Adult social order is a tapestry of cruelty, cynicism, buffoonery, and continuous absurdity - the delusion of control and the use of force in an attempt to obtain it purveyed through the pensive and pure perspective of youthful angst and contempt for this form of social servitude. Not so much polemic as imbued with a sense of mystery and befuddlement towards the absurdity of adult life, P.P. Rider is a beguiling but continuously intriguing evocation of youth revolt. Somai's use of an amorphous structure will be difficult for some to grapple with but what he's created is an ultimately distinctive tale of disenchantment and rebellion that presents a lot to chew on.
More perverse and erotic than I was expecting, Deep Trap finds great utility within the dichotomous nature of urban-rural life, delivering a diabolical little thriller that doesn't always work but has its devious little pleasures. An urban couple struggling with the grief of a miscarriage, and in desperate need of reigniting their relationship, head to a small isolated island where the local host, Ma Dong-seok, and his subservant wife are not what they seem! This film's horror fundamentally rooted in unease, subversion, and deranged discovery. It may not have enough thrills to appease the horror crowd looking for a barrage of titillation but it delivers quite a diabolical little treat with a solid emotional core and some interesting thematic subtext for those looming for that type of thing. Ma Dong-seok plays a mysterious, rural creeper so it felt like a nice change of pace from his more stoic heroes. He is having fun here, playing this demented antagonist who begins as a kind but slightly off host before the revelation that he is a straight-up psychotic. Deep Trap traverses a relatively familiar motif in horror, but it has enough character and psychosexual deviance to deliver the goods. Make mistake this one does get pretty gnarly in moments but the thrust of what makes it fun is seeing Ma Dong-seok stepping a bit out of his comfort zone, combining his intimidating frame with a sinister smirk to make this subversive horror/thriller worth a look.
The coming of age archetype entangled with such Irreverence and provocation, 36 Fillette is revelatory in the way it traverses uncomfortable terrain. It's provocative but earnest, detailing a young girls sexual and cognitive awakening through a taboo subject matter that could have easily divulged into the grotesque. Deftly managing to balance its irreverence with a thunderous honesty, the film exhibits the objectification of the female form, the dangers within, and the dynamics of power that lay within carnal desire between the masculine and feminine forms. Through her escapades with this older man and the subsequent denouement, 36 Fillette pronounces the transactional nature of sex, and how when disentangled from emotion, can grant a young girl finding herself a sense of autonomy and power when navigating a male-dominated world. A story of awakening, this young woman who is taken advantage of, learns about the power she wields in the social arena where the female body, while exploited and objectified, can be utilized for one's own gain when self-aware. Her body is a useful commodity, a tool for seizing back power and agency, and in the denouement when our young female protagonist smiles at the camera, breaking the fourth wall,, 36 Fillette suggests she has awakened - the recognition of power she has, and the service in which this power can help her obtain emotional and intellectual betterment.
A feral, aggressive film rooted in polemics and agitation. Has a revolutionary spirit but sadly doesn't earn any type of thematic resolve related to class consciousness, social oppression, etc. This is not really a good film when viewed through an orthodoxical lens. The central characterization isn't an anti-hero in positioning but frankly that would have probably been the better move. The story seems to really want to make this character empathetic to the audience and it simply isn't all that effective. He's not a victim of a vicious system given the inciting incident of this story, so it's hard to find this film effective when Cheang levies critique towards the hyper-commercialization and commodification of tradition - the spiritual ethos of Martial Arts decaying and being consumed by the only motive that matters, profit. I guess what I'm saying is this is a film that feels in contention with itself. There are a lot of thematic touchstones in here but nothing quite gels, and given this is based off a popular Magna it makes me wonder if this is the classic case of an artist doing his best with under-cooked source material and financiers that cinema to be a secondary medium ;). With all that in mind, I kinda loved this? lol. Shamo is a highly visceral experience, one in which Cheang and company deploy cinematic artistry in the form of editing, cinematography, art design, etc. to craft a hyper-engaging treat of transgressive pleasures. Has a lot of that "burn it all down" energy, and despite that there are far better films that achieve this across, story, theme, and technical mastery, I respect the hell out of this film's underlying spirit of revolt in which it delivers a panoply of stunning imagery and a heterodoxical perspective on the state of marital arts/competitive fighting.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.