Tuesday, July 16, 2013

BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

SM Cinemas



Naturally, we all wondered if Jesse (Ethan Hawke) stayed on in Celine's apartment (Julie Delpy) and missed his flight in "Before Sunset".   9 years later, Richard Linklater shows us that they did end up together but it isn't quite like in fairy tales where everyone is cheerful and content.  But that's real life, right?

They are married, have twins (daughters) and are vacationing in a gorgeous Greek island. Jesse is still a best selling author while Celine ever the advocate is at a crossroads as she contemplates taking a government job.   Renting a villa with 3 other couples of varying age, their discussions are interesting and insightful as dialogue is wont to be among friends.

Bearing signs of maturity both in their physical appearance as well as in their married life, Jesse and Celine are still the same couple we all grew quite fond of.  They have to deal with what I call grown up problems like trying to get custody of Jesse's son from his previous marriage, big career moves also the prospect of relocating to another country.  

Celine has turned into a nagger by hounding Jesse with thought provoking questions. Some of her 'what if' questions were in my opinion quite difficult to contemplate let alone validate with a concrete answer.  While Jesse is confused about the future of his son, he does his best to accommodate most if not all of Celine's insecurities which suddenly all rise to the surface during their supposedly idyllic summer vacation.

If I ever brought up those types of questions to my hubby of 5 years, I'm sure he would think I went insane and would probably retort with one of his jokes just to shut me up and snap me back into reality.  But that's just how we roll, so to speak.

But Linklater's characters in this trilogy have always been the dialogue driven type of couple.  So while we tend to nod in agreement with some of the points raised, we also just shake our heads at the other for want of a better word 'preposterous' arguments discussed.  

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke still have the same chemistry as evident in the two previous films.  They look so comfortable together. It seems as if they weren't acting and speaking from a scripted plot but conversing normally.

I reckon it is time we let them be and stop intruding on Jesse and Celine's marriage and their life, in general.   Of course, it goes without saying that if and when Richard Linklater decides to come up with a fourth film, I won't miss it.   But for now, I firmly believe "Before Midnight" nicely wraps up their romance.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

KOKUHAKU
(CONFESSIONS)


Eiga Sai 2013
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex


Compared to the light family drama I saw yesterday, this film is a psychological thriller that sent chills down my spine. The opening scene is in a noisy classroom on the last day before spring break.  A female teacher is talking about the value of life until she begins to recount her grief and sorrow over the accidental death of her four year old daughter.  

Then she tells the class that it wasn't an accident and she knows for sure that two of her students 'murdered' her child.   She refuses to identify the two culprits and simply labels them as "A" and "B".   The mood in the boisterous classroom immediately changes in more ways than one as the focus shifts on the two murderers.

The rest of the film spirals into a chaotic yet well conceived sequences of "confessions" from all the concerned characters in the gruesome accident. Filmed in dark tones of grey and bleak cinematography, the plot moves easily with equal amounts of  fast paced scenes along with slow motion and reflective moments which tug at your heartstrings.    

The main draw is how compelling each side of the story unfolds. All sorts of emotions seem to nudge your brain cells. The streaks of brutal and violent flashbacks shocks you to the core then it turns to poignant 'behind the scenes' explanations into the motives of the students who resorted to these evil acts of violence.

It was quite disturbing to absorb this dark, psychological thriller which touched on currently relevant issues like bullying, suicide, discrimination, conflicts in schools between teachers and students. It also widely tackled vengeance and ultimately redemption.   

Yet at the same time, I've never seen such a honest portrayal of a revenge story and it fascinated me to no end.  It still haunts me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

OTOTO
(ABOUT HER BROTHER)


Eiga Sai 2013
Shang Cineplex Cinema 2


"Blood is thicker than water" is the main theme of this family drama.  Ginko is a widowed pharmacist and her daughter Koharu is getting married to a wealthy doctor.  At the wedding ceremony, Tetsuro who is Ginko's good for nothing brother (the black sheep of the family) shows up drunk and causes quite a ruckus.   In a society where family honor is highly valued, losing face is a great source of disgrace to any family.   Tetsuro is rightfully disowned and 'banished' even though he feels he had a right to be there since he was the one who gave his niece the name Koharu which means Spring Wind.

"Ototo" is directed by Yoji Yamada, the famous director of the Tora-San series of movies. His films are normally about the modern middle class Japanese families. In this film, Yamada explores the strained relationship between the two siblings and its effects on their family. 

Set in a tiny Tokyo suburb as well as some scenes in Osaka, "Ototo" has all the right elements of a typical "telenovela".  Some light comedy with loads of melodramatic moments which eventually turned into a sappy tearjerker but filmed with such quiet restraint.

Yamada directs a solid plot which deals with social issues like the plight of the outcast, the stigma attached to being divorced and the health care of the abandoned. The well developed roles are delivered by a good cast whose emotional quotient is highly evident through their facial expressions.
 

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