Tuesday, February 23
Tuesday, February 16
The middle child of the most ambitious film trilogy in recent years---there's no use arguing with me on this one---moves so briskly that oftentimes I felt the need to come up for air, but I loved every stubbornly dense moment of it.
No, I haven't finished the manga because, for this one, I wanted to experience the head rush and the nitpicking of puzzle pieces. (If LOST is your thing and haven't given up on the parallel time-line mindfuck, then you'll have a hoot with this one.)
It's years after the New Year's Eve attack of 2000, and it's the kids' turn to figure out how to strike back against Friend and his creepily smiling followers. Time lines and lives intersect, what Donkey saw in the science lab is revealed, and a messiah rises from the dead. Reviews keep mentioning how the uninitiated will find it difficult to wade through layers of subplots and time jumps. I'm not filing this under For Manga Readers Only and won't stereotype a fantastic plot as convoluted or impossible to follow.
Some parts, I admit, are just too unbelievable. But the Pope's speech aside, 20th Century Boys is similar in texture, in whiffs of melancholia, to Stephen King's novel IT. There's something about the journey from childhood to adulthood that bites with bittersweet pangs. Contrasts become warm and fuzzy memories, and along with the memories come the longing. I began to wonder whatever happened to the kids I used to spend afternoons with playing until my knees were bruised and bleeding. Are they doing well and living comfortably? Have they turned into monsters? Fighters? And where is that kid now, the six year-old Thor who told stories to his friends everyday but now barely has time to write down his own thoughts? ****
Wednesday, February 10
The sequel curse plagues Phobia 2 (ห้าแพร่ง/Ha Prang), not so much in direction as it does in composition, in the gaping silence between screams. A shame really because this is more surefooted than the original, driven by the horrors of road accidents and lurking mysteries that seduce and terrorize.
Seductive, that dark charm that lures us in, 4bia had plenty of. From the longing to connect in Ngao/Loneliness to the deliciously creepy miss en scene of a corpse in an empty plane in Teaw Bin 244/Flight 244, 4bia tickled and chewed on our imagination. Phobia 2, in keeping with the theme maybe, lost the ability to seduce with frights that drive by in a flash, as opposed to building up the creepy. Novice seems to be the most balanced in storytelling, with a weighty reveal that jolts. That last bit in the woods was difficult to watch---I knew how painful it would get but I couldn't help but watch it. This push and pull of terror and curiosity, though not as overwhelming as Loneliness, saves Novice from its "fantastic" end, (Geek Hint: Terry Brook's Sword of Shannara).
Ward has an interesting premise but falls short of actual surprise, with nothing much more to offer if you've seen the trailer.
Backpackers. Now, I'm a Songyos Sugmakanan fan and this man can do wonders with characterization, and can twist emotions as well as plots, but Backpackers is just…okay. He doesn't really add much to the zombie genre and the camera work is 28 Days Later familiar.
Salvage doesn't make much sense; the retribution was a little too much for just being a bitch. The scares are as obvious as the danger music, and I felt that the lead didn't really deliver. This could've been a great acting piece, but the lack of connection, of escalating desperation has made this difficult to get into.
In the End, I gather from the other reviews I've read, has become this installment's favorite segment. It is quite clever, and the four guys from 4bia's In the Middle, are still delivering the funnies. Marsha Wattanapanich is totally game playing herself---but not really her self---but the end feels forced, just so it could fit into the theme.
In the end, Phobia 2 does feel like driving past a car crash. Curiosity turns to fear. Fear turns to pity. And then you move to wherever you were headed to, driving away and forgetting. **
Tuesday, February 2
Tin Shui Wai. The City of Sadness. Towering housing projects rising like deadly spikes have replaced old fish ponds in the 1990s. And along with the Hong Kong workers that relocated to the city for the promise of jobs that never materialized due to poor city planning, come the continuing reports of unemployment, suicides, and gang wars among others.