More Fumi Nikaido! What else could you possibly need to know? Well: Jimmy Wong Yu returns, and there’s also a zombie romance and an Andy Lau action epic. All of these are great things. We’ve only got a few days left so get while the getting’s great!
Chung Mong-hong’s third feature (after PARKING and THE FOURTH PORTRAIT) is a slasher by way of art film that follows the almost silent Chuan (Joseph Chang), a chef in Taipei who suddenly collapses at work. His sister Hsiao Yun (Chen Hsiang-chi) and two friends drive him to the country home of Uncle Wang (festival guest Jimmy Wong Yu), who lives deep in the forest growing orchids. Soon Chuan commits his first murder and when confronted by Uncle Wang claims he is no long Chuan. So begins a killing spree—and a duo of great cameos by Leon Dai and Tuo Tsung-hua who both show up in search of the growing number of missing people. While not as tightly focused as Chung’s debut film, SOUL is anchored and elevated by Jimmy Wong Yu’s portrayal of Uncle Wang. He is quietly crazier than everyone else in the film yet manages to portray a full range of emotions as he tries to deal with a situation that is rapidly spiraling out of control. The other element that elevates this film is the stunning cinematography by Chung himself working under the pseudonym Nakashima Nagao. The beauty of central Taiwan comes through clearly with loving widescreen shots of misty hills and lush forests, but also impressive is how Chung manages to make the small ramshackle home of Uncle Wang stand out in some of the best shots in the film.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.
MISS ZOMBIE (2013)
Carefully blending horror tropes and thriller elements into a formally restrained, razor-sharp social satire that lovingly melds the humdrum and the deranged, Sabu’s MISS ZOMBIE is a movie so dense it could bend light: running at 85 minutes, it’s a work of compact beauty, predominantly monochrome and largely free of dialogue. On one level the film is an impossibly off-kilter housemaid drama, in which rich family man Dr. Teramoto (Toru Tezuka) receives a very special delivery: a crate containing a mail-order female zombie maid (actress-model Ayaka Komatsu), complete with an instruction manual prescribing a vegetarian diet, a cautionary note against any meat, and a gun… just in case. Teramoto’s wife, Shizuko (Makoto Togashi, Guilty of Romance), promptly puts the zombie to work, assigning her the dreary task of scrubbing the garden patio—surely a job only a brain-dead zombie could endure. Soon she is physically and sexually abused by those around her and things take an ominous turn. This is the other level of the film, a dark, melancholy tale of maternal love and revenge, full of dry, ironic humor and abrupt twists, which playfully challenges the audience’s expectations.
MY MAN (2014)
Based on Kazuki Sakuraba’s controversial best seller, and directed by the award-winning Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (SKETCHES OF KAITAN CITY), MY MAN is the quieting disturbing tale of two lost souls, a man and an adolescent girl, fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago. Hana (Fumi Nikaido) is only 10 years old when she loses everything to the 1993 tsunami in Okushiri. Promptly taken in by a 26-year-old distant relative, Jungo (Tadanobu Asano), the young girl and the bereft man form a de facto, makeshift family, and start living together as father and daughter, united by their sense of irrevocable loss. A few years later, Jungo, who earns a living cooking for the coast guards, frequently leaves a fast-transforming teenage Hana alone for long stretches of time. And so starts a fire between Jungo and Hana, whose connective tissue goes from emotional to erotic, from inchoate to inflamed, from serene to obscene. Lead by three generations of Japan’s greatest actors, Tadanobu Asano (Last Life in the Universe, Café Lumière, Mongol), Fumi Nikaido (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), and veteran actor Tatsuya Fuji (In the Realm of the Senses), MY MAN is a love story that goes where few dare to travel.
Actress Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening and will be presented with the Screen International Rising Star Award.
FIRESTORM 3D (2013)
The Hong Kong action movie turned up to 11, FIRESTORM never throws logic out the window to reach the surreal heights of a movie like The White Storm, but if that movie is the ultimate Man Opera, FIRESTORM is a heavy-metal concert rocking it in the key of Macho. Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau plays Lui, a prissy police detective who’s getting his butt handed to him by flashy thief Nam (Hu Jun, Drug War and As the Light Goes Out), an insanely competent career criminal who knocks over armored cars like dominos. When an old high-school buddy of Lui’s gets released from prison and starts working for Nam, a chink appears in the bad guy’s high-caliber armor, and Lui realizes that if he wants to take his opponent down he needs to start breaking the rules. With a sledgehammer. And a machine gun. And a speeding car. What follows is a movie in which everything goes to hell hard and fast and the end credits only roll once pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has been murdered in an epic shootout.
Part of HONG KONG FOREVER! Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.
Stay tuned for daily updates from us here at Daily Grindhouse, and hey, if you’d like to find out which screenings I’ll personally be attending, you know where to find me …
– JON ABRAMS.
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