Archive for the ‘TITLE D’ Category



HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Pang Ho-Cheung Written by: Pang Ho-Cheung, Kwok Cheung Tsang, Wan Chi-Man Produced by: Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Subi Liang, Pang Ho-Cheung  Cinematography by: Nelson Yu Lik-Wai  Editing by: Wenders Li  Music by: Gabriele Roberto  Cast: Josie Ho, Anthony Wong, Michelle Ye, Norman Chu, Lawrence Chou, Eason Chan, Kwok Cheung Tsang, Hee Ching Paw, Hoi-Pang Lo, Ching Wong, Ying Kwan Lok, Juno Mak, Lap-Man Sin, Wai Hung Chan, Chu-Chu Zhou, Juan Song

In order to afford her dream home a woman, Cheng Li-Sheung, goes to great lengths, applying very drastic measures to make her dying father happy with a sea view apartment: once she has identified the property of choice, she begins to kill her neighbors one by one so that the value drops dramatically, bringing the price down into a range she can afford. But despite her will to inflict utmost brutality on her victims, she also seems to be just an ordinary girl pursuing a dream – and inevitably heading for trouble the longer she plays this vicious game.

DREAM HOME boasts a very fine and complex script that provides plenty of reasons for the main character to act the way she does: we learn a lot about her through her childhood memories, especially how the difficult relationship with her father has formed her personality, as well as it explains her dependency on her dad’s affection and motivation behind the need to buy that apartment. Her mother’s and brother’s roles are equally important, laying out a precise, psychological and believable cause-and-result pattern – DREAM HOME isn’t absurd, but an intense study of an unstable personality spiraling out of control.

Cheng Li-Sheung’s dull, monotone and difficult working life adds another interesting component, turning her into someone who is used to rejection, used to the harsh reality out there that is best dealt with in raw fashion. Ultimately, Cheng separates her gentle and fragile side from the side that shows no mercy, no morals and no guilt, and she develops into a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of character who puts her dream above anything else, even human life, in a delusion that fulfilling that dream could lead to salvation and a redefined relationship with her father.

It has been noted that DREAM HOME lacks coherence, but after studying the history of serial killers in-depth you will realize that schizophrenia doesn’t need a reason. People have been killed under far more random circumstances, so Cheng Li-Sheung’s motivation seems fairly reasonable after all. But you will have to understand that she is in fact not a girl next door anymore when the film starts, but that at this point she has crossed the line and changed into a deviant psychopath. She is leading a double life, and her measures are completely out of proportion – there is no turning back for her, she has lost it completely. There is only black and white, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that she is a sadistic killer, as she derives no pleasure from the violence, but sees it as a necessary means to an end. She is committing horrible crimes, but always looks beyond the here and now, hence never actually feels anything about what happens.

There are many other ways looking at DREAM HOME besides watching it as a slasher: the movie first and foremost is a very black comedy, a sarcastic comment on Hong Kong’s money-driven culture and inflated real estate market, and an essay on what values in life really matter. Mr. Pang is taking things to the edge, so that the most violent moments border on the hilarious, but never turn into slapstick: the line between laughter and shock maybe thin, but it’s always there. DREAM HOME remains a gut-wrenching flick at all times, and is probably one of the most violent movies of the year, yet it is also one of the most intelligent films of the year, telling a story that is painfully real and intense like few other films that were released in 2010.

The ending is, quite as expected, less coincidental but most of all consequential, a reductio ad absurdum, leaving Cheng and the audience speechless in view of what just happened. It’s the to-the-point conclusion of a great, condensed film that deserves to be praised – it’s a truly accomplished work.

With DREAM HOME Mr. Pang proves once again to be one of Hong Kong’s most versatile filmmakers and a brilliant observer who likes to dismantle reality and bring its essence to the screen, concerned most of all with what moves the ordinary citizen amid an ever-changing world. I recommend watching his previous film LOVE IN A PUFF back to back with DREAM HOME, and you will come to the conclusion that Mr. Pang’s films are wonderful, contemporary works from Hong Kong that shouldn’t be missed.

Whatever’s next, I bet on Mr. Pang to excite the audience with another surprising, and surprisingly good, film. I’d kill to see it today.








JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Yohei Fukuda  Written by: Mari Asato, Yoichi Minamikawa  Novel: Yusuke Yamada  Cast: Shochi Matsuda, Wataru Kaoru, Ishino Atsushi, Tsukamoto Sanae, Namikawa Hajime, Ashihara Kensuke, Hoshina Yohei, Motono Takuya, Shibuki Misa, Oomori Ryochi, Yoshida Masaki

A site broadcasting real people dying for real is a tempting, if expected premise for a 21st century horror flick. It’s only a matter of time until popular culture absorbs reality 2.0, so after Facebook also YouTube gets its fair share of screen time. A young guy stumbles upon the Death Tube website and soon we find ourselves following eight people in eight rooms, each of them facing challenging games. If they accomplish the task, they live, if they fail, they die. The question will not only be who’s the last man standing, but also who is behind the bizarre events unfolding in front of the world’s online audience.

Yohei Fukuda (ONE CHANBARA) is no David Fincher, so I didn’t expect DEATH TUBE to be a fundamental discourse on society, modernism, technology and the value of life. Neither should you: DEATH TUBE is a good idea that never really develops, but instead remains the canvas for Mr. Fukuda to paint some deep red “art”. Sensationalism determines the dramaturgy of the film, and instead of being a serious critique of the loss of values we see every day, you could say DEATH TUBE is an accomplice of bringing society down even further as it turns out to be the organizer of the exact same kind of deathly spectacle it pretends to criticize.

We don’t have to discuss questions e.g., if life imitates art or art imitates life and so forth. I am not implying DEATH TUBE is relevant enough to consider starting a serious debate, because it isn’t. DEATH TUBE is a relatively solid film of a genre director, playing games we have seen before in SAW and elsewhere, presenting a few creative atrocities, but mainly unfolding its program without real surprises.

There is no subtext, hidden meaning or intellectual message, there’s just characters in shitty situations kicking the bucket one by one. Compared to someone like Sono Shion Mr. Fukuda seems to be a simple mind without the caliber to cross genre boundaries. DEATH TUBE caters to the same audience that would be watching Death Tube, so what does that say about the movie?

If you belong to those who think the internet is responsible for all the bad things in the world then the movie will not convince you otherwise, engage in a dialogue with you or explain to you that life’s a bit more complex than. If you think that the internet is heaven on earth the movie’s not going to convince you otherwise either, as it leverages on the endless possibilities on the net. Whatever you think, the movie will actually leave you alone, and that’s why DEATH TUBE is just a horror flick and not a great movie.

If you want to learn about this day and age, about technology and society, about the human being in a world of bits and bytes and the global communication breakdown through an invention that is supposed to do the opposite, and if you also want to get very, very afraid, then just watch Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s KAIRO. There is no scarier, and better, film about the internet than that.






JAPAN 2010  Directed & Written by: Keiji Inafune Video Game by: Keiji Inafune  Produced by: Keiji Inafune  Cast: Hiroki Yoshida, Hiroshi Yazaki, Hiroyuki Onoue, Kiyohiko Shibukawa

I am not sure if it’s an experiment, or another sign of the times, or just plain nonsense, but DEAD RISING: THE MOVIE is very different from your average video game adaptation made in Hollywood. In fact, it’s as close to being a video game as possible: if one day they can render humans and worlds a truly 100% accurate, video games might very well look just like DEAD RISING.

The movie is set in an alternative reality divided into two areas, one that is affected by outbreaks, and one that isn’t. Two brothers, George and Shin, are planning to escape, and what follows is what usually follows.

The team originally designing Capcom’s DEAD RISING game now also helms the movie: for better or worse, the movie appears fully integrated into the Capcom universe – more a sequel to the games, or a chapter connecting two parts of the game, DEAD RISING: THE MOVIE plays its role in the series and you can’t help but wonder which is the game and which is the movie.

Looking at DEAD RISING strictly from the point of view of movie making, it falls short of delivering anything we haven’t seen yet: DEAD RISING is a low-budget zombie flick, not only lacking budget, but most of all the finesse of other genre entries, the brains of the Romero flicks or the boobs of many of its Japanese peers. So yes, it seamlessly blends into the DEAD RISING universe, but no, it doesn’t stand out as a movie.

It’s a film obviously made for DEAD RISING fans, and as such it may be less an experiment than the future of a multi-channel strategy of digital content, or content in general. In twenty years from now (or earlier, I am afraid) the kids out there wouldn’t ask questions anymore, wouldn’t wonder why a video game doesn’t always work as a film, or why a book is hard to adapt to the screen, or why an action movie doesn’t necessarily make for a great ego-shooter, and so forth. They most probably will start asking questions only as soon as a content is not available across all media; like, why isn’t there a DEAD RISING movie, why isn’t there a DEAD RISING animation series, why isn’t there a DEAD RISING novel etc.

Movie fans don’t need DEAD RISING: THE MOVIE. DEAD RISING fans will be waiting for it. Maybe that’s the last time we see this kind of great divide.