Tag: Foreign

Cuties

Fuck Ted Cruz.

Okay, I am jumping the gun, I will get on that later.

Cuties is a French film that premiered earlier in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival before all of (gestures around) this stuff happened. It got some awards, good audience remarks, whatever. That doesn’t mean much, people at Sundance sometimes love movies way, way, way too much.

Netflix won the bid for distribution rights, so it came out on the platform this week. That is not before drawing controversy, by releasing a poster for the film, very much more risque and uncomfortable than the French release poster of the same film. It really did one thing, which was enable controversy about the movie, and get people talking, so maybe that “gaff” was intentional. It was a pretty shitty move overall.

Because now the public perception of what this movie is about, versus what the film is actually saying, is at odds, and that is a grey matter pit where Ted Cruz likes to flourish.

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This is little girls judging you, Ted.

Amy (Fathia Youssouf) does not live an ideal life. She is an 11 year old girl, living in a poor apartment in Paris, with her mother (Maïmouna Gueye) and two younger brothers. She is from Senegal, where her father is at that point, because he is getting a second wife. He is waiting to bring her back to Paris to live in the same house as his first wife and kids, and that makes things very awkward for Amy, who for sure does not like that idea at all.

Amy was raised extremely religious conservative by the standards of Paris, being from another culture, so she feels repressed. When she sees another girl in her building (Médina El Aidi-Azouni) dancing and dressing up, despite also being 11, she is curious. There is a group of these girls (Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Myriam Hamma) who are popular and fun, and sure mean, but they got style and they like to dance. Amy wants to be in that group, she wants to be free and she wants to explore life!

Well, these girls are a dance troupe and they look up to dance troupes of older women, and those women have provocative costumes and provocative moves, so of course they need to have them too!

Amy has to decide what she wants to do and how far she wants to go, to fit in, to exploit her own self, just to find her own sense of freedom, self worth, and to maybe have friends?

Also featuring Mbissine Thérèse Diop.

posers
We technically find out early on that they classify as posers.

Fuck Ted Cruz. Wait, no, jumping ahead still slightly.

First let us talk about the controversy. The girls in this film are imitating adults they find as popular and fun, so they are imitating their dance moves. At one point a girl takes a picture of her vagina area to post on the internet, and we do not see any aspect of that picture or her actually naked on camera. The girls also talk about penises at one point. That is what I remember.

So the controversy is really over dancing. And that involves twerking, which is apparently the scariest thing known to man since that Miley Cyrus thing. First off, get over it. Second, yes, the dance moves that involve gyrating hips, thrusts, and being on the ground are MEANT to make you uncomfortable, because yes, it is uncomfortable scenes and that is what the damn movie is going for.

It doesn’t take Sherlock to be able to figure out that the movie is not promoting the sexualization of minors, but quite the opposite. The idea of putting young girls in revealing outfits, for dances, for pageants, or whatever, is for some reason still a controversial issue that a lot of people like to ignore, but does and can lead to some bad things. The director, Maïmouna Doucouré, believes women should be in charge of their own bodies AND that kids should be kids without worrying about predators and growing up too fast. They can both be true points.

For the people flipping out over a movie (Which again, partially Netflix’s response thanks to their poster choices of showing the girls in their final outfits, versus just playing dress up and frolicking), but haven’t cared about any of this before seems awkward. The movie shouldn’t be punished, it is the culture that they should be angry about it because this isn’t just some fiction film. This is stuff that is happening, and people can actively be helping change that in their own communities.

I am trying to write this in a way that doesn’t say something actively stupid, but I think I keep going back and forth. I personally don’t care at all about twerking. It is just another dance style after plenty more that caused people to clutch pearls, and eventually people will likely get over it too. I am not saying kids can’t twerk, I am just noting that those angry about what amounts to just dance moves and does not harm the actresses in the movie are ridiculous.

And again, if you are uncomfortable, that is the point, let’s work on making our kids feel like they can be kids until they are forced to be adults. You all are adults reading this, you probably hate it. Don’t make them grow up fast if you want yourself to be able to go back.

So why Fuck Ted Cruz? Because he hasn’t seen this movie, you know he hasn’t, he just read a report, and wants the Department of Justice to claim that Netflix is distributing child pornography, to rile up his older conservative constituents. What the hell is wrong with you man. The point is like at Jupiter levels away over your head at this point.

Also, in general, it is very good story about cultures clashing and how to deal with problems in your home, and how a girl badly tries to make friends to end her own struggles. That is important to note too.

3 out of 4.

Through Greenland (Gennem Grønland)

Greenland. Green. Land. Greeeeenland.

A country with a lot of mystery, because honestly, they don’t have an army and don’t affect the world in any other way that makes us look at them. That isn’t a bad thing. Just somewhat of a truth. People hear about Greenland mostly when we hear about melting ice sheets and similar topics and that is bad.

Enter Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. You may know him as Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones. You may know him from Black Hawk Down, you may even know him from Wimbledon!

He has a history with this country, but also knows little about it. His dad worked here in the 1980’s away from their home in Denmark, and his wife (Nukâka) is a Greenlander, also an actress and a former Miss Greenland. So he has been to the country, he has met with her family and friends, but he hasn’t really experienced all of what the country has to offer.

So in this five part mini-series, that is what Nikolaj is going to do. Experience the shit out of Greenland. He wants to go Through Greenland, which yes, is the name of the thing.

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Regardless of content, it is a bitchin’ graphic to open the show.

At five episodes with around 45 minutes an episode, there is a lot of Nikolaj to go around. It is spread over a longer period of time of course, with various people he knows acting as camera men and guides along the way. He is visiting towns and communities, both small and really small. A military base! Schools! And places far from the communities as well. The ice sheets to spend the night, to go on a long arduous hunting trip and more.

Nikolaj has always cared about climate change and so it is clear another reason for this series is to focus on the changes that are affecting Greenland that are notable to the residents, who can attest to the melts.

And if you want your content to be in Danish, then I have good news for you. This is a lot more Danish than I expected. It started out misleading, since the first thing he did was go to an American military base, but after that it goes a lot out of the window. I can’t tell you if it is mostly in Danish or Greenlandic, but maybe our host knows the latter and thus naturally can communicate anywhere on the island.

This small docu-series is not going to change the world. But it does offer some insight to a country that is often ignored for its human population. When we speak of Greenland, we speak of ice and emptiness, and ignore that it has its own communities, customs, and ways of life. So it is good that something is putting a stamp on it.

It features Nikolaj going the whole Greenland experience, I don’t recall him saying no to anything really. And it really shows those details which might be a curse or a blessing. I feel at times we spend a lot longer on a scene than necessary, or conversation. As a viewer, you may wonder if they didn’t want to do too much editing? That becomes the problem. If they edited it down, then we wouldn’t see the real country. But then they’d also need more content to fill five episodes. I hope the goal was to showcase the country and then give it the episodes they felt represented their footage, and make it a goal specifically to just pad it to five episodes.

Oh well. Two-Handed Jamie Lannister does manly and impressive things in nature with friends. That is what most people might take away from this.

2 out of 4.

One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead is a Japanese independent film from the last year or years, it is hard to say. It has had a weird road to distribution.

Made with mostly unknown actors and for a ridiculously cheap budget, it made back over 1,000 times its investment, which is a pretty goddamn unheard of percent for movies. I know it was hitting festivals and getting a lot of good buzz, and then at one point it was…put on Amazon!

But, it wasn’t supposed to be put on Amazon. Someone had an older unfinished copy, and just put it on Amazon prime for free. Did you know you can just do that? It is apparently really easy. And one it was on Amazon, many people rushed out to see it, and tell other’s to see it because it was a critical darling. The same day, news came out that the people who own it didn’t upload it, it was unfinished copy, and to please not watch it while it was worked out.

Well shit. That kind of screwed over a lot of things.

Anyways, at this point it is on amazon again, but for money, and the right version. So you can watch it and feel confident someone involved is getting money for it.

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Like this guy who is holding the camera!

One man had a vision. Director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) had the idea for a zombie film, an idea that would be so scary and amazing. But his shitty actors were not giving him enough emotion.

We are talking take, after take, after take, and it just is not good enough for the director.

So while he went to go cool down, and the actors relaxed and got to know each other, normal stuff between takes. But something odd happened. Some sounds from the outside. Some…limbs from outside. Oh shit, real zombies! in the middle of their zombie film!

Now the director can get some real emotions out of his cast.

Also starring Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Hiroshi Ichihara, and Mao.

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Those zombies aren’t going to double kill themselves!
One Cut of The Dead is a unique film, there is no one who can deny that. In fact, it is so unique, it is also equally hard to even talk about it because it is a film that should be discovered, not spoiled.

And yes, the idea of spoiling can be kicked around enough, but trust us, the critics, me, when we say, just gotta go in some times to see the journey.

I couldn’t believe what the film managed to do and convey. It is extremely impressive, given the lack of budget or names involved, even from a Foreign film perspective. It required a lot of work. It required planning. And it required people who were creative as fuck. People who really had a vision and executed it perfectly.

One Cut of the Dead is a comedy more than a horror, and it will be hard to find something more unique than it before or after for awhile. Not even an American remake will likely be as unique. [As of writing, no plans for American remake, but sorry for jinxing it should it change in the future].

It is definitely an experience, and I watched it directly after Train to Busan! A very different foreign zombie film that is top notch in very differeny ways. And yet, this one still was able to stand out on its own.

4 out of 4.

Les Misérables (2019)

Do you hear the people screen, screening the films of Academy? They are watching all the foreign films that might take home a win!

Even if they share a name, with other films going for the same!

And if it gets the nom, and goes up for an award, it will likely lose to Parasite all the same!

I hope you sang that. Here is a French film not based on but named after the French book, Les Misérables.

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Shit, they even got Jean Valjean in this.
Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard) is a country man, moving to the big city. He was a cop, and is still a cop. But there are a lot of differences out there compared to the big city of Paris. We have a lot of groups here. Immigrants, various religions, the poor. Ruiz is about to work in one of the worst and hardest districts out there, but not without some training.

He is to follow around Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djibril Zonga), partners who have been running the day shift for quite some time. They don’t report every crime, no, they are here for relationship buildings. They simmer down the tensions between the various groups. They fix the growing insecurities and shake down when they need to, skirting the edge between legal and illegal.

Ruiz definitely doesn’t like the cut of Chris’ jib, but he has to go along with it. Harassing young people, dealing with criminals, all of that. And then eventually, while actually doing something potentially right, the men get overrun by the youth who are just trying to protect a friend. Then something bad occurs, and it occurs on film.

So now they have limited time to try and fix it, before maybe all hell breaks lose with the factions.

Also starring Issa Perica, Al-Hassan Ly, Almamy Kanouté, Steve Tientcheu, and Nizar Ben Fatma.

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The body armor shows they are cops. That’s all it takes in Paris.

The film took me awhile to really grasp. I read only a little bit about it, and it said it was based or inspired on some riots in Paris in 2005. So naturally I assumed it would take place in 2005 and be those riots, but no, it takes place in modern times. We got iPhones, drones, and all of that.

I didn’t know anything about these riots in 2005, and I still technically don’t know anything about them now. There is one scene where it is mentioned, and that is it. But we do have some riots in this film near the end, but presumably on a much smaller scale.

I was also lost a little bit culturally, as getting all of the references and tensions between various groups didn’t come naturally. At one point the dick cop is making references to modern day Paris and the book Les Miserables, and the puns or jokes he was making didn’t make a lick of sense.

However, despite that, we do have a lot of tense, edge of your seat moments. I enjoyed the drama and the dilemmas that our leads were put in, and really didn’t anticipate where they ended up. I was scared by the end of the movie, while also unsure if I was upset by the events unfolding.

A better cultural understanding of Paris and past riots would make for a more full experience I believe, but on its own, it is a solid criminal cops doing bad and good things situation.

3 out of 4.

Climax

I was told a few warnings about Climax before watching it. Not about actual content, but more about the director, Gaspar Noé.

A controversial fellow, Noé has done plenty of films that I have never seen and shorts I have never seen. Apparently Love was very graphic, but I never got around to it.

