What’s Up 2020: Week 37

Another week has gone by. A lot of last week was catching up, wrapping up, finalizing and then recharging and organizing. At the same time, as I had mentioned last time, I’m starting to get ready for next month’s marathon because I’ve learned from previous years that its not going to happen once the month starts so might as well start accumulating now, right? Yay to being organized..kind of…

READING

Fangirl

Currently reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Finally getting back into a teensy bit of reading. I’ve had some really bad luck with reading on the bus lately as I always end up being next to someone talking on the phone loudly so its not easy to make progress. Either way, Fangirl is pretty fun so far even if I’m still really early in the book like 20% in or so.

PLAYING

Currently playing: Luna, Cat Force

While I took a little to get myself organized, I’ve been playing Cat Force the most on mobile. Its full of cats and its Match-3 puzzle game and then they meow when they get matched up. Its all kinds of cute and I’m about 50ish levels into it right now. If I know myself, I usually cap out on Match-3 puzzle games at the most at 100 levels if nothing significantly new happens.

I do have a few PC games that I have lined up to play after I finish Luna. We are restructuring Game Warp to get some new direction so that we can get back on track somewhat in time. However, I do have some written pieces to go up soon.

WATCHING

  • Girlfight (2000)
  • Hairspray (2007 rewatch, Review)
  • Skyscraper (2018)
  • The Predator (2018, Review)
  • Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
  • Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004 rewatch)

Its fairly obvious with this list that I’m starting to prepare for the Halloween Marathon at this point. Highlight franchise this year (a marathon structure that I didn’t do the past few years) is going to be the Living Dead franchise. Believe it or not, I’ve only seen Dawn of the Dead remake before out of the whole franchise so you know, catching up with that. There’s also other movies set up in between as you can see as well. It’ll be fun. Less festival coverage means more time to focus on doing a proper marathon this year. My awesome co-host did mention the whole 31 Days of Halloween or something, maybe I’ll do that as double features here and then use that as social media since I really just be promoting the blog better.

BINGING

Go Ahead
  • Chef’s Table: BBQ (Volume 1, 2020)
  • Go Ahead (2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape: Season 2, Love Signal 3, Handsome Siblings, Count Your Lucky Stars, Sing China 2020, Go Newbies, The Irresistible

I finally finished Go Ahead which let me tell you is my 2020 favorite series so far. Tops the list right away. Its a different kind of family story; the cast is incredible; the story is really good and it had me hooked from beginning to end. There’s a few moments that gets me every single time. Its really a treat. Of course, it had to be my highlight series. I’m super behind on TV binge posts for C-Dramas so it’ll come out at some point but I won’t make any promises about how soon. Although to be fair, Chef’s Table taking the BBQ themed path is pretty decent also. Chef’s Table and Ugly Delicious kind of all ride on each other a little. Its still a decent 4 episodes to go through as a docuseries.

On that note, most of the currently is pretty much the same. I’m taking a mini break from Handsome Siblings as its getting really annoying when its not about the actual siblings or younger cast. I couldn’t focus for more than one episode at a time so I decided to give myself a breather and just start something new which happens to be Count My Lucky Stars that I had wanted to start when it first aired in August which at 5 episodes in had me hooked at the 2nd episode. I do say that nostalgia plays a big part seeing as people complain about the female and male leads age difference in real life but they are the new and old version leads of Meteor Garden and the best parts of the new and old respectively. I fangirled over Jerry Yan when Meteor Garden came out and in his 40s, he’s a different kind of handsome right now. Okay..I’m starting to fangirl here so I’ll stop.

In terms of TV though, Great Escape: Season 2 only has one episode left and probably some finale episode or something as they sometimes have, I don’t know right now but its sad to see that end although the next episode is one to look forward to as its a crossover with Who’s the Murderer. Everything else is fairly early or just in catch-up phase at some point so that’s all. Things are definitely settling down on the TV front which is great so I can get back on some Netflix or Shudder series.

