Friday, April 21, 2017

Hope (2013) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 24
Movie Name/Year: Hope (2013)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: NR
Distributing Companies: At Entertainment, Musashino Entertainment, Lotte Entertainment
Producer: Unknown
Director: Joon-ik Lee
Writer: Ji-hye Kim
Actors: Lee Re, Kyoung-gu Sul, Ji-won Uhm, Hae-suk Kim, Mi-ran Ra, Sang-ho Kim, Jin-Sung Yang
Stunt Doubles: Unknown

Blurb from Netflix: After 8-year-old So-won narrowly survives a brutal sexual assault, her family labors to help her heal while coping with their own rage and grief.

Selina’s Point of View:
That movie was the most difficult movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

It wasn’t difficult because it was bad, just the opposite. When you take a horrific subject and have it acted flawlessly and written just as well… it becomes something in a completely different league.

Sure, when you watched Bambi’s mother die, you probably cried. When you saw the ending of SLC Punk! (1998) you cried, too. This was a very different kind of terrified crying. It’s as difficult to swallow as it is, because it could happen. That is the scariest thing in the world. It’s even based on a true story.

When I read the Netflix blurb I was sickened and so worried that the film would focus on the actual assault that sparked the events. I cannot even express how relieved I was that it didn’t. Right up until the meat of the story, I was just about shivering in my seat and waiting for the worst of it.

If you are able to be triggered at all (even if it takes a lot) by the subject of sexual assault or harm to children, this film is going to poke at those triggers. The director tried to take this subject and give it a slightly different treatment. He focused on the family healing after the fact and tried to instill a sense of hope into the story. He focused on the humanity that surrounds the brutality of monsters.

He did succeed, but for me… it was still too much.

I feel ill. I have a history with sexual assault, I was thirteen when something happened to me. As a result, sexual assault will likely always be a trigger, especially when it involves a child. The trial scenes brought me back to a horrible time in my life that I hate reliving on a significant scale.

Hope was phenomenal. As great as this film was, however, I regret ever watching it. It’s going to take hours for my shaking to subside and I’ll likely have some emotional weirdness for the rest of the night.

Cat’s Point of View:
When the dice gave us this movie, I’ll admit I was filled with a significant amount of dread for watching it. I don’t do well with sexual assault themes in general. The fact that the story centers on such a horrific thing happening to a little girl just made me feel ill. It was an act of will for me to keep the movie playing with it evoking such a visceral reaction.

I get it, though.

The film was based on a true story. This unspeakable tragedy happened to a real little girl in December of 2008. If she could live beyond what really happened to her, then I could get over my own sensitivity and empathetic gut-punched feeling and watch this movie based on her story.

All the same, this movie tore me into a million little pieces. Ugly crying happened, I won’t lie.

With a subject matter this heavy and already walking a fine line, I think they handled this film wonderfully. The approach the production took was tasteful and showed the great care that was taken to tell a story of growth, hope, and community impact rather than exploiting the misery.

I really can’t think of anything negative to say. The cast was phenomenal, and yes – the subtitles flowed smoothly and were in contrasting color. I don’t know a word of Korean; so, if there were any discrepancies, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

My hope is that this film touches hearts and gives courage to victims of assault to find courage to step forward and seek help and healing.

I won’t be watching this wrenching yet heartwarming movie again – but it’s definitely not because of the quality of the film.

Speech Available: Korean
Subtitles Available: English, French, German, Korean, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 86%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 8.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

P.S. Netflix lists the movie under its original title, Hope, but it also goes by So-won and Wish. On IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, the film is Wish (2013).

P.S. U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673. If you’re from out of country, they may be able to direct you to a hotline in your area.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

7 Chinese Brothers (2015)

Number Rolled: 80
Movie Name/Year: 7 Chinese Brothers (2015)
Tagline: Failure has a new overachiever.
Genre: Comedy (Bullshit!)
Length: 74 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: 8750 Films, Failro House Productions
Producer: Molly Christie Benson, Kevin Corrigan, Seana Flanagan, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Nancy Schafer
Director: Bob Byington
Writer: Bob Byington
Actors: Jason Schwartzman, Olympia Dukakis, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta, Stephen Root, Arrow Schwartzman, Jimmy Gonzales, John Gatins, Jonathan Togo, Josh Meyer, Ted Beck, Chris Doubek, Grover Coulson, Alex Karpovsky
Stunt Coordinator: Jeff Schwan

Blurb from Netflix: An apathetic slacker sponging off his grandmother drifts into another dead-end job, unaware that a monster crush is about to change his life.

Selina’s Point of View:
I need to say something. Hipsters get a few things right, most of those things pretty much revolve around food. That said, the hipster trend is the single most annoying sub-culture that I have ever come across. And I have known baby ravers and emos. As much as I can tolerate hipsters having a hand in my food, they need to fuck right off when it comes to my movies.

That’s what this entire film was. It was seventy-four minutes of pure hipster bullshit. Even the title of the film was stupid.

I get it, but I hate it.

The blurb Netflix put out there for this film is also bullshit. Nothing actually changes in the film. The beginning happens. Some shit happens in the middle… and the end of it could have happened without any of the middle. 7 Chinese Brothers could have gotten its point across through a seven-minute short.

