This Week In Cinema: March 17-23, 2013

election 2

In a lot of ways the elections in the Triad are more just than the American election process!

Only a handful of movies this week,

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011, Rupert Wyatt, United States Of America) ***

It doesn’t rewrite the book in any way, but it’s always a pleasant experience to watch a well made science fiction film. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes sputters at times, most notably in some of its more scientific moments and in the lack of a character played by Freida Pinto (who I’m still not convinced is any type of capable actress). However, the dramatically touching moments and the momentum of the film overcome any of its flaws. I was genuinely compelled by Caesar, his growth, his relationship with James Franco/John Lithgow, and by the seamless technology used to bring Caesar to life. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes taps into some real emotions, and provides well intentioned science fiction moments in a film that metes out enough goods to make a sci-fi fan happy.

Hak Se Wui (Election, 2005, Johnnie To, Hong Kong) ***1/2

This is only the second Johnnie To feature I have seen, but I came away from Hak Se Wui mightily impressed with his ability to construct a film. I use the word construct because that is what happens in Hak Se Wui. Every moment in the film is a moment of construction. A frame isn’t just a frame, it is a moment necessary for the frame before and the frame after. The construction aspect of Hak Se Wui lends itself to tension, lots of tension. Conversations in Hak Se Wui are built around the idea of suspense and how they will impact what comes after them. In a lot of ways Hak Se Wui is movie that flows off of the screen and at the viewer, not really giving the viewer a chance to breathe under the suffocating construction that is taking place. I wasn’t super psyched to continue my exploration of the Johnnie To filmography before Hak Se Wui, but now I can’t wait to dig into more.

Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai (Election 2, 2006, Johnnie To, Hong Kong) ***1/2

If Hak Se Wui was about gaining power, Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai is about holding on to power and gaining power that you don’t want. A duality such as that is hard to pull off, but I’ll be damned if Johnnie To doesn’t pull it off in great style. Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai is full of style, and great characters, but it’s also full of wonderful direction. I was deeply intrigued at the way the direction of the film handled the duality theme, the idea of power, family, and country, to name just a few elements of Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai. I did have some minor issues with a few characters who felt like they were thrown into the script just because. But, on the whole I greatly enjoyed Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai, I found it just as dramatic and suspenseful as I did tragic and comic, and that’s what I call a great film.

Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011, Michael Damian, United States Of America) 1/2*

All Marley & Me: The Puppy Years needed was the cuteness of Marley. Allowing a puppy like that to be as rambunctious as Marley can be would have made for a perfectly fine family movie. However, those involved with making this movie decided to add in countless fart jokes, make the dogs talk, and be sure that the first hour of the movie was as boring and stupid as possible. The final twenty five minutes or so are great in a batshit insane sort of way. Dogs are taken away from their owner and adopted on the spot, there’s a judge who is insanely evil and then gives away a sportsmanship award for no reason, and there are a lot of crazy Germans running around. If all of Marley & Me: The Puppy Years would have been like the final twenty minutes it would have been a terribly awesome flick. As it stands, Marley & Me: The Puppy Years was no more than a terrible waste of my time.

Wrap-Up:

Two really great movies this week, and a pretty darn entertaining sci-fi joint, make for a happy movie viewing week. I slightly preferred Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai to its predecessor, although both are great films. However, it is Hak Se Wui Yi Wo Wai Kwai that is taking home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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