a heavy rock to the boy as he is sleeping, which won’t be taken off until he frees the animals. There is a comic element to this very fitting punishment, but it also places a heavy burden of responsibility on the young boy’s shoulders: if any of the animals have died as a result of their entrapment, the old man warns, “you will carry this stone in your heart for the rest of your life.”

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Juno

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

junoJason Reitman’s Juno must be the best comedy of 2007. Dealing with the messy issue of teenage pregnancy, the film is touching, witty and insightful, without slipping into mawkishness or didacticism. Ellen Page positively shines in her role as the plucky and kind-hearted Juno, whilst professional stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody fashions a potentially turgid storyline into a brightly articulate comedy.

Ellen Page plays Juno McGuff, a 16 year old high school student who decides that it’s time she experienced sex, and enlists her less than eager best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) to help. The inevitable happens and Juno initially opts for a quick abortion, until she takes a trip to the drab, industrial estate clinic and gets cold feet. Juno thinks she is too young to raise the child herself, and, following the suggestion of her cheerleading friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), sets about finding a pair of adoptive parents through adverts placed in the local free newspaper.

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Days of Being Wild (A Fei Jing Juen)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

days-of-being-wildReleased in 1990, Wong Kar-Wai’s Days of Being Wild won numerous awards in Asia and established the Hong Kong film maker as a world player, despite dissapointing box office ratings when it initially came to cinemas. It is also the first film in which the director collaborated with longtime cinematographer Christopher Doyle, whose use of light and shadow, contrasted with a vibrant colour palette, have become the pair’s trademark.

The camera opens on Yuddy, an arrogant, drifting playboy. He is out to woo the shy and apprehensive Su Li Zhen who works nights at the local stadium. Yuddy is relentless, and warns Li Zhen that the moment she gives into his advances – 3pm on June 16th, 1960, to be precise – will be forever graven on her mind. It is a scene of intense, intoxicating romance, which exemplifies the masterful use of intimate shots, heightened sounds and interplay of light and shadow which made Wong his name. The humidity is palpable as the lovers’ sweaty faces glow n the half-light, consumed with a deadly passion that deceives as it overwhelms.

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Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

angusBased on Louise Rennison’s popular series of teen novels, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is a Bridget Jones-style coming-of-age comedy which follows a group of 14-year-olds as they attempt to escape the shackles of their snooping parents and move into the more exciting world of boys, bras and parties. Viewers who’ve endured teen gross-out comedies such as American Pie will find this Brit-flick from Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) refreshingly gentle. There’s no swearing and no mention of drugs, no-one has sex and there are no unwanted pregnancies.

Set in the seaside town of Eastbourne, the story centres around Georgia Nicholson (Georgia Groome) and her circle of giggly, gawkish friends. Her chief aims in life are to secure a fit boyfriend and persuade her parents to throw her the best 15th birthday bash EVER at the local nightclub. Her biggest gripes are her embarrassing, old fashioned parents (Alan Davies and Karen Taylor) and her freakish little sister Libby (Eva Drew), who thinks she’s a cat. When two “sex-gods” called Robbie (Aaron Johnson) and Tom (Sean Bourke) join their school, Georgia and her best friend Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) are determined to bag them for themselves. Trouble is, the slutty and popular Lindsay (Kimberley Nixon), who wears a padded bra and unbuttons her shirt as low as school uniform rules will allow, has got there first.

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The Children of Huang Shi

Monday, June 1st, 2009

children-of-huang-shiThe Children of Huang Shi recounts the true story of a British journalist’s rescue of dozens of Chinese orphans in the face of the advancing Japanese.

The British reporter George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Myers) has been sent to China to report on the 1930s war involving the Japanese invaders and the Nationalist and Communist Chinese. Reckless and inexperienced, he takes hundreds of covert photos of the atrocities for newspapers back home, including a massacre of Chinese civilians. However, the Japanese soon twig that he is not the aid worker he said he was and capture him, along with all of his photos.

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House of Flying Daggers (shí miàn mái fú)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

houseofflyingdaggersZhang Ziyi, Tony Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro star in this epic tale of duty and passion from Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Hero, Red Sorghum). When translated into English, the film’s Mandarin title (Shi Mian Mai Fu) literally means ‘Ambushed from Ten Directions’. It’s the perfect description of this martial arts love story, whose main trio is both supported and attacked by numerous warring factions.

The year is 859 AD and the great Tang dynasty is waning. Numerous rebel groups are gaining strength, including the infamous House of Flying Daggers. Though the group’s old leader was captured and killed, a new one has risen in his place, his identity unknown. Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau), two police chiefs, have been ordered to kill the mysterious leader within ten days.

Their first port of call is a teahouse, home of the blind dancer Mei (Zhang) who is thought to be the dead leader’s daughter. (more…)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

40-year-old-virginSex has become such an idol in modern times, and especially in Hollywood, it’s difficult to understand how a middle-aged man could have spent his life avoiding it. In one of his funniest movies to date, Judd Apatow, creator of such off-beat gems as Anchorman, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express, presents us with just such a creature.

Meet Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell, who also co-wrote), the titular ante-hero who has spent years of bachelordom collecting action hero figurines and making egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Working in the stockroom of an electronics store by day and watching Survivor with his elderly neighbours by night (“I’ll bring the soda!”), Andy seems unlikely to ever woo a woman to bed – until three of his fellow workers stumble upon his secret.

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Eden

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

charlotte-rocheToying with ideas of prejudice, loneliness and redemption, Eden tells the story of a reclusive chef whose greatest pleasure is creating dishes that arouse people to dizzying heights of pleasure.

Eden opens with a grotesque scene of a fat chef, Gregor (Josef Ostendorf), skinning a furry animal with sensual relish before chucking large chunks of meat into a pan. We next meet him in a local café, engaged in the second of his two hobbies: ogling the local waitresses. Strolling in the park after his habitual espresso, our friend rescues a disabled girl from drowning in the fountain and returns her to her mother, Eden (Charlotte Roche), who is none other than the waitress who served him. (more…)

The Accidental Husband

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

accidental-husbandThere’s so much wrong with The Accidental Husband you hardly know where to start. The jokes fall painfully flat, there’s almost zero chemistry between the characters, and the initial premise – that you can get someone else hitched with just a few clicks of a mouse – is so far-fetched, it’s a struggle to give your attention to its numerous ramifications.

Uma Thurman, who also produced, plays Emma, a self-titled ‘love doctor’ who has made a career for herself trying to sort out other people’s relationship woes, but despite a hit radio show and bestselling book on the subject, she has a few problems keeping her own love-life in check. She is engaged to Richard (Colin Firth), her well-off and eminently sensible fiancé, but things come a cropper when discovers that she is already listed as legally married when she goes to register at the City Hall.

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Definitely Maybe

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

definitely_maybe“I’m gonna tell you the story and I’m not telling you who your mum is, you have to figure that out for yourself. I’m gonna change all of the names and some of the facts…”

This is the way that advertising manager Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) introduces his confused premarital history to his precocious ten-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine), who has come home after a school class on the birds and the bees. And whilst Hayes presents his philanderings in the sweetest way possible, this is definitely no children’s fairy tale. As Maya puts it, “it’s like a love-story-mystery!”, and the poor girl is stuck in the middle, wondering whether she is nothing more than the result of a drunken party.

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