The Purge (Blu-ray release 2013-10-8) tells the story of a future America allowing legal murders in one night annually, in order to achieve a low-crime society for the rest of the year. This idea is as much ridiculous as it is creative. However, this is the only good thing in the movie, because the entire thing is built on top of repeated stupidity demonstrated by everybody, including the protagonists and the villains. Whatever messages the movie might want to explore are therefore lost.
I’m pleased to announce that after watching so many ghost movies without a sense of satisfaction for a long time, finally I’ve come across one that I’m happy with. In Killer Toon (Blu-ray release 2013-10-28), the gruesome horror stories about people getting killed, drawn by a South Korean webcomic author, become real. The webcomic also includes real life details about the victims that no else knows about. Although the police suspects the author, something supernatural is going on.
This movie is original, and successfully combines several types of effective scares with a good story. Even the CG is done in a way that really enhances the overall visuals instead of cheapening the ghosts. Unlike many twists in typical movies, the ending twists in this movie are actually coherent with and enhances the storyline. No wonder this movie became a box office success in South Korea.
Two watch salesmen join a fictionalized internship program in The Internship (Blu-ray release 2013-10-22), to compete with other teams for full time jobs in Google. This comedy is not bad but not great either. I do not mind the stereotyping too much but the movie is merely sometimes funny. Since Google is portrayed positively in this movie, it feels like a movie-length product placement. To my surprise Google did not invest in this movie, other than lending the place, staff and their time, etc.
I think the subject of dying with dignity is really important, but it has not been explored much in fictional movies. A Terminal Trust / Tsui no Shintaku (Blu-ray release 2013-4-19), an adaptation of a Japanese novel, tells the story of a female doctor befriending a long time patient. Faced with financial pressures and not wanting to burden his family any more, the patient asks the doctor to end his life when the doctor determines his conditions to be not worthy of continuing his life – this is what the terminal trust refers to in the title.
I think this really slow paced movie presents the case of supporting dying with dignity well enough. However, the opposite viewpoint is explored only via a very lengthy discussion between the doctor and a prosecutor. I believe this is not the ideal way to present ideas in a motion picture. To make things worse, the prosecutor uses cunning techniques to force the doctor to admit to murdering the patient. Although the director has the right to express his dissatisfaction about the Japanese prosecution system (as he did before), this treatment harms the balance of the movie.
The Complex (2013) is a Japanese horror movie from the director that made the classic Ring / Ringu (1998). The protagonist in this story moves into a new home, meets a child in the playground. After a long time she finds that something bad happened to her neighbor. After an even longer time, the truth is revealed, but nothing bad really happened during this long wait. This is a very disappointing effort. There are too few scares in this movie to be considered a successful horror movie. As a drama, its story is too simple. Besides, I dislike major characters doing stupid things in a horror movie.
重口味 (Hardcore Comedy) (Blu-ray release 2013-10-23) is a Hong Kong comedy movie. It is marketed as a movie about prostitution, drugs, and gambling. Its Chinese title means it is supposed to be extreme. However, only the first of the three short stories in the movie really deserves to be called extreme. The first story is about two college nerds living near a bunch of prostitutes. It is a complete mess so there is no point in summarizing the story. It shows many scantily dressed women in various forms of costumes including cosplay and SM, several scenes of male masturbation, a few perverted scenes, and the boys dress up in ridiculous superhero costumes in which one of them wears an Intel CPU Fan and a floppy drive to fight the police.
The second story is a mini road movie in which the protagonist delivers drugs to different places and meet different people. The different characters and even the police are somewhat crazy but it is only slightly comedic. The third story is a really normal story in which the protagonist is asked to kill somebody to pay for his gambling debt. Preparing to die, he decides to find the woman whom he loved many years ago. This story is relatively pleasant to watch, but there is nothing extreme about it.
Strawberry Night is a Japanese 2012 TV series featuring a female detective leading her own team to solve cases. I did not watch the TV series, but since the 2013 movie follow-up to the series got pretty good reviews, I watched the movie (Blu-ray release 2013-7-17). Adapted from the novel Invisible Rain, the movie can be understood completely even without prior knowledge from the TV series, although I’m sure the TV series must have provided more background for the supporting characters.
In spite of the many good reviews, I’m disappointed with it. I look for detective work in a detective movie, but this is not a standard detective movie. A significant part of the movie deals with police politics and their cover-up of an old mishandled case, and the authority preventing the protagonist from investigating a suspect for fear of exposing the old case. It seems that Japanese is really fond of this style of police movie, but I do not. When the movie is not showing oppression, it shows the female protagonist and a gangster getting really attracted to each other. I suspect female audiences may like this good woman fall for a bad guy plot much more than I do, and is therefore impressed by the character development of both of them. This leaves very little screen time for really doing detective work. In fact, the ultimate villain shows up without being investigated at all, or any clue about him being found. I also cannot see anything from the movie that can reasonably lead to what happens to the police management at the end of the movie.
I despise movies that rely on feces or urine to create a joke. Grown Ups 2 (Blu-ray release 2013-11-5), however, does it so many times that I lost count of it. It makes me sad to see such a movie did much better than the awesome Pacific Rim in the US market. There has to be a reason for its success. I think it is due to the sheer number of jokes in this movie – I think it has 20 times more jokes than the average ‘romantic comedy’ movies. (OK, this is not an apple-to-apple comparison, but it illustrates my point.) With so many jokes, there’s a far higher chance of success in generating laughs from different types of audiences. Putting my subjective taste aside, I admit that the filmmakers did put in their effort to create jokes. Being able to come up with this many jokes using urine and feces is beyond the ability of a normal person.
Curse of Chucky (Blu-ray release 2013-10-8) is the latest sequel in the Child’s Play series in form of a direct-to-video release. All the direct-to-video horror movies I’ve watched before are quite bad or really bad, but Curse of Chucky is well made and effectively delivers standard horrors, even though I’m not intrigued by a serial killer doll. Since I’ve not watched the series before, I like the fact that this movie contains a flashback to explain the origin of Chucky. However, it toke me a little time in google searches to find out how the special characters at the end of movie relate to the history of the series.
Lovelace (Blu-ray release 2013-11-5) is a dramatized biography of Linda Lovelace who became really famous in Deep Throat (1972). Unfortunately it is quite flawed.
In order to present the conflicting reports of the real person, the first half of the movie presents everything positively, while the second half goes back in time and retell the story of the protagonist getting abused and forced into prostitution by her husband. If this were a documentary, objectively presenting the conflicting reports would be a good thing to do. However, as a dramatized biography it does not work. It screws up the sequence of events and makes the incomplete biography even more fragmented.
Worse, it contradicts itself – early in the movie, it was hinted that Lovelace has no idea what type of movie she’s participating in, but this is not the case in the second half of the movie.
People interested in this subject should watch Inside Deep Throat (2005).