Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pianos, Karmic Cycles and a Joint Security Area

The Beat that My Heart Skipped (Directed by Jacques Audiard): Rating 9/10

The only reason I went to see this movie was because of Romain Duris and I was not disappointed. Duris is quite good as the reluctant gangster. He plays Thomas, a real estate enforcer who is brought into the business by his dad. Thomas and his gang hunt for open real estate property, take it over and then sell it for redevelopment. Sometimes they have to be tough and kick people out, but it is all part of their shady business. One day, Thomas runs into his old Piano teacher. His teacher always felt Thomas had potential and was Thomas’s mother’s teacher. He wonders if Thomas is keeping up with his training and after Thomas replies in the affirmative, his teachers asks him to come for an audition. That gets Thomas motivated and he finds a new zest in life. The music moves him and he believes that is his one chance to escape his current way of life. So does Thomas succeed? Well the movie is very realistic in its approach and manages to show an ending which is alternate to the two obvious options – one where Thomas succeeds in music and the other where he fails and returns to his old way of life. It is an engaging movie for sure.

Running on Karma (directed by Johnny To): Rating 7/10

The second half of the movie is not your typical Johnny To stuff but it works, somewhat. A beefed up male stripper is arrested by the cops. But as it turns out, this former martial arts monk has special powers – he can see people’s futures based on their karma, meaning he knows what will happen to someone based on that person’s former actions. The fake body suit on Andy Lau looks funny as first but after a while, you get used to it. The karmic angle to the second half of the flick is interesting enough but I wish the movie had gotten there earlier. Ofcourse, the required fights and chases are necessary in the first half. The transition between the two halves gives the feeling that Running on Karma is really two movies spliced together.

Joint Security Area (directed by Chan-wook Park): Rating 7.5/10

Long before there was the Revenge trilogy (OldBoy and the two Vengeance movies), Chan-wook Park actually worked on normal movies. Plain, simple stories with no chopping and cutting! This movie centers on a border check post between North and South Korea. A massacre has taken place and a neutral party consisting of Swiss and Swedish personnels is sent to investigate. It so happens that one of the Swiss investigators is a woman of Korean heritage who has never been to Korea before. As she works to peel the truth and tries to understand the accused and defender, she learns a little about her father as well. JSA is an interesting movie which highlights the absurdity of man made borders.

No comments: