Friday, December 8, 2017

Under the Sun (2015) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 36
Movie Name/Year: Under the Sun (2015)
Tagline: None
Genre: Documentary
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production Companies: Vertov Studio, Saxonia Entertainment, Hypermarket Film
Producer: Simone Baumann, Vit Klusak, Petr Kubica, Natalia Manskaya, Nataly Manskya, Filip Remunda
Director: Vitaliy Manskiy
Writer: Vitaliy Manskiy
Actors: Lee Zin-Mi, Yu-Yong, Hye-Yong, Oh-Gyong, Choi Song-min, Lim Soo-Yong, Su-Yong
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: Shot over a year under strict government control, this film reveals the conflicted life of a young girl chosen to join North Korea’s Children’s Union.

Selina’s Point of View:
My first thought when watching this was that it didn’t seem like a documentary. Then I read the IMDb description and saw that it was labeled a ‘propaganda’ documentary. That makes much more sense.

‘Propaganda’ felt like a more honest description of the film.

I get the point of continuing to film between scripted parts. It’s to show the face of what propaganda looks like when there’s brainwashing involved… and to show the little bits of truth they were able to show. Still, I found it unbearably boring.

Even if I could have watched it without subtitles, it still wouldn’t have made anything any better.

There was absolutely no substance to Under the Sun. I might as well have been a kid in that class, staring out the window because the teacher couldn’t hold my interest. It was just a really long mandatory middle school assembly.

The attempts to be harrowing simply didn’t work. The only thing I’m left knowing about North Korea that I didn’t know before is that it must be boring as all hell to live there as long as you’re not blatantly causing any issues.

Cat’s Point of View:
Our foreign film days are generally extra random, but I think this one takes the cake.

I rather enjoy the occasional documentary, if the subject is interesting enough. I grew up watching shows like Wild America (1982-1994) and Nova (1974-), and I still enjoy them. I also love the shark-centered shows during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. I’ve even been known to watch an episode or so of those programs that show you how things are made.

While I didn’t have any lofty expectations for this particular documentary, I certainly hoped that it would be interesting. It’s not every day that you get a chance to take a peek into the mysterious and xenophobic North Korea. Given current world events, it’s also quite topical.

Sadly, I was rather disappointed. Aside from being rather disturbed by the propaganda aspect as it pertained to the children, it just couldn’t keep my attention. It’s abhorrent that the country actually teaches its children to hate.

Some of the scenery was interesting, as well as the peek into one of their festivals. The costuming employed was colorful but the droning on about the ‘great’ leaders and such frankly made the whole thing a giant snooze-fest. Not only did my mind wander, but I think I actually dozed off for a minute out of boredom.

I appreciate what I think the film-makers were trying to do here, but this documentary was dry and underwhelming.

Speech Available: Korean
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore - 81/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 7.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating1.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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