A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng) is a 2005 South Korean R-rated action film written and directed by Kim Jee-woon, starring Lee Byung-hun, Shin Min-a, Kim Yeong-cheol, Hwang Jung-min and Kim Roi-ha. After refusing to kill his boss’s cheating girlfriend and escaping his own death, a gangster goes on a violent revenge path.
NO SPOILERS (Don’t watch the trailer!)
It’s a refreshingly realistic action film with outstanding performances by the whole cast. Co-star Kim Roi-ha shows a great character development throughout the film and is fun to watch. I admire the respect and discipline of Asian cultures such as in Korea, Japan and China. Kim Sunwoo (Lee Byung-hun) is a straight-faced enforcer loyal to all his boss’s orders. We don’t need to know about his personal life nor his background. We only see him on the job and this makes him look like the ultimate asset. Almost robotic. The star’s fighting skills and agility brings more to his gangster role and the fight choreography is good.
The film is beautiful and elegant without having to show excessive blood for one that has an air of Kill Bill. The music is wonderfully composed to each scene both calm and action, which when combined with the actors’ facial expressions and limiting words, delivers an amazing result. Most of the shooting is still which I enjoy much more than handheld shooting as it gives a higher professional touch. I must say that the production’s lighting is very pleasant. The story, the characters, the interactions, the music, the decisions and the consequences deliver a tasteful work of art, and the ending… Well you’ll have to watch it to find out for yourself.
This is my first Kim Jee-woon film and I loved it. A film speaks more to you through facial expressions and music than words could ever, and A Bittersweet Life does exactly this. I highly recommend not watching the trailer as it gives away much of the points of the plot.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen
Contact is a 1997 science fiction drama film directed by a great visual storyteller, Robert Zemeckis. It stars Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, William Fichtner, Tom Skerrit, James Woods, John Hurt, David Morse and Jena Malone. An incredible cast. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name. Carl and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film. Jodie Foster plays the lead role of Dr. Ellie Arroway, a SETI scientist who discovers undeniable evidence of extraterrestrial life, and is chosen to make first contact.
NO SPOILERS (don’t watch the trailer!)
Daddy’s Home is a 2015 comedy film directed by Sean Anders and written by Brian Burns, Anders, and John Morris. The film stars Will Ferrel, Mark Wahlberg and Linda Cardellini. Will Ferrel plays as Brad Whitaker, trying to get his stepchildren to like him and call him Dad but has his plans ruined when their biological father, Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) returns. This is Ferrel’s and Wahlberg’s second collaboration since 2010 action-comedy The Other Guys. The trailer for Daddy’s Home looked good and seeing these two big stars working together again showed promise and possibly some 96 minutes worth of good entertainment. But sadly this wasn’t case. Not only was it not funny but it was lame. The chemistry between the two main protagonists was nonexistent and the whole air of the comedy felt forced with cheesy situations and weak jokes. All the stuff you see in the trailer are the good parts and that’s it! You are left waiting for character development that will never happen. Dusty’s character had you thinking he was a wild badass and there were moments you’d think he was about to prove that, but no such moment ever happened. The whole cast lacked energy except for two actors: Thomas Haden Church and Hannibal Buress. Those two had me genuinely laughing in each of their scenes. Basically, it was a total let down and would suggest everyone to stay away from this one. Don’t let your thoughts about Ferrel and Wahlberg be ruined by this terrible “comedy.”
The Revenant is a 2015 western epic film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu based loosely on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel of the same name. The film is inspired by the experiences of fur trapper and frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, fought for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. This film is truly epic with some extraordinary perfomances by the cast, an outstanding directing by Iñárritu, breathtaking shots by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and a deep and beautiful music score by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto. The level of effort and heart put into this project is tremendous and deserves all the types of film awards in existence.
Here are 16 remarkable facts about what is undoubtedly another masterpiece by the great Alejandro G. Iñárritu:
1. When development of The Revenant began way back in 2001, the main character was originally to be played by Samuel L. Jackson with Korean Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) as the director. The project was then taken over by director John Hillcoat (The Road) and actor Christian Bale. Then by Jean Francois Richet (Assault on Precinct 13). It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that Iñárritu signed on to direct.
Continue reading Film Trivia: 16 Remarkable Facts about The Revenant
The Thirteenth Floor is a 1999 sci-fi crime thriller directed by Josef Rusnak and relatively based upon Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3, also published as Counterfeit World (1964). The film stars Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio and Dennis Haysbert. Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important, but knowing someone is after him, he leaves a letter for his colleague, Douglas Hall, in the virtual reality his company has created. Fuller is murdered in the real world and his colleague is suspected. Douglas finds a bloody shirt in his bathroom and cannot recall what he did during the night Fuller was murdered, so he enters the simulation to find the letter but is confronted with the unexpected.
Continue reading #38 – The Thirteenth Floor – by Nick Andersen
Knight of Cups is a 2015 R-rated experimental film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto and Natalie Portman. Basically, it’s about a man (Bale) trying to find his place in the world going through the strange events happening around him. While successful in his career, he feels empty inside and surrounds himself with women and the Hollywood scene that become a temporary distraction from depressing family issues and his ongoing questioning existence. You know how you watch one video on YouTube and then another and so on in the Related Videos sidebar? That’s how I stumbled upon Knight of Cups. The trailer intrigued me with its many different unsteady shots and interesting imagery. The whole air of it told me that this was no ordinary film and that you’d have to pay close attention to it, to understand its deeper meaning, and that fascinated me and I challenged myself to watch the almost two-hour film with the hope of coming up with my own interpretation. Sadly no such thing happened.
Continue reading #37 – Knight of Cups – by Nick Andersen
Mr. Holmes is a 2015 drama mystery film directed by Bill Condon and written by Jeffrey Hatcher based on Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind. Now retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes struggles with his fading memory as he recounts the unsolved case that led to his retirement with the help of his housekeeper’s upcoming-detective son. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. This is no ordinary story about Sherlock Holmes. In fact, we have never seen him like this and they explain it quite well. No wonder the tagline for this film is, “the man behind the myth.”
Continue reading #36 – Mr. Holmes – by Nick Andersen
A Walk In The Woods is 2015 R-rated adventure comedy biographical film, directed by Ken Kwapis based on the memoir by the same name by Bill Bryson. The film stars Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. It follows Bill Bryson, a successful writer in his 60s deciding to hike the Appalachian trail, with his rotund friend Stephen Katz whom unexpectedly contacted him after many years without seeing each other, asking to tag along. The last film that I laughed so much out loud, must have been Ted (2012) and before that it was Pineapple Express (2008). With Ted it was because the humor was for the first time outrageous, and with Pineapple Express, it was hilarious watching two dumb stoners which James Franco and Seth Rogen nailed. A Walk In The Woods’ comedy is nothing like that. It’s honest and doesn’t force absurd or unlikely situations, which I believe has been the mistake many comedy films have made in the past. Reading and thinking now after watching it that it’s a biography, makes it that much funnier. Robert Redford himself said he had never laughed so much from reading a book.
The film is a fun treat. The long-lost friendship between Redford and Nolte is great and Nolte’s character adds a lot to the story. He is so out of shape and his face is red almost throughout the entire film looking like he’s about to drop dead. He is the opposite type of person to try and hike a 2,000+ mile stretch. The screenplay is the winner here as it is hilariously good! Especially Katz’s remarks and comments to the small moments in each scene. At one point my face literally hurt from laughing so much. This is definitely a feel-good film. Besides the hilarity, the cinematography was stunning. So much forest and for so many miles all over. It was beautiful to see and learn about the Appalachian trail. I will certainly read the book and hope to get a good laugh out of the read as well. I highly recommend this one to anybody who’s looking for a good hour of fun. This biopic film will NOT waste your time.
Thanks for reading my short review!
– Nick Andersen
We Are Your Friends is a 2015 R-rated musical drama directed by Max Joseph in his directorial debut and written by himself and Meaghan Oppenheimer, based on a story by Richard Silverman. The film stars Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. The film follows Cole Carter, a struggling 23-year-old DJ in the (EDM) electronic dance music scene, who meets and becomes the apprentice of an older DJ, simultaneously falling in love with his mentor’s girlfriend. Being the psytrance lover that I am, this film was fun to watch and see the process into building a track and a name for yourself, since there aren’t many DJ films out there; but for a Hollywood version, I have to say I’m impressed. When it comes to EDM you’d expect a European take on it, so when I read it was going to be American I immediately thought about all the comercialism that it could go through (like the title), but it’s not so present. Go watch the first trailer they released. It’s pretty good; and like the trailer, so is the film.
Continue reading #34 – We Are Your Friends – by Nick Andersen
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a 2014 science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It stars Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The film is a sequel and is set 10 years after the events of Rise of The Planet of The Apes (2011). The film follows a group of people in San Francisco struggling to survive while Caeser tries to keep the balance over his community of intelligent apes. You may have seen Tim Burton’s terrible attempt at a remake of the original film, back in 2001 and felt disappointed, but a lot has changed in the special effects department since, and this film is definitely mind blowingly good.
Continue reading #33 – Dawn of The Planet of The Apes – by Nick Andersen