In fact, I thought something was about to happen at one point in the film, and I got intrigued… but then it didn’t and I went back to banging the back of my head against my seat and praying for a lightning strike to zap my fucking television screen.

In case I haven’t been clear enough, I don’t recommend this film.

Cat’s Point of View:
It’s ironic that the star of 7 Chinese Brothers, Jason Schwartzman (Marie Antoinette, Moonrise Kingdom, The Overnight), was in an HBO series called Bored to Death (2009-2011) – because that’s exactly what this movie did for me. I might still be kicking, but that’s an hour and sixteen minutes of excruciating boredom that I will never get back.

I was hoping that this movie would be something else. When we were rolling to determine our movie for Wednesday, I thought that this was maybe going to be some sort of action movie. Yeah, I know. I fell into the trap of assuming stereotypes. I hear that nun-looking bell-ringer chanting ‘shame’ behind me right now. So, I guess the movie’s actual plot was a punishment for my faux pas.

All the same, driving through an automated car wash would be more entertaining than this movie was.

There was so much awkwardness in this film. It was heavy with it. The time seemed to creep by. It felt like I’d never get out of this yawn-inducing cringe-fest.

On the bright side? The dog was cute. I imagine they saved a lot of money on trainer fees and whatnot since it was Schwartzman’s own pet.

I’m so glad I don’t have to watch this one ever again.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 43%
Metascore - 56/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.4/10
IMDB Score – 5.7/10

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

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

P.S. Small after credits scene.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Heatstroke (2013)

Number Rolled: 39
Movie Name/Year: Heatstroke (2013)
Tagline: Run. Fight. Survive. The hunt is on.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Bold Films, Film Afrika Worldwide
Producer: Theuns De Wet, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak, Gary Michael Walters, Jörg Westerkamp, David Wicht
Director: Evelyn Purcell
Writer: Anne Brooksbank, Hannah Nyala, Evelyn Purcell
Actors: Stephen Dorff, Svetlana Metkina, Maisie Williams, Peter Stormare, Warrick Grier, Calvin Hayward, Jeanne Neilson, Ndalo Stofile, Andrew Roux
Stunt Doubles: Oliver Bailey

Blurb from Netflix: When a scientist comes face-to-face with dangerous arms dealers on a family trip, his girlfriend is left to protect the man’s teenage daughter.

Selina’s Point of View:
I thought this would be an awesome film and I’m happy to say I was right.

The trailer was pretty clear on exactly what we’d see in Heatstroke. Maybe a touch too clear. There are things I knew going in that I wish I hadn’t known. I feel like surprising me with certain aspects of the plot would have led to my having a greater enjoyment of the film as a whole.

I don’t want to be more specific because we don’t deal in spoilers on Trust the Dice. Maybe you picked it up from the trailer, maybe I just did because I watch hundreds of trailers every month. I can’t be sure, so I have to speak cryptically.

Even with my preference to know less going in, I still really liked what I saw.

The acting was very good. Stephen Dorff (Tomorrow You’re Gone, American Hero, Brake) is a clear professional and Maisie Williams (Doctor Who, Cyberbully, The Book of Love), although young, is incredibly experienced from her work on the tough-to-act Game of Thrones (2011-). Svetlana Metkina (Evidence, Knife Edge, Slingshot) was the one actor that was new to me, but I really enjoyed her take on the reluctant step-mother figure. There were certain aspects of the plot that her character reacted to in a unique way – and that made it much more believable on a psychological level.

Of the bad guys, I found Warrick Grier (Dredd, Striving for Freedom, The Color of Freedom) the easiest to understand. He just fit better into the story, and acted more memorably, than the other antagonist actors.

I haven’t read the book Heatstroke was based on, so I don’t know how closely this film resembles the original work. However, it did make me want to read the source material – which I count as a success.

There were a couple of moments that didn’t seem all that realistic to me, and they almost pulled me out of it. Those moments were so minor, though, that I was able to chalk them up to teenage hormones or grief gone awry. Both those things make people react in ways that aren’t quite seen as normal. I should know. I was a weird-ass grieving teen once.

Even with its faults, I would absolutely watch Heatstroke again. I’ll be hunting down the book as well.

Cat’s Point of View:
I didn’t really read the blurbs or watch the trailer before sitting down to watch this movie. I’d seen a poster and was anticipating some sort of action movie with Stephen Dorff (Rites of Passage, The Debt, Wheeler) as the hero. That wasn’t exactly what I got, but I’m not that disappointed.

This was an intense hour and a half. Some aspects of the film were predictable, but it also took me in directions I didn’t anticipate. The movie was certainly effective in portraying a harrowing experience for its characters.

I loved Maisie Williams (Gold, The Falling, iBoy) in the role of an angsty iPad obsessed teenager out of her element. I had high expectations for her, and have enjoyed seeing her career take off as she explores roles far removed from her embattled Stark of Westeros. 

The spotted hyenas in the tale were also a wonderful element.  They were adorable, and at the same time just the right wild element to raise the stakes on the character’s survival.

The movie wasn’t without its issues, but I was invested enough that I didn’t really care. This isn’t something I’d necessarily watch again; but I would definitely have no problems recommending it.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 9%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 19%

Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Cat’s Rating3/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer: