Posts Tagged ‘2006’

Movies about time travel are a tricky thing to get right; there are endless possibilities of things getting too confusing, too convoluted, too full of plot holes and fridge logic. But when done right, there are just as many endless possibilities for contemplation, cleverness, and fantastic stories. The animation wonder team at Madhouse gets it right with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Taking the form of an almost too typical anime high school romance, director Mamoru Hosoda doesn’t really look to break the mold on stories about first love, but the characters are fun and interesting, and the story feels like a genuine peek at an ordinary girl surrounded by extraordinary circumstances. Like many other Japanese love stories, it’s cute and sweet and ends on a completely ambiguous but hopeful note.


Gau Ngao Gau

“Dog Bite Dog”

Hong Kong, 2006

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

109 minutes

A young cop tracks down a wild and ruthless hitman through the streets of Hong Kong.

Dog Bite Dog is a perfect example of where a director’s reach is further than his grasp. Attempting to be an edgy and nihilistic view of life on the streets, director Pou-Soi Cheang instead ends up with a bizarre and butchered mess, just shy of becoming self-parody. The production values are fairly solid, although the lighting often left a lot to be desired. Director of photography Yuen Man Fung makes heavy use of stark light and shadow, which works to a degree, but the amount of handheld camera angles quickly becomes annoying. The score is a confusing mix of styles and moods, adding to the sense that Cheang was never quite sure of the kind of movie he was making. The sound designer’s choice to introduce dog snarls to the fight scenes was also painfully unnecessary. Like the rest of the film, so many of the decisions seem ultimately pointless.

As far as story goes, it’s a clever enough plot twist to cap off the ending, but on a whole nothing any of the characters do makes sense. To begin with, it’s almost impossible to identify with any of the leads as a main character or even view them as sympathetic. Without investment in any of the people on screen, the whole story is simply a series of ridiculous choices, each more absurd than the last. It’s as if a high school anarchist stereotype wrote the script just to show people who morally bankrupt our society is. There’s no sense of story or pacing or even character development. Lead actors Edison Chen and Sam Lee switch back and forth between good and evil based solely on the convenience of the plot, destroying any concept of an emotional arc or catharsis. The rest of the cast does their best with the script, but everyone reads like a bad crime drama stereotype. The hard-boiled detectives, the asshole chief, the cowardly informant; these are all parts we’ve seen before in much better movies. There’s simply no consistency of tone or characters, and hardly anything original in the story at all.

The action tries its hardest to be bloody and brutal, and it succeeds. The fights are few, but are surprisingly impressive for their realism and ferocity. There’s lots of blood and cringe-inducing visuals, any gore junkie will surely see this as an instant classic. There’s not much flash or entertainment value to the action beyond that, so tread according to your own tastes. If you’re just cruising for some bruising, this can be a pretty decent flick for the collection, and probably will have better writing than most of the other things there. However, if gun shots and stab wounds aren’t your thing, Dog Bite Dog lacks any other redeeming values for general audiences.

Aachi and Ssipak

Korea, 2006

Genre: Animation, Action, Comedy, Dystopia

90 minutes

Aachi and Ssipak are two thieves who survive by stealing the addictive Juicy Bars in the strange world of Shit City, where all energy comes from human excrement.

A film unlike any other, Aachi and Ssipak is as bizarre as it is hilarious. You won’t understand what’s always going on, but it is superbly entertaining for animation and action fans alike. It’s hard to describe this movie, but I suppose the best way would be to call it something like a drug-fueled animated music video that’s been stretched into a full-length feature film. Combining impressive CGI, painted landscapes, and 2D animation, the movie is a fantastic visual treat. The characters are well designed and every movement is full of energy. The art style might be a little hard to digest for fans of more conventional cartoons, but once you get past that, everything moves and breathes beautifully. The score is a pretty typical mix of rock and techno tracks, with the one exception being the main theme song, which is an upbeat head-bopper that sticks around long after the credits close.

The story is actually fairly simple when you look at it, it’s only the details and the completely insane premise that make is hard to follow. There are a lot of jumps of logic to get to the next point, and a number of times where you just have to throw your hands up and go with it. Things don’t always make sense, but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying yourself. It’s not particularly clever or witty in its dialogue, but the physical comedy more than makes up for it. The characters are all quirky and distinctive, and while they all seem pretty stereotypical, it’s a pretty standard lampooning of the social hierarchy.

The real selling point of this film is the ludicrous level of energy it brings to the screen. The action moves at breakneck speed, and it can be difficult to keep up if you’re not prepared for it. The fact that it’s a cartoon helps ease the impossibility of it all, and lets the characters come off as believably superhuman. This movie is most definitely not a family-friendly piece of cinema, even if the characters look like it. Blood and bullets fly by the bucketful onscreen, and it’s not too short on nudity either. Things are violently brutal, which makes up half the fun of watching the little Smurf druggies get their heads blown off.

It’s not widely known, but I can definitely recommend that you find a copy of this strange little film. The violence is hilarious, the comedy is crude, and the world it all takes place in makes no sense at all. With that said, Aachi and Ssipak is an incredible amount of fun to watch, and makes for a great viewing with friends, popcorn, and drinks all around.