That’s it for this week’s recap!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Double Feature: The Platform (2019) & The Predator (2018)

As I took a few days off to get my mind back on track and figure out what needs to be written (because I basically forgot after Fantasia Festival), we’re back on the double feature! As we gear into October’s Halloween Horror month, I’m leaving some horror on Shudder for next month so we’re focusing on the rest of the alphabet with only Netflix choices and maybe some shortcuts along the way.

Picking up where we left off, its time for the P selection. The first is a Netflix movie called The Platform and paired with the fourth movie in the Predator franchise called The Predator. Let’s check it out!

The Platform (2019)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Cast: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay, Zihara Llana

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole. – IMDB

The Platform is a Netflix Original Spanish sci-fi horror film which works a lot like Snowpiercer where its moving horizontal through a train, this one moves in a vertical structure via a platform that passes from the top levels to the lowest levels. As a man gets trapped there, his conversation with his cellmate becomes one where he starts to notice the patterns and the system and wants to fight for a change to actually survive this ordeal. The backstory and mystery of why these people are there and how do they get out is all a key part to the story. Sure, the platform itself plays a big part as the people shift every while from one level to another so that they can experience the upper and lower levels and the ugly and selfish side of humans in the face of survival.

Netflix automatically started the movie in its dubbed English version for myself which was a decent experience. It would be interesting to watch it again in its original audio. Overall, The Platform is a pretty good film. It builds up on the mystery and the intensity of the situation pretty well and has a decent pacing and execution throughout.

The Predator (2018)

Director (and co-writer): Shane Black

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled scientist can prevent the end of the human race. – IMDB

There are days I wonder why we just keep going back to making more and more of a franchise when it should’ve been left at the first movie. It sometimes feels like Predator is one of those situation, maybe because I’m also not a huge fan of this franchise in comparison to Alien franchise, I guess. Although, credit where its due, Predators (review) was a pretty fun one even though I think some people wasn’t a big fan. Back on track to this one, the story here is far-fetched and it runs rather off track the further it goes. The only thing that worked for it was the ragtag team and the twist of the concept of the predators end-game although the whole “twist” of what they wanted wasn’t exactly a twist but fairly obvious.

I don’t hate on this completely since I thought Olivia Munn’s character was fairly resourceful and there’s some familiar faces with Thomas Jane and Keegan-Michael Key, two people that I rather enjoy in movies. Then there’s the little boy played by Jacob Tremblay who right away is different but intelligent for his age. The characters do work rather well. Its a pity that the story gets a little odd especially when the Predator world starts showing up with alien pups which was supposed to add some humor which it kind of did at times especially with whatever it would fetch back.

Its a fairly flat experience. Its not good but not horrible either. There are some glaring issues with it for sure but then, the director definitely has a special place for this movie as it puts in some references to the original film (or at least a very obvious one).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Hiking: La Montée du Dragon (Parc National du Mont-Mégantic – Secteur Franceville)

Our monthly Friday off came around and the weather worked very much to our favor with the temperature being much cooler and comfortable for hiking. We decided to go back to Mont Mégantic National Park, that we went to two years ago HERE, except this time, we went to the other sector called Franceville to check out other trails. We did an easy to intermediate trail La Montée du Dragon plus a little extra viewpoint. You can find the link to Mont-Megantic National Park HERE.

As with many of these trails, this one is not too clear on the map as its a different name. However, it passes through two different trails and stops at two viewpoints (maybe three if you count one of them as one).

Promenade du Ruisseau

Parc National du Mont-Megantic
Promenade du Ruisseau

Promenade du Ruisseau is a short and easy trail that is absolutely relaxing and beautiful as the trail runs along a stream the entire way and has very little elevation. Its about the most calming type of trail with a lot of green ferns and lush plants all around. Its a pleasant little trail that leads out to connect to Sentier Des Cimes, which is where we do part of the trail.

