The Chaser (2008) directed by Na Hong-jinI had seen Na Hong-jin's The Chaser on import DVD, and while I was impressed, I was also let down by an overworked ending. The two fade-to-black endings was my last and lasting impression of The Chaser, but seeing it again has led me to reevaluate not only its problems but its overwhelming merits. The Chaser is a heart-pounding action thriller that is apologetically brutal and clever. It is a film of shifts—not turns, but shifts—that questions social conventions, genre playbooks, and political power. I'm committed to giving this one some more thought in perhaps another screening and a full review. The Chaser was the first Korean language big screen offering in the Twin Cities since the last MSPIFF (but only one, Woman on the Beach) and that is just not right. And before that? Probably three years ago or whenever Oldboy was in town (for one week.) I appreciated The Chaser and Tokyo Sonata, but the Film Fest need to bone up on their East Asian film offerings in a big way. Seriously. Give me a call.
Apron Strings (2006) directed by Simu UraleApron Strings was a mash-up of so many movies that we have all seen before. This drama from New Zealand focuses on two families amongst a culturally diverse backdrop. Lorma is the owner of a traditional cake shop who is trying desperately to understand her lay-about son and her single daughter who is pregnant and vegetarian and macrobiotic. The other story is of two sisters of Indian decent who have not spoken to each other in 20 years. Anita, cut off from her family years ago, has moved away from Indian tradition as her sister Tara continues the family curry house and her Sikh traditions. False divides and stereotypes dominate this film about familial relationships. Although it wasn't terrible, it was pretty bland.
I'll do a Fest recap as soon as I get some space and some laundry done.