I can expect a movie called Climax to be graphic. It is sort of there, in the name. I can hear warnings about French film, but that is really hard to put into one box.

No matter the warnings I received, none of them were really enough and none of them could really explain just what I was getting myself into when I decided to finally check out Climax.

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And I felt. fabulous! No, wait. The opposite of that word!

In this movie, we have a few people who are getting a dance troupe together. Selva (Sofia Boutella) is the lead dancer of the troupe, and is working with someone else to pick people for their group and the music. I won’t tag anyone else in it, because everyone else is professional music people/dancers in some way only, and that is why they are in this movie.

The movie opens with a big, long dance sequence in one shot that is interesting, but strange. No wait, before that they show clips from fake interviews with these dancers on questions they asked before joining the troupe. No wait, before that, we see a woman bloody running in the snow. Oh.

After the big dance number, we get to see people talking. People dancing. Some interactions between a few of the characters. Back and forth talks between just pairs, making you really strain to pay attention to the plot point of the film. This is where you get backstory, kind of, sort of! After that confusion ends, we go back to dancing and people interacting.

But, the dancing gets stronger. The people get angrier. The people get weirder. Oh no, someone spiked the sangria and a lot of people are now going on a bad trip.

And then a lot of bad stuff happens the rest of the night, resulting in some deaths, some rape, some deaths, some uncomfortable moments, some sex, some dancing, and some other gross unfortunate terrible moments. Hooray!

dance
Hooray?

I think I definitely did more of a plot description than normal compared to other films. And it feels justified.

There are quite obvious from the conversations early on that seem to be the main focus, and some of the characters who are definitely less of a nice person. The interview portion is completely forgettable after the dance, and probably should be rewatched for clues now that you know the characters better. But it is a huge struggle early on to remember what aspects of what characters were told and are important, with there being such a big cast of dancers and the conversations going so quick.

Now, once the tone shift happens in the film, and everyone starts to get on the bad trip, it definitely gives an uncomfortable feeling to the viewer. Oh no, bad things. And guess what? Basically every bad thing you can imagine happening, based on the earlier conversations and events, totally does happen.

It is very predictable in regards to probably the three worse things that occur in the movie. And this is a wildly gross and sometimes scary film, but having the worst/grossest parts easy to guess seems odd. Basically, if it could go bad, it does go bad.

I will admit, I first just assumed everyone was going to die in some extreme ridiculous ways, and not a lot of people die by the end. But no one is super happy by the end. People have been violated, or killed, or threatened, or raped, and it is just uncomfortable moment after uncomfortable moment. And the whole time we are getting a constant trance background beat, with some characters constantly screaming in the background. We get a power outage and thus, more darkness, a “scarier” hue to the whole thing, and even more bad stuff.

It has a lot of uncomfortable moments, but at no point does it feel worth it. Like you should have to see it, like any character deserves their fate. It is just basic exploitation for the sake of.

And what the hell. There were like, three times in the first half of the film where we got opening credits. I don’t know what was going on there.

0 out of 4.

Parasite

Bong Joon Ho is a pretty big deal right now in the Korean cinema world. His last two movies before Parasite were Okja (which was a big deal at the time to be on Netflix) and Snowpiercer (the best film about apocalyptic train rides ever made).

His film Parasite has been hitting big waves and, before I saw it, the word on the street was I needed to know as little as possible going into the movie.

And you know, so I watched it and wrote a review on it so I could tell you about it! For shame!

poor
Spoilers: It features Koreans!

The Kim family is living in rough times. Both parents (Hye-jin Jang, Kang-ho Song) are out of work. The two kids (So-dam Park, Woo-sik Choi) are adults, but haven’t got jobs either, weren’t able to make it to college, and they all exist in a shitty below the street house where they mooch off of free WiFi and find out ways to make money.

I mean, shit, the economy is tough. Hundreds of people are graduating and can’t get jobs, so what are the chances of an older couple? They can only do odd jobs or con people.