Sentier des Cimes

Sentier des Cimes – Parc National du Mont-Megantic

We only did a part of the Sentier des Cimes. Its an intermediate trail since it has a lot of gradual elevation. Its also very beautiful so its a nice little adventure. Since its a SEPAQ, there is an obvious difference in maintenance of the trail compared to the other trail network that we had done for the previous trails this year. We even got to see some leaves starting to change colors.

Viewpoint: Repos Du Dragon

Repos du Dragon

The first viewpoint is Repos du Dragon which would mark the end of the Montée du Dragon trail. It has a little bit of obstruction with the trees and such so the view from the camera doesn’t look too good. However, it is a pretty nice view overall.

Viewpoint: Gardien des Méandres

Parc National du Mont-Megantic
Gardien des Méandres

Our final destination was one viewpoint over to Garden des Méandres which is almost one kilometre further. The view is a little more open than the previous one and a nice little spot to take a break before deciding to head back.

Halte du Vieux-Barrage

Before cutting back before the connecting point between Sentier des Cimes and Promenade du Ruisseau, there’s a little path over a bridge to the other trail (Sentier des Escarpements, I think) and it should be the Halte du Vieux-Barrage, which has this lovely little path over the stream. Its a nice little spot that we took a few pictures before heading back on the Promenade du Ruisseau to head back to the parking lot.

Overall, Our trail came to about 6 kms altogether and took a little about 2.5 hours. Mont Megantic National Park offers some fabulous trails. The observatory is still closed due to the pandemic, I believe however, the trails whether in that sector or this one has a lot to offer. We already have plans to go back and finish the Sentier des Cimes and some of the other trails when we’re a little more in shape to tackle the intermediate and difficult trails. This area is full of beautiful viewpoints and lush green trails.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Shorts Round-up

Like every year, the final post for Fantasia Festival 2020 is going to be a short film round-up.

Abracitos (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Tony Morales

Cast: Virginia Gomez, Beatriz Salas, Carmen Salas

This Spanish horror short running at 11 minutes is set in the bedroom of a little girl when a phone call rings and the two sisters picks up the phone to realize that there’s something outside the little hideaway. While there is a little bit of campiness in the design of the “monster” on hand, the execution and atmosphere is done so well that it is very creepy and unsettling of tension build-up as anticipation of something happening builds up more and more of what will appear and all ends in a startling ending.

Abracitos is an incredible short executed with such a strong sense of horror that just makes you cringe in your seat waiting for what will happen next but never actually knowing when it will happen.

Downs of the Dead (2019)

Director (and co-writer): Even Husby Grodahl

Cast: David Vekony, Svein Andre Hofso Myhre, Eili Harboe, Ivar Lykke, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Elg Elgesem, Giulia Hellesdatter Roi, Trond Halbo

Running at 23 minutes, Downs of the Dead is a horror comedy set in a home for the intellectually disabled when the zombie apocalypse hits. The nurse tries to find a way out with the residents as the people around start turning one by one. The comedy elements of Downs of the Dead is pretty good. The incorporation of the different character groups with both the residents and the nurse’s collaboration to escape taking a different angle while using the visiting music band and the boss who gets turned into another element of added danger. Its all rather entertaining to watch and runs at a decent pacing. Horror comedy set during zombie apocalypse is really a been there done that sort of premise however its characters and setting is really what gives it the unique edge.

Suspense (2020)

Director (and writer): Ben Burghart & Jacob Burghart

Cast: Robert Coppage III, Jelani Talib

Running at a swift 7 minutes, Suspense starts off with an army pilot caught in the canopy of trees after he escapes the crash. As another army pilot reunites with him on land, they realize that something is chasing them in the shadows. Playing a little like Predator, this story takes a turn for the worse really quickly as the invisible enemy is tracked mostly by its sound with the aid of the camera. Its a fast-paced and excitingly intense short film that delivers on executing some thrilling build-up.

