Tag Archives: Sundance Film Festival 2013

Stoker (2013)

26 Jan

Park Chan-wook has proved himself to be Korea’s version of Quentin Tarantino.  With a slew of acclaimed films under his belt (ThirstLady Vengeance) including a revenge cult classic (Oldboy), he is no stranger to the violent and macabre.  Stoker, his first English-language film, is a bit more on the tamer side, but by far his most intellectual and thought-provoking work.

The story revolves around an 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), whose father has passed away in a bizarre car wreck.  His wife, played by Nicole Kidman, arranges for her mysterious brother-in-law Charlie (Matthew Goode) to stay with the family in order to help them cope.  India is skeptical of her uncle whom she barley knows, and grows more suspicious when rumors float around saying that he is sleeping with her own mom.  To say anything more at this point would be spoiling the mystery behind this elusive family who all have their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

At its heart, Stoker is a psychological thriller, and the best kind you can ask for.  The limited amount of characters and slow pacing of the movie give the audience time to reflect and peer into the minds of the Stoker family.  The film is beautifully shot with eerie accompanying music composed by Clint Mansel.  Though it lacks the blood and carnage of previous movies directed by Park, Stoker is one of the best films of its genre I have seen. It is a suspenseful ride with more twists than your typical rollercoaster including an ending that blew me away.  I loved every minute of it.

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Rating: 8/10 

 
Similar to: Black Swan, The Shining, Psycho
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Newlyweeds (2013)

20 Jan

So I just got back from seeing Newlyweeds, the first feature film by director Shaka King, at the Sundance Film Festival 2013.  The film, being tagged as “the stoner’s romantic comedy” is really anything unlike I have seen before.  Take one part feel-good comedy, one-part romantic drama, and one-part stoner/drug movie and you get something like this.  It really is just a mess of ideas, characters and events that somehow tae shape and provide an interesting conclusion when the film is done.

Newlyweeds is centered around an African-American couple named Lyle and Nina.  Nina works at a local museum, and Lyle at a appliance-rental service.  We watch as the highs and lows of their relationship culminate and crash while they puff their hard-earned cash away by constantly smoking weed.  And there is A LOT of weed-smoking in this movie.

Their relationship takes a turn when a figure named Chino comes into play and tries to get the attention of Nina.  Meanwhile, lyle is struggling with his job trying to find the balance between being a supportive boyfriend and maintaining his drug habits.

While it is a drama of sorts, there is a hefty amount of comedy that weaves its way in and out of the film (usually involving your typical jokes about marijuana), but the laughs never really take center stage like they should.  Instead the film focuses too much on building events that never really take off.  In return, this leaves the film anti-climatic and emotionless.

While the wonderful dialogue and acting give the film a truly authentic feel, there is really nothing going on in the script for me to pay close attention too. The film feels more like a collage of short episodes, rather than an over-arching narrative and the ending just feels flat and unpolished. It is worth seeing, but nothing remarkable.

 

rating 6/10 

 

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