Films From 2013 Condensed

This is why I love film.

Someone has gone ahead and spliced together scenes from 300 films this year into one condensed 7 minute film. The result is absolutely mesmerizing. The effort this person must have put into editing this work is pretty impressive, but what’s more impressive, is their ability to show us the themes and ideas that hold all of these disparate films together. It reminds us why we go to see movies in the first place, and why we’re so addicted to their pull.

Cronos (1993)

“Suo tempore.”

★★★★

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook

Inside a gold contraption that can fit into the palm of your hand, there are cogs and wheels turning to the rhythm of eternal life. This little ticking toy takes some of your blood, mixes it within the body of a poor slave-driven insect, and injects you with a few more living years. But like most fascinating machines, this one comes with a manual. And for those who don’t use the device with caution, they could end up chewing off more than they can swallow.

cronos

 

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Cronos captures the imagination with a magnetic sense of horror. As we are drawn to the gold giver of life with as much curiosity and desire as the film’s protagonist, Jesus Gris (Luppi), Guillermo del Toro unwinds a beautifully crafted story of a man who has immortality thrust upon him. With wonderfully theatrical scenes of color design and a heartbreaking relationship between Jesus and his granddaughter, Guillermo del Toro fashions a uniquely impressive horror story that ticks to its own style of suspense, black humor, and beauty.

Event Horizon (1997)

“Who knows where it’s been, what it’s seen. Or what it’s brought back with it.”

★★

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by: Philip Eisner
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan

Set in the year 2047, Paul Anderson’s Event Horizon takes a space rescue team out to Neptune, where they recover a deep space exploration ship that disappeared some seven years ago. The ship, named ‘Event Horizon’, was part of a secret mission to enter a gateway to another universe. How the ship returned, and what it brought back with it, is a mystery. That is, until the rescue team is lured into the evil that caused Event Horizon’s previous shipmates to turn into human pâté.

event horizon

While Event Horizon has the look of a well-oiled space horror film, it doesn’t quite pull off its blend of supernatural elements and science fiction fear. The crew is made up of likable and intriguing characters, but as their personal demons – including traumatic past experiences and family members – take the place of the flesh eating aliens that we’re used to, Event Horizon fails to lift its psychological scares out of the shock value orbit.

In the end, Event Horizon leaves it up to the explosions and the bloody gore to tie up loose ends in the plot’s logic and major fear factor. With a set and ensemble cast ready for take-off, Event Horizon lacks the suspense or the psychological depth that it needs to be an out-of-this-world space thriller.

War of the Arrows (2011)

“Never seen an archer like that before…”

★★★

Directed by: Han-min Kim
Written by: Han-min Kim
Starring: Hae-il Park, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Mu-Yeol Kim

War-of-the-Arrows

It isn’t a “war of the arrows” so much as a war of one man vs. the entire Manchu army. Or perhaps, Korean archer Nam-Yi is battling with a traumatic experience from his past. Perhaps it’s an internal struggle of guilt? Perhaps he’s actually fighting his own nation’s stubborn aversion toward diplomatic relations with its regional neighbors. In any case, Han-min Kim’s War of the Arrows doesn’t beg for deeper thought or analysis with its fast-paced action, flying arrows, and small, exciting turns in the plot. Had the film invested a little more time in the characters and the film’s historical context, however,  it may have hit the mark.

Having lost their father to the hands of Korea’s unmerciful law enforcers, Nam-Yi (Park) and his sister Ja-In (Moon) grow up in the home of a military official and his son. From the traumatic experience of seeing his father sentenced to death for promoting diplomacy with foreign countries, Nam-Yi develops an overprotective attitude towards his younger sister and a cynical view of heroism. But when Ja-In and her husband-to-be (you guessed it, the military official’s son) are kidnapped mid-wedding in a surprise attack by invading Manchu soldiers, Nam-Yi’s overprotectiveness goes into overdrive. With expert skills in archery, Nam-Yi stalks down his sister’s captors in a wild goose chase through the Korean wilderness.

There’s no denying that Han-min Kim is a talented writer-director for action. Once Kim releases the tension of the incoming invasion, action unfurls without a pause for breath. Kim’s navigation of the Korean forest landscape and direction of the ensuing arrow-fueled violence is attention-grabbing and exciting enough for us to stick it out through to the end. Kim’s expertise in action direction may fly high, but when it comes to pulling back bow of tension and character development before the action takes off, Kim doesn’t give us the time to get to know characters that are about to get in the thick of action. If Kim had fleshed out Nam-Yi as a likable character, and invested more time in building his relationship with his sister, the compelling quality of the story would have shot through the roof. Instead, War of Arrows is happy to assume that audiences will tap into the universal understanding that familial ties are strong, that defending your country is important, and bravery comes from jumping across cliffs, hiding behind trees, and taking on an army of Manchu guys. War of Arrows may be good (not great) entertainment, but it’s not the most satisfying story to have crossed Korean cinema’s collection of action flicks.

Hana and Alice (2004)

“Don’t you think real people are scarier than zombies and ghosts?”

★★★★

Directed by: Shunji Iwai
Written by: Shunji Iwai
Starring: Anne Suzuki, Yû Aoi, Tomohiro Kaku

hana and alice

If your best friend has a crush on a boy, and she takes advantage of a situation in which he runs into a door to convince him that he has amnesia and forgotten she is his girlfriend, you help her. At least that’s what Hana (Suzuki) and Alice (Yu) see as the most natural turn of events. Writer-director Shunji Iwai, who explored the extremism of teen angst in All About Lily Chou-Chou, proves his understanding of adolescence once again in the more conventional, tried and true love triangle story that makes Hana and Alice accessible and simultaneously affecting.  

Hana (Suzuki) and Alice (Yu) are the perfect partners in crime. While they are giggling examples of youthful innocence in their school uniforms, their internal workings are a little more devious, sadder, and darker than what you see on the surface. Director Iwai unfolds these tangled inner workings of teen girls, beginning with Hana’s fixation on Masahi (Kaku) – a soft-spoken boy in the storytelling club at school who catches the same train as Hana and Alice. When Hana takes advantage of Masahi’s head accident to become his girlfriend – fabricating incidents of love that she convinces must have been lost in his amnesia state – Alice is sucked into a series of Hana’s lies that she happily plays to, until she too falls for Masahi.

While Hana and Alice ostensibly appears to be a love story, it is a film about self-discovery and maturing emotionally. Shunji Iwai tells the story of two girls who fall in love with a terribly boring and uncharismatic boy because of certain limitations and obstacles within their own personal lives. The two girls feel these internal sufferings on a very fundamental level, and yet, aren’t quite sure of what they are, where they stem from, and how they can overcome them. Shunji Iwai explores this adolescent confusion with charm and humor. He shows us the sadness of his characters with absurd situations, unpredictable moments, and scenes loaded with the same sense of unease and uncertainty that his characters are burdened with. Beautifully crafted and purely enjoyable to watch, Hana and Alice looks at the adolescent experience with a creative eye and a deeply relatable story despite its bizarre and quirky qualities. 

Movies as Barcodes

Wouldn’t it be great if Shrek Forever After actually looked like this?

shrek

 

MOVIEBARCODE whose blog can be seen here compresses films into intriguing barcode-like color schemes.

Some of my personal favorites include:

The Wizard of Oz

wizard

 

Xmen

xmen

 

The Shining

shin

 

Star Trek: Into Darkness

star

 

Would make very cool artwork in a cinephile’s home, no?