Dead Birds (2018)

Director (and co-writer): Johnny Kenton

Cast: Shannon Tarbet, Tara Fitzgerald, Luke Newberry, Synnove Karlsen, Lydia Wilson

A failing teenage badminton player at a Catholic Girls School is visited by a Saint – who agrees to help her if she’ll complete three tasks for him. Dead Birds is a twisted Super Natural Black Comedy about competitive mother daughter relationships, losing your religion and learning how far you’d go to get what you want. – IMDB

Running over 30 minutes, Dead Birds is one of the longer short films in this batch and also that I’ve seen to date. Its a dark comedy that elevates in its intensity gradually and also a horror comedy that doesn’t use zombies but rather the psyche of a badminton player striving for success and recognition to move up before a big competition. Its quite a wild ride with a good execution on the humor (at least for myself) and all builds up to this fairly alarming twist ending that becomes a little apparent by the final moments right before it as things all piece together from the various conversations. Its a fun and engaging short film that feels very different from any that I’ve seen before.

Homo ErecTattoos (2020)

Director (and writer): Kim Tae-woo

A terrible accident leaves a young soldier horribly scarred, but his rediscovery of art heals his wounded soul, in this brief but powerful animated documentary. – Fantasia Festival

If there was any short film that’s unique, it would definitely be this 8 minute South Korean animated short film. One of the most standout points is how it uses its black and white art style to execute each of its scenes as the pictures morph into one and another to progress through the story of a soldier recovering. There’s such a powerful story told here while still keeping it stylish and visually gripping. Its a movie experience that shouldn’t be missed.

What’s Up 2020: Week 36

Another week is gone and Fantasia Festival is behind us now! All the content is up at this point even if there was a week delay in getting mostly everything done. Next week, things should show some signs of returning back to normal as I start sorting through the backlog and what needs to be done as well, start planning for next month’s Halloween Marathon!

READING

Fangirl

Currently reading: Fangirl

I’m just going to confess right now that I did zero reading this week. None whatsoever. I was either watching movies for Fantasia or using every spare moment to write. I’ve also been going through some strange insomnia so it hasn’t helped the energy or productivity. Reading will resume as I do want to keep going with Fangirl once I’ve recharged my Kindle again.

PLAYING

Luna

Currently playing: Luna

The same for reading as gaming basically, which was pretty much expected. Luna is still the game that I’m going to return to very soon. I didn’t get much time for gaming.

WATCHING

  • Homo ErecTattoos (short 2020)
  • Bring Me Home (2019, Review)
  • A Witness Out of the Blue (2019, Review)
  • Legally Declared Dead (2019, Review)
  • Perdida (2019, Review)
  • Chasing Dream (2019, Review)

I ended the last few days of Fantasia Festival powering through a lot of on demand films. It was a bit intense but all the films were pretty fun to watch. My favorites for the week had to go to A Witness Out of the Blue followed very closely with Chasing Dream. Both had their own style that was a lot of fun to watch. Both of the films, I’d gladly watch again if I had the chance (fingers crossed that Netflix might pick it up).

Talking about Fantasia coverage, I do have to to say, the only post that hasn’t gone up is for Fantasia shorts round-up. There were some impressive short films this year that I saw and no doubt the one from this week’s recap, Homo ErecTattoos was incredibly unique.

BINGING

  • Gagman (Season 1, 2020)
  • Little Forest (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Great Escape: Season 2, Go Newbies, Go Ahead, Chef’s Table: BBQ, The Irresistible, Sing China 2020, Handsome Siblings, The Coming One:SuperBand, BLK946

I finally sat down to finish Little Forest which was a charming little show. Its always relaxing to watch little kids with celebrity adults in nature. Plus, I liked the celebrities involved so I had a fun little dynamic. However, highlight show that ended would be Gagman. That show was a treat every single week. I can’t say that I’m particularly happy with the rundown of the Gag6 (top 6 Gagman/Gagwoman winners) since I’m sure there are other people there that would be much more entertaining but its an alright mix of people.

Some of these shows have kind of fallen into the background right now as I only have a pair of eyes that I can’t watch movies and TV at the same time. I have some general shows that I always like to catch when they release like Great Escape 2 which should be ending soon along with the Master Version (which I never list here but its a show with the same escape room with little changes but a younger cast which are pretty much have their own set of intellectual skills).

Go Ahead is one of my favorite dramas this year and its nearing its final few episodes so I’ve been saving up the episodes so that I can binge it in one shot since if its anything like other series, the last 10 episodes will be a torture to have to watch one or two episodes and then wait for the next day’s to release. Because of that, I finally started Handsome Siblings which has been made so many times that its hard to wonder whether it’ll live up to the last one, which it took a little while to get into but I’m about halfway and its starting to get into a rhythm that I like. Aside from that, I keep forgetting to talk about BLK946 which is a show about trends and fashion/design while I’ve also started watching Sing China 2020 which is like American Idol but the Chinese version but hey Nicholas Tse is a judge/mentor so I’m a little late to the party but better late than never.

That’s it for this week’s recap!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Fantasia Festival 2020: A Witness Out of the Blue (犯罪现场, 2019)

A Witness Out of the Blue (犯罪现场, 2019)

A Witness Out of the Blue

Director (and writer): Chi-Keung Fung

Cast: Louis Koo, Jessica Hsuan, Louis Cheung, Patrick Tam, Philip Keung, Sam Lee, Andy On, Fiona Sit, Cherry Ngan

A Witness Out of the Blue is 2019 crime thriller about a murder of a member of a bank robber group that may have gone array as they hunt down their leader with only one witness to the crime: a parrot. One of the best things about Fantasia Festival is hearing director’s talk about their film. A nice touch to A Witness Out of the Blue was the director having a little message about how the movie came to be and how it all started with a parrot. Director and writer Chi-Keung Fung definitely is more renowned for his writing credits with involvement in Stephen Chow movies like Shaolin Soccer and The Mermaid. A Witness Out of the Blue has the hook of using a parrot as a witness and how the cop will use it to his advantage to learn about how a parrot communicates or learns the language and can have the intellect of a 5 year old child and its a fun element for sure. The story itself does create a lot of twists and turns that manages to lead down a rather interesting chase. There’s a bit of tension and a bit of humor and the mystery definitely takes everyone for a chase with the characters. The ending isn’t exactly never been done before (but I say what its similar to, that would be a huge spoiler so I’m going to avoid that). Whether pacing or execution, A Witness Out of the Blue is an intriguing thriller.

A Witness Out of the Blue has a stellar cast. Its consisted primarily with the once righteous but now easygoing cop Detective Lam that everyone sees as useless who sees through the case in another angle played by Louis Cheung who is more known for his music career than his acting career even if he has a lot of Cantonese voice acting credits to his name however delivers quite the performance. Lam starts suspecting his upper level boss played by Philip Keung (a familiar face at this year’s Fantasia for sure with his appearance in Sheep Without a Shepherd HERE) who holds a grudge towards the bank robbers for killing another cop. At the same time, Lam needs to still try to catch the bank robber mastermind Wong by the character played by Louis Koo but always seems to be one step behind as the robber crew starts being hunted down as well making him look more and more suspicious. There is no doubt that Louis Koo’s career is full of crime thrillers at this point and he is the perfect candidate for this role especially since he becomes something of an antihero. At this point, Wong hides out at this senior care home managed by a visually disabled woman played by Jessica Hsuan where we see the more human side of Wong in their interaction.

There is no doubt that Chi-Keung Fung is a great writer since every character in this thriller has its purpose. The characters all play off each other as detective Lam goes looking back at the grudges linked to robbery as he questions supporting characters played by Fiona Sit, Andy On and Patrick Tam. Each of these characters have their own stories whether its a flawed detective or a mastermind who wants to find the truth of the death of his team but every step takes on a different turn. Put in the equation of the parrot being another character and its all quite the whirlwind ride.

A Witness Out of the Blue has a lot to offer. It tries to be a little different and how it starts with a parrot and uses its characters all fit well together. Its a crime thriller that has some action and comedy blended together to become a little more mix genre. With both a stellar cast and a fun little plot and some great comedy points, it all actually fits together in a well-paced, engaging and entertaining sort of crime thriller even if the ending isn’t as clever as the director might think it is but somehow this still felt a little like a breath of fresh air in the sea of crime thrillers that come out every year.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Chasing Dream (我的拳王男友, 2019)

Chasing Dream (我的拳王男友, 2019)

Director: Johnnie To

Cast: Jacky Heung, Keru Wang

Tiger, an aspiring MMA fighter, meets young Du, whose dream is to become a singer. Together they go from audition to audition as they try to get Du into the talent show Perfect Diva. And at the same time, Tiger tries to quit the ring – but leaving turns out to be harder than expected. – MyDramaList

With 70 director credits under his belt according to IMDB, Johnnie To has a huge array of movies under his belt spreading over many genres even if a lot of people will first remember mostly his action or crime titles. Coming back from a 3 year hiatus, Johnnie To’s latest offering is a sport and music comedy about chasing dreams. As it follows two people in debt to the same loan shark ending up living together to pay off their own debts doing random jobs while each pursuing their own dream. Tiger (Jacky Heung) fights these cage battles for the loan shark boss who ends up using his roommate Cuckoo Du as his bargaining chip and he ends up giving in each time to help her achieve her dream to win Perfect Diva, a singing competition. Something about this story is a little silly and been there done that and yet there’s this charming element about how its all put together especially with the array of characters, the comedy point and how its a little bit silly at times being rather reminescent of the 90s Hong Kong comedy.

Chasing Dream

Johnnie To doing this sort of movie adds quite a bit of charm no doubt. He brings in some great comedy points while executing some incredible scenes that feel a little over the top and yet manages to keep it entertaining. Of course, comedies are always subjective so what works for might not work for you. The use of the music element actually works out all the ways especially during a specific singing training scene to prepare Cuckoo for her competition as Tiger calls in a bunch of favors to be her band while trying to help her find her diva style that would fit her as he wheels in food for hotpot while throwing out different popular American singers and Cuckoo imitates their performance and singing style. It sounds a little ridiculous but actually the scene works out really well. All that culminates to a huge Bollywood style musical flash mob scene that is absolutely awesome. However, the movie isn’t all fun and laughs but still packs in a lot of drama especially on the side of Tiger as his boxing matches get more intense and the matches become harder to watch as his character really does connect and stand out the most in the entire film. Jacky Heung shines in this role as Tiger.

To be honest, Chasing Dream is almost back to the basics. Its a simple storyline. The plot points are fairly predictable. Inspirational tales about chasing dreams and going through a lot of obstacles has been done tons of times. The relationship between Cuckoo and Tiger is unique and its because of these two characters that the story stands out so much. The ridiculous comedy, the bright and entertaining bits balances well with the drama of highlighting what is the most important. Especially with a final ending scene that gives major homage to Rocky. Its hard to not slowly be taken over by this movie but then I’m also a sucker for music and chasing dreams movie so watching a movie titled exactly what it is seems like a solid win and Chasing Dream surprisingly not only met my expectations and exceeded it.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Legally Declared Dead (死因無可疑, 2019)

Legally Declared Dead (2019)

Director: Wai Yuen Kim

Cast: Carlos Chan, Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Karena Lam, Kathy Yuen

Based on Japanese novel Black House by Yusuke Kishi, Legally Declared Dead is 2019 Hong Kong psychological thriller that centers its story at an early point of understanding a quote: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” It takes the angle of an insurance broker Yip (Carlos Chan) who is assigned a client that asks him to discuss his policy at his home but ends up witnessing his son hanging from the ceiling and the case ends up being deemed a suicide and his parents get the insurance money. Struggling between hallucinations from PTSD and believing that the father Tak killed his own son with the scheme to get the insurance money for his own purposes, he goes onto his own investigation before Tak gets to his wife Ling who also has a huge insurance policy.

Legally Declared Dead is a good premise. While I’ve never read the source material, there is something about following a normal person that finds this newfound desire to seek out the truth relentlessly despite the apparent abnormal personality from Tak and Ling. The story is at its most gripping when its looking watching Yip pursue this family’s past from where the couple met and piecing together Tak and Ling’s story. There’s a great execution element done where the past blends into the present with each shot as it shares the location. Its a very cool maneuver to keep the scene flowing smoothly. However, the movie does have a secondary focus on Yip’s mental state falling apart as he starts seeing nightmare scenes like the pet praying mantis giant and attacking him and his girlfriend for example. The CGI is rather lacking for the most part and doesn’t quite flow as well. Its meant to be creepy and yet it seems to not quite hit the mark especially as its meant to build up on Yip’s character while bringing up a key point of the dangers of praying mantis female and male together.

Legally Declared Dead

There is no doubt that where this movie excels is the performance of Tak and Ling by Anthony Chau-Sang Wong and Karena Lam. Its fairly early that there is something wrong with Tak and the story gives cues of different probably reasons for his abnormal behavior. Anthony Wong embraces this role so well especially as its such a helpless character by the end that creates a lot of unsettling moments throughout the film using actions and how he interacts with other people and then with Ling being a key point. Karena Lam delivers a surprising role as Ling. She plays a woman who has a visual disability that appears like she has settled for Tak for whatever reason that soon becomes apparent as we follow their side of the story that she has a manipulative character. Tak and Ling are characters with depth and twists. Its unsettling and psychological. Its a little sad that they are paired up with Carlos Chan who does an alright job as Yip but in comparison, his character lacks a lot more substance and feels fairly one-dimensional. Luckily, they also have a great supporting cast with Stephen Au, Kai Chi Liu and Catherine Chau.

Packed with a good premise and some outstanding powerhouse performances from Wong and Lam, Legally Declared Dead is relatively successful as a horror/psychological thriller. Its execution and pacing does build tension very well. It gives both side of the story and as each characters mindset and grand scheme comes to light one step at a time, it becomes more and more unsettling. Not to mention, the cinematography plays a big part using parallels to show the past and the truth of a story being told while also playing with light and dark scenes and the whole concept of good and bad people being respectively weak and power. There are a few decent use of psychological elements especially as Yip’s girlfriend plays the role of a team that looks into criminal behavior. Its a bit of a convenient setup but for the most part, Legally Declared Dead does fit together all its elements well enough to be gripping and engaging.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Wildland (Kød & blod, 2020)

Wildland (Kød & blod, 2020)

Wildland

Director: Jeanette Nordahl

Cast: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Besir Zeciri, Elliott Crosset Hove, Joachim Fjelstrup, Sofie Torp, Carla Philip Roder

Ida moves in with her aunt and cousins after the tragic death of her mother in a car accident. The home is filled with love, but outside of the home, the family leads a violent and criminal life. – IMDB

Wildland is a Danish drama about a family involved in crime witnessed through the eyes of a cousin that moves in after her mother passes away. Through her eyes, Wildland shows the dynamic of the family matriarchy lead by a doting mother who runs her underground business where her three songs help her with the dirty work of chasing down money owed from people and doing some scare tactics. At the same time, Ida starts having to tag along with her cousins even though each one treats her in a different way and slowly accepts her well. As with any family drama, there is a certain level of dysfunction whether its the overbearing love or the protectiveness or a judgement (and disagreement) of the girlfriends. There’s a lot that slowly reveals as the mother’s smile might hide a lot more and everyone has something deeper brewing in them. As Ida gets dragged deeper into this family and this crime world, a new side of her starts emerging as more of her personality comes out as well.

Wildland

Wildland executes the family drama with a lot of details and dialogue as well as the most confused feeling towards the mother character who seems to still treat her boys like children and yet gives them some important tasks. Every single character has their own unique personality. Ida pieces together the film because for the most part, she plays the role of an observer and doesn’t talk too much however she has a lot of little subtle moments that gives her some depth. Where the movie does the best is the story of the mother role played by Sidse Babett Knudsen who knocks it out of the park. Her mother role is a little unsettling as she is very close with her son and incredibly controlling of their every choice in life while also having this power woman sort of role to hold up all of her business.

As with her character, the second point is her dynamic and interaction with each of her boys. The oldest son, Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup) plays someone who has found his place with his mother who still stays at home and built his own family so has some kind of harmony while being more of a manager role to his brothers. Mads (Besir Zeciri) is the brother seems the most out of control in his own world who plays video games and is a little weird. The last son David (Elliott Crosset Hove) is the plot point that drives a lot of conflict as his mother disapproves of him and yet he can’t seem to break out of his mother’s grasp to have his own life apart of this crime world. David carries a lot of hidden messages in his character and as things start piling up, he starts having some distance. What winds up to be a shocking ending especially on how things close out the story.

As more Danish films pop up in film festivals, its starting to become obvious that there are some upcoming powerhouse actors/actresses and directors in Denmark. Wildland tells what might feel like an expected tale of crime and family drama and yet, there’s a lot of subtlety to the performances and some fantastic visual cues used in the cinematography to boost the scene’s tone and mood. The characters are crafted with a lot of care and still leaves room for its audience to connect some of the dots and delivers some surprises as well. There’s a lot to like about Wildland.

Music Obsessions – September 2020

Time for the next Music Obsessions! Its September and the beginning of Labor Day Weekend! Fun times, right? I’ve been bombarding everyone with movie reviews lately so all wordy posts in general so lets just get right to it and check out some fun music!

Warm Sunshine 暖阳光 – 吴季峰 Jifeng Wu

One of the songs from the Mr. Honesty is definitely one of my favorite since its all kinds of positive vibes. Its all happy and fun to listen to which is exactly what I’ve been wanting to listen to.

红眼睛 Red Eyes – Rarpid望江晴 & JD & 葛兆恩 Kodii
(“Listen Up/ Rap Star” Team Battle Performance)

There’s probably isn’t another performance part of Rap Star/ Listen Up variety show that I’ve listened to more on repeat. These three put together a stellar show packed with a love triangle story line and some great lyrics. If only they had a version which was just what they were saying when the mic is off to add to the actual performance, that would be so cool. All three are such good rap star contestants that I’ve love to see them get further. Of course, JD ended up winning 1st place in the show already so he’s going to places.

Mojito – Jay Chou

I’m 3 months late to this Jay Chou party but this song was a reminder that I need to get back to J-Style Trip. Its filmed in the streets of Havana, Cuba and has such a fun vibe to the story with lyrics that compare some romantic lyrics comparing a lover to Havana and all its highlights. This song is upbeat and awesome! Not to mention the music video also has a special appearance with Alan Kuo.

Rain 雨- 沈以誠 Eason Shen
(Song from TV Series “Go Ahead” OST)

I haven’t had a chance to fangirl over Go Ahead which is my latest drama binge as its playing right now updated with new episodes everyday. That series is just all kinds of feels. I’ve cried and laughed, sweet and bitter times and there’s still 10 episodes to go as I’m writing this up. This song is my favorite that happens to play in some of the really memorable moments fittingly. I especially love the piano ballad and the lyrics…well, that’s everything isn’t it? Its my current mega obsession both the song and the TV series.

宇宙的宇 阳光的阳 – JD
(Winning Performance of Rap Star 2020)

The finals of Rap Star was really awesome with a lot of amazing performances. I had a hard time deciding which one to use since the 2nd Trouble.Z and 3rd place KC also had some awesome songs. While I think this one won on the song being about JD changing his usual style and taking a more melodic route with a rap song and lyrics for his son about giving his name which meant that he would give him the universe and the sunlight, which is rather touching and warm. I mean, how to do beat a song like that? Not to mention that JD was no doubt going to win this season since he had a lot more stable and solid technical skills and production skills than the other contestants in general.

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
What have you been listening to?