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Thread: NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL, July 1430, 2023

  1. #16
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    GREENHOUSE 비닐하우스 (Lee Sol-hui 2022)

    LEE SOL-HUI: GREENHOUSE 비닐하우스 (2022)


    KIM SEO-HYEONG IN GREENHOUSE

    Dangerous caregiving

    Despite increasing implausibilities as it unfolds, Lee Sol-hui's Greenhouse is an impressive debut - an ingenious piece of deadpan, genre-twisting psychological comedy-horror. It is well-acted, and the director's edits(and she wrote and directed too) neatly cut off scenes before we expect. The screenplay economically interweaves plot lines, the action mixing downbeat, sinister, criminal, and deranged. The milieu has more than a touch of Alzheimer's, a diagnosis cunningly used to blend the unexpected and the dangerous.

    It's all kept plausible and sedate, at least at first. Ending with the torching of a flimsy greenhouse, it's also a bit of an homage to Lee Chang-don, whose Burning has a string of such events. Indeed Neil Young, in his Busan Screen Daily review, suggests Greenhouse is what might happen if Chang-dong were to film a screenplay "co-written by John Waters and Francois Ozon." Greenhouse is enthusiastically morbid, like Waters, and plays with conventionality outrageously, like Ozon.

    At the center of things is Kim Seo-hyeong as Moon-jung, a middle-aged woman with bad luck and a habit of mild self-harm - she tends to smack herself - for which she attends a support group. This group reveals the tone of the whole affair, for there's something a little off about it. The supervisor is a bit too enthusiastic, and leads opening rituals that have a cultish quality. The other participant whom Moon-jung befriends, but shouldn't have, Soon-nam (Ahn So-yo), is an ever-so-slightly ghoulish young women who, so encouraged, sticks to Moon-jung like flypaper.

    As Moon-jung, Kim Seo-hyeong, around whom everything revolves. is frazzled but beautiful. At serene, hopeful moments, she can look radiant. But when cast down she appears stricken and lost. She soldiers through: but maybe she shouldn't, because she gets herself in a whole lot of trouble.

    Moon-jung lives spartanly in a makeshift plastic-encased greenhouse, saving every penny from her carer job with an elderly couple to get a decent apartment to share with her adolescent son when he gets out of juvenile detention. She has an aged mother, who lives in a miserable nursing home. Of the couple she cares for, the wife, Hwa-ok Lee (Shin Yeon-sook), has Alzheimer's, and the husband, Tae-jung (Yang Jae-sung), is diagnosed by a doctor friend as in the early stages of it. But he is already blind. And the wife with Alzheimer's is paranoid and thinks Moon-jung is planning to kill her.

    With someone blind, you can hide something in plain sight - can't you? But how much can you put over on such a person? Even with early Alzheimer's, Tae-jung , played with subtle conviction by veteran actor Yang Jae-sung, perceives more than other people on the screen. He just wishes he didn't.

    It takes a minute to see that Lee's style and this movie aren't downbeat, but, as Young puts it, "consistently and resolutely deadpan."l And when you get that, and relax into the slow movement appropriate the the combination of an ultra-respectful servant-type lady and a set of elderly people - elderly but unpredictable - you're tuned in for the fun. For this is a quietly outrageous film where you wonder what preposterous thing is doing to happen next. And this continues up until the release of Moon-jung's son from juvie, with three of his fellow bad boys, looking for fun themselves, having told their guardians they're getting out the day after, to allow a day to play.

    Greenhouse 비닐하우스 , 100mins., in Korean, debuted at Busan Oct. 2022. It was screened for this review as part of the Jul. 14-30, 2023 NYAFF, where it showed July 22, with a Q&A with Lee Sol-hui. It opens theatrically July 26, 2023 in Korea.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-07-2023 at 04:16 PM.

  2. #17
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    MOUNTAIN WOMAN 山女 (Takeshi Jukunaga 2022)

    TAKESHI FUKUNAGA: MOUNTAIN WOMAN 山女 (2022)


    MASAKI AKAHORI IN MOUNTAIN WOMAN

    For further details see Gavin J. Blair's Tokyo Hollywood Reporter article and Jordan Mintzer's review.

    A rural woman whose village is in its second year of a devastating famine quest for survival gradually transforms into a journey to self-actualization in this haunting 18th-century-set tale of resilience in the face of harsh discrimination.



    Mountain Woman 山女, 100 mins., in Japanese, debuted Oct. 25, 2022 at Tokyo; showed also at Hong Konog Apr. 2, 2023. Screened for this review as part of the New York Asian Film Festival, where it showed at 9:00 PM July 24, 2023.

    Takeshi Fukunaga 福永壮志: Writer-director Takeshi Fukunaga hails from Hokkaido and studied filmmaking in New York City, where he lived for over a decade, taking a film production course at Brooklyn College – after a two-year stint studying in Minnesota. His directorial debut, Out of My Hand (2015, shot in Liberia and NYC), premiered in Berlin’s Panorama section, won the US Best Fiction Award at the LA Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. His second film, Ainu Mosir (2020, shot in Hokkaido), won a Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival and was picked up for worldwide distribution by Netflix. He recently directed episodes of the hit HBO Max series “Tokyo Vice” Season 2 and the upcoming remake of “Shogun" for FX on Hulu.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-07-2023 at 04:17 PM.

  3. #18
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    THE RIB (DIRECTOR'S CUT) 肋骨 (Zhang Wei 2018)

    ZHANG WEI: THE RIB (DIRECTOR'S CUT) 肋骨 2018



    A dutiful, but important film about transgender in China

    Thirty-two-year-old designer Huanyu knows he is a woman born as a man and has a support system of transgender friends, doctors and his straight best friend/roommate. However, sex reassignment surgery legally requires parental approval and Huanyu's pious Christian father views it as a deadly sin. This breakthrough film illustrates the intense stigma and obstacles that the LGBTQ+ community must face in China, offering an inside look at both the marginalized and those who condemn them. Striking black-and-white cinematography with an occasional glimmer of color underlines both the authenticity and hypocrisy portrayed in this stinging real-life drama.

    This film ends with a gathering, hand in hand, of a dozenChinese trans gender persons.
    It is happy to see Huanyu with her father, who has come around and can smile and approve his offspring's becoming who she wants to be. We get a scene in a government office where a functionary arranges with the person to change both name and gender on their ID.

    These are important moments and this may be a significant film for trans people in China. However, the anemic black and white, changed so the transformed trans person at t end can be red where everything else is monochromatic, fits in with a generally drab and lackluster feel. The whole film is a bit of a slog. This is dutiful, well-meaning filmmaking and, with its lengthy and boring Christian episodes, clearly overlong.

    Director: Zhang Wei
    Cast: Huang Jingyi, Yuan Weijie, Deng Gao, Hao Meng
    Languages: Mandarin with English Subtitles
    2018; 143 min.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-07-2023 at 04:14 PM.

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