The good news is, our boy has a gracious friend who is about to study abroad. And he wants to recommend him for his job of tutoring a local family’s oldest daughter English. He is qualified, even if they have to flub parts of it, but it ins’t super bad at that point.

However, once he has an in with the family, he realizes he can lie and get his other family members into jobs for additional sources of income. And from then on? Well, things just get really weird.

Also starring Hyun-jun Jung, Myeong-hoon Park, Jeong-eun Lee, Sun-kyun Lee, Ji-so Jung, and Yeo-jeong Jo.

documents
Paper is for losers, give me the recommendations!

Parasite is over two hours long, and at times feels like it is way longer and shorter. I felt so hooked only 10 minutes into the movie, and at that point, very little had actually happened. By 30 minutes into the film, it is clear some bigger plot is afoot. After an hour, it was like a train wreck, and I was shocked. And after about 75 minutes, I couldn’t believe that there was still so much more movie to go.

Where could it go from the pits it dragged me to? How could this story ever resolve?

Parasite is an unpredictable romp through class warfare, cons, and dirty little secrets. It is about what lengths one will go to in order to protect their family. It is about the little things in life, and how people perceive events.

It is about so many things, it is so hard to define and feels like the sort of film people will watch for decades to explore various themes. I loved this movie, and it is hard to find any real thoughts with the wild story that is told. It is not necessarily a film we need now, but by golly, I will take it and run with it.

4 out of 4.

Never Look Away

Never Look Away is a foreign film I would have never noticed if it wasn’t nominated for Oscars. Not only one Oscar, Foreign Film, but also Cinematography.

So I decided to watch this one in theaters instead of Happy Death Day 2U (which is getting good reviews?). I pulled into the lobby a good 30 minutes before showtime, not really sure what to expect, and then after I pulled out my phone to see the rough plot outline, I was shocked. Aghast. The run time of this movie is 3 hours and 6 minutes.

There is nothing wrong with a long run time. It is just something that you should know about before going into it. I was prepared for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Lincoln. I had napped ahead of time. But this is a time when I had nothing to help me keep myself awake or get going.

So instead I just ran around for 30 minutes hyping myself up. A film about art and Nazis does not usually seem like one that you would “hype” up about. And that explains why I went into the film like a strange excited little man.

Art1
Art! Paintings! Nazis! Annnnd MURDER!

When Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) was a young lad, he lived with his extended family outside of the city of Dresden. It is the 1940’s, art is shunned if it isn’t realistic, and he wants to draw. He takes a liking to his free spirited aunt, Elisabeth May (Saskia Rosendahl) who teaches him to look for the truth in things, to live, to see the injustices around him.

And then she is eventually killed in a gas chamber. Not for being Jewish, but for having bad genes, schizophrenia they say, and they can’t let that pass on. Sucks!

Eventually Kurt grew up, still into art, and now Germany having lost the war. Germany is also split up, with him on the Eastern side, not yet a physical barrier to separate them. He gets into art school, learns to make murals and perfect realistic portraits and hates his life. This isn’t art. This isn’t important.

He needs to get to the west, to find out love, and truth, and beauty. Then he can maybe unlock his real potential.

Also starring Paula Beer, Sebastian Koch, Oliver Masucci, and Hanno Koffler.

Art2
Sure is a lot of pictures in this movie of a guy doing art. What a surprise!

This film is supposed to be a biography, except there is no artist named Kurt Barnert who fits the story. How can that be!?

It it actually based on the life of Gerhard Richter, who has similarities with the plot and the major paintings by the end, but it seems like Richter didn’t want this story to happen. Here is a really long article about it. It didn’t come out as inspired by a true story, but it is better to put this as a fictional story and just pretend it is all made up. Inspired by World War II, then we don’t have to worry about accuracy.

And this is a story that goes hard in a lot of ways. They show a lot, death, nakedness, and the struggles of art. It is a film about finding your true passions, and made with a lot of passion. I ended up having to run out to pee at some point (its long, remember), and was surprised it had already been over 2 hours. It didn’t drag in the slightest. A film about not the most exciting topics ended up being really entertaining.

It was about love. Achieving success. And not necessarily about revenge, but overcoming demons certainly.

A really strong film, but one I definitely won’t see again, for the obvious reasons.

3 out of 4.

Burning

I have been really behind on my foreign films this year. I can’t even think of what I have seen with mostly subtitles this year. Not including the beginning of the year when I was hitting up last years Oscar nominees. Basically, it would have been during WorldFest, when I was in a theater with them, and that was in April. I legit haven’t watched a foreign film since April, and that kind of blows my mind.

I know there has been opportunities, but a lot of it comes from my inability to cross stitch while watching a foreign film, lest I don’t really get anything out of it. But I took an exception to Burning for a few reasons. One, a lot of people were talking about it and I wanted to talk about it. Two, it seemed like one of those foregone conclusions of definitely an award winning film. And three, Steven Yeun.

Yes, don’t let star power be a bad factor. Yeun was on The Walking Dead, I liked him on that show, and now I want to see him in a purely non American film. What’s the harm in that?

Field
Burning is a metaphor for his feelings. Inside.

Lee Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) is a young man, trying to just live his life. He works odd jobs mostly, and would like to be a writer, he is just having a hard time writing. His dad is in prison and could get out if he was nicer and apologized, but he is holding firm. So Jong-su has to watch over the farm, their one animal, and just make sure life doesn’t fall to pieces, while trying to get his own life back on track.

And then he meets Shin Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon). Well, re-meets technically. Apparently Hae-mi knew him when he was a child, but he mostly ignored her. They have a past that Jong-su just doesn’t remember a lot of, and if Hae-mi’s story is true, then it totally makes sense. He ignored her, he might have been mean, and she got some plastic surgery.

Needless to say, they hit it off! And she is about to go away and needs someone to feed her cat. Oh. Sure. Because she is attractive, likes him(?), and he has only the other major things going on in his life. When she gets back, they might start a relationship.

Except she comes back…with him. His name is Ben (Steven Yeun), he is rich, mysterious, totally cool. A “Great gatsby” character in South Korea. And she has fallen for him. But Ben has secrets, secrets that Jong-su is going to investigate, or else bad things might happen. Maybe even Burning things might happen.

Group
I don’t know, they just kind of look like best friends here.

Burning is a (heh) slow burn of a film, coming in at about 2.5 hours. It is very slow moving, and its direction can seem to be all over the place. But if you focus the film on just Jong’su’s point of view and trying to understand the strange world around him, the mysteries and suspense add up.

It is a gorgeous movie with very notable camera work. It isn’t displaying the sexy parts of South Korea, but regular fields and cities, but it has extreme attention to detail and really draws the viewer into the movie.

The ending very much ends at a climax, a climax that people will feel like might never come. Because unfortunately, some mysteries remain mysteries by the films end. And that is likely to trouble some viewers, given what we saw from Lost backlash some time ago. No actual spoilers though here.

Ah-In Yoo is a great lead, while still keeping that passive unsure nature. Yeun was fine in this movie, but I don’t think it required a lot of hard work on his part. This is Jeon’s only movie, and she plays the free spirited and weird quite well, and hopefully gains an acting feature after this film.

Overall, Burning won’t be for everyone. You have to want subtitles and be okay with not everything spelled out for you. It will likely make waves from the foreign film market, and will still likely lose to Roma for Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Greetings from Krampus

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

The idea of Krampus, coming from a humble American, is fascinating. An evil Santa Clause? A beast that steals away naughty kids? Why worry about coal when your goddamn life can be on the line?

That is about as much as I really know about the idea. It was flirted with a bit in Rare Exports, we recently had the horror-comedy Krampus as well. It seems Krampus fever is hitting America stronger than ever, and we are eating it up.

Needless to say, I was very excited to be watching Greetings From Krampus, a documentary from the Austrian area, an actual source on their customs and belief of Krampus. How it has grown through the tiny villages and the national phenomenon that has grown for many to have a worthwhile sort of career in it as well.

Krampus
Horny little buggers they are.

It turns out there is a lot I didn’t know about Krampus. Exciting! Did you know there were a lot of creatures like Krampus, that are not Krampus, but come out at the same time as Krampus? Krampus is basically a demonic pet of St. Nicholas. But they also have the Perchten, which are other humanoid esque creatures. And basically, they get weeks of celebration after the Krampus.

But for the most part, these things are celebrated with Krampus Run events. First of all, to get rid of all the past shenanigans where people would dress up and cause problems, the Krampus ideas were outlawed for some time. Only the ruralist villages still did it. But they had official troops who would get together, have rules, to dress up and do appropriate mischief for the holidays, and not just any weirdo in a mask. That way they have some form of checks and balance!

Anyways, basically each villages has a troupe, with some amount of members, to dress up, make their own costumes and masks and rules and funds as a part time job. They travel to these different Runs, where there could be 60-80 different troupes going through a special path while onlookers cheer and get spanked and whatever.

A huge event, many of them all in a few week span, while the rest of the time is spent making sure Krampus awareness happens. Like teaching kids that Krampus isn’t real and to know its a person in there and NOT use it as a tool to frighten kids into behaving.

Overall, there is a lot of useful information in this movie. However, what it lacks on is the lore itself. It does talk about it some, but I thought it would go a lot more into the lore aspects of it. This is basically Krampus Run, the movie. We see so many clips of them, and groups talking about them and their traditions. It is extremely repetitive, especially when it goes back to topics they covered 40 minutes prior.

Cool information, very unique, just not diverse enough and easily boring in the last half hour as you wonder how much longer it will be until finished.

2 out of 4.

Trouble Makers (Xiongdi, bie nao!)

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

I am happy to say that I chose Trouble Makers (Xiongdi, bie nao!) at the festival. I was debating between it and another movie, and looking for anything to tell me why I should pick one or the other. The description of a sentence look looked humorous, and the fact that it involved twins that didn´t look like twins just made it seem like a comedy. But my book listed it as a modern drama.

So it was between a Chinese Modern Drama, and a Turkish War Drama, which definitely wasn´t funny.

And I am glad I chose this one, because like I imagined, it was actually a comedy and the genre was just wrong. I just wanted to laugh, damn it.

Bros
Especially laugh at others misfortunes.

Zheng Hao (Xiaopan Gao) is a bit of a bad ass. He is a criminal, he is a thief, he has been to jail, and he doesn´t give a fuck. He only gives one fuck, actually. And that is about his brother, Zheng Zhong (Xianchao You). His twin brother, although they don´t look too similar. Some issues with child birth. Zhong is a bit slower, but he is protective of his smaller brother, the brains of the operation.

Either way, Hao finds himself in hot shit after leaving prison when he immediately causes a lot of destruction and has to pay it back.

The good news is that a local station has an idea for a new reality show! It is about bad guys wanting to become good. If they can turn their lives around, get forgiveness, right their wrongs, and do good things (please!) then they will win a big cash prize. Enough to pay off his new debts, and hey, money yo.

So sure, they will put in the effort to do good things, at least originally just for the money. But then Hao starts to fall for the very pretty worker who is putting on the show, Xia Tian Fan (Shasha Yu). It helps. But being good is hard, and they are going to have to change a lot to get better.

Also starring Sam Lee, Samuel Pang, Sky Li, Xi Chen, Ziming He, and Yu Tian as the Steve Perry looking director.

Bald
I mean he looks like Steve Perry when he has his wig completely on. Bald Steve Perry without it.

Trouble Makers was full of laughs, and they came on hard and strong. Sure, it ended on a serious note. Including an excessively long fight scene, but ended up right in the feels and morally strong.

The director is also the star of this movie, and he has officially directed and been in only one movie, this one. It is an extremely impressive feat for a first timer, and honestly, I feel like a liar just typing that out. It is truly hard to believe.

This is a slap stick movie, with subtle gags, non subtle gags, and sure, just pure misfortune going to our characters. It did have some other interesting aspects, like a scene where four clearly Chinese individuals were in brown make up to act like Indians. And you know what, I am not an expert on Chinese/Indian relationships, but I am sure that is totally fine, although it wouldn´t fly at all in America.

This film has a lot of energy and surprises, tackling its own satire on the reality television fads going across the world strong for some decades now.

3 out of 4.