Review: The Host / Gwoemul (2006)

The Host / Gwoemul (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2006) – A family of four will do anything to rescue their youngest, from the monster that has risen from the depths of Han River.

Verdict

Far exceeding the purpose of monstrous chaos, the creature feature finds heart in a moving story of a dysfunctional family’s last shot at redemption.

4/5

Review

Eco-degradation has serious consequences. The Host personifies the danger into a living creature, whose mutation had resulted from chemical toxins that were irresponsibly dumped into Seoul’s Han River. With no purpose beyond destruction, the monster ravages the city and stores its human prey for food. Among its kidnapped victims is Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-sung), whose family would do anything to get her back.

As with how the World War’s nuclear anxieties had birthed Gojira back in 1954, the inspiration behind Gwoemul is also found in a real-world incident. In 2002, a South Korean employee of the U.S. military poured 20 gallons of formaldehyde into the same river, leading to anti-American protests by various environmentalist groups.

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Review: Kingsman – The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2017) – After their headquarters come under attack, the Kingsman sets out to stop the perpetrator, who has also sparked a global, drug-induced epidemic.

Verdict

Doubling down on the havoc, Kingsman ups the ante on fun but needs to do better than waste its band of characters.

3/5

Review

Perfect tailored suits, a bare essential of the Hollywood spy repertoire. From every iconic incarnation of Bond to the sharp-dressed men of U.N.C.L.E., no world-defending agent has ever left for a mission without being dressed to the nines. And so there seems no better front than a bespoke tailor shop for Britain’s top-secret service Kingsman, back again for more overblown shoot-outs.

Shame to see their neat headquarters go at the very start. Destruction rains upon good folks, who deserved much more than the hasty farewell they got. But no time for grieving, as Merlin (Mark Strong) puts it. Along with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now up to snuff and wearing the mantle of Galahad, they fly off to Kentucky on a hunt after the culprit.

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Gone, Still

“What you want, is irrelevant,” Shiloh read her father’s lips, barely parting as he spoke. “We need a change. I need a change.”

It had been a week-long fight, one so intensely routine she wondered why he bothered to go through the motions. He knew very well how she felt about leaving her home of eighteen years. No promise of a better city, or a better life, could have changed that.

Nor could it have been true in fact. Shiloh loved this city. She turned her attention away from Dad, tightening her fist with tired frustration, which was most of how she felt these days. When she felt calm again, she looked up and caught his last words in time, “It’s final, Shy.”

Before Shiloh had a chance to have her say, her portly father had returned to wolfing down his dinner, as though she was to accept what he had decided for her. To hell with that. She never would. Anger surged within her like fire in her throat.

Why does he get to decide?, she thought. I am part of this family too, aren’t I?

She lifted her hands slightly, but decided against speaking out. She was not about to argue against her father again. Volume wasn’t her strength, not since a sudden bout of illness took her hearing two years ago.

Part of her stubborn self wanted to bring up how Mum would have understood, which honestly would have upset herself in equal measure. Instead, she swallowed her tears. She pushed her chair backwards, hard as she could, hoping it might screech like chalk against board.

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Short Film Review: Message Received

Every relationship harbours secrets, some darker than others. When blackmailed for his, James (David Chin) races against time to keep his unsuspecting wife Simone (Danni Ai) in the dark. Not a word is spoken in the ten-minute short Message Received. Rather, dialogue happens solely through an on-screen exchange of text messages.

It works. Director Stephen Herman packs all necessary detail taut in every frame of the immersive mystery, built on a compelling amount of ambiguity. James’ concurrent message threads with his unknown blackmailer and wife aggrandise the tense situation, adding friction to his fragile relationship fractured by lies.

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Coming Undone

Darkness stretched an unending distance ahead, bearing nothing but dread. Only because she insisted, I found every inch of courage I never knew I had, and began walking down the familiar road again. For the first time, I thought.

“No. Once again,” I heard her soft voice in my ear. “It all happened right here.”

There was no one here but us. Yet she spoke in whispers, as though someone might be listening in on our little secret. Somehow, I could feel its presence too. Afraid of what I might find if I tried, I stared at the vast space ahead instead, unblinking eyes dry as bone.

Serenity emptied my mind in the comforting silence that followed. I let out a scream, letting out the tension in my aching body. The void screamed back, enveloping me with palpable stillness. I wanted to do it again, but I remembered that I was not alone.

You will never be alone again, she reminded me.

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Review: Young Adult (2011)

Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman, 2011) – Returning to her hometown, Mavis Gary is determined to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now a happily married man with a newborn daughter.

Verdict

Young Adult offers an honest, sardonic take on one woman’s arrested development, in a darkly comic and thought-provoking character study.

4/5

Review 

Some things in the past are hard to let go of. When reality fails to live up to expectations, many look for that one turning point where things had started going wrong. For Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), she believes her decisive moment to be in her teenage years.

Soon after her divorce, she finds herself fixating on a twenty-year-old first love, determined to pick up where she left off. But there is just one problem. Her old flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) is now happily married – with a newborn daughter.

Despite an apparent rom-com set-up, Young Adult unfolds to be much more. The incisive drama explores in-depth the deluded fantasies that quietly follow many into adulthood.

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