Category Archives: Movies

Skeptical Watches: Our Little Sister [2015]

Based on a manga, 2015’s Umimachi Diary (aka Our Little Sister), is the latest film from Japanese writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda.

Described as a diary of how four sisters became family, the story of the film is a classic one – family coming together after the death of an estranged family member.

Like a lot of films of this genre, the strength and focus was not on the plot, but rather on the interactions between the characters.  It was fascinating for me, peering into another culture somewhat alien to my own, but yet so familiar; seeing them express the same joys and sorrows that we do, over the same simple, everyday acts of eating, living, and being.

Check out the trailer and I am sure you would agree –  Hirokazu Koreeda has yet another festival hit on his hands.


Skeptical Watches: Alice Cares [2015]

Ik ben Alice (aka Alice Cares) is a Dutch documentary released in 2015, directed by Sander Burger.  The film loosely chronicles the testing and development of Alice, a 60-centimetre tall robot with advanced AI, currently being programmed by a research group over at Amsterdam’s Free University, designed to provide companionship and assistance to elderly people living alone.

Being a fan of personal AIs like Google Now and Siri, it was interesting seeing onscreen some of what actually goes on in the development of Alice.  However the real charm and content of this doco came from the interactions between Alice and her three elderly test subjects, and the observation of the different relationships that developed as Alice talked and smiled its way into their (and the audience’s) hearts.

Check out the trailer to see why I was so charmed by this diminutive doll-faced robot, and why it gave me the hope perhaps that one day, I might finally have a friend of my own to talk to…

Skeptical Watches: Parked [2011]

Drawn by Colm Meaney’s face on the film’s poster, I went into this film blind, not knowing what to expect except- hey, it’s Chief O’Brien!

Written by Ciaran Creagh, and directed by Darragh Byrne, this relatively unknown little film from 2011 is your classic unlikely-friendship-leading-to-self-discovery-and-personal-growth story, centered around the middle-aged Fred and the dope-smoking 21-year-old Cathal, two homeless people living in their cars, in a carpark, by a beach, in Ireland.

If you are looking for a small, personal tale with funny accents, you can’t go wrong with this film.  Though the plot is perhaps somewhat cliché, it does have a rather charming premise, backed I must add, by solid performances from its two amazing leads, including- hey, it’s Chief O’Brien!

Skeptical Watches: Good Dick [2008]

Written, directed, and starring Marianna Palka, and released in 2008.  Good Dick focuses on a clerk at a video rental store, who falls in love and begins stalking one of his customers, a reclusive young woman with a strange obsession for soft core porn.

Granted, my summary makes this sound like one of those creepy sex-filled torture thrillers you might find on some (probably best forgotten) late night TV channel, but the film is actually a kinda sweet quirky romantic comedy of sorts – almost cliché really, the classic story of two broken people, falling in love.

Unfortunately the film falls flat on many levels, and most viewers would probably find the characters to quirky (and creepy) to relate to.  However, if you are a socially awkward hopeless romantic like myself, with a disposition for the weird, then chances are you might end up loving this film as much as I do.

Skeptical Watches: Cutie and The Boxer [2013]

Cutie and The Boxer from director Zachary Heinzerling, is a charming little documentary from 2013 which explores the lives and marriage of two New York-based Japanese artists, 80-year old famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko.

Part art documentary and part love story, it was immensely fascinating, peering into the lives of these two struggling artists and seeing their unique interactions, both as artists and as a couple, as they prepare for their latest joint gallery showing.  Prepared to be charmed by the child-like Ushio, the former alcoholic with an alcohol allergy, as he punch large canvases with paint-soaked sponges, and by the ever youthful Noriko, as she dryly recall the past 40 years of their marriage through her distinctively simplistic arts.

Despite not being a fan of either Ushio or Noriko’s art works, I was quickly won over by their quirky lives and charming personalities.  This documentary is just so… well, adorable.  The whole experience is like seeing an old married couple in the park, holding hands and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes – you can’t help but to say “awwww”, and cheer them on with a smile.


Recently Watched: Upstream Color [2013]

This site has once again returned to its semi-abandoned status, but, after watching a film so bizarre yesterday, I felt compelled to return to drop down this quick little post.  The film in question was called Upstream Color, a sci-fi/thriller/mystery/drama of sorts, written, directed AND starring Shane Carruth, the same men who brought us the film Primer back in 2004.

It was a truly, truly bizarre film, involving mind controlling parasitic worms and psychic links between men and pigs.  The official description of the film is this: “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.”

I have to be honest – I walked away from the film, unimpressed.  Upstream Color is not a bad film per say.  There is a unique and compelling quality to this film that had managed to keep me gripped and engaged from the first scene to the last.  One could easily find themselves lost within its strikingly beautiful cinematography; its haunting soundtrack; or the eerie acting of its phenomenal cast.

However, one could just as easily find themselves lost and buried deep within its multiple thick layers of symbolisms and metaphors, and (like me) wondering “What the f**k did I just watch?!”

Spotlight: The Virgin Suicides [1999]

With the 15th being just a few short hours away, I am now fast approaching the peak of my low.  In case anyone out there is wondering exactly what the mysterious 15th I keep mentioning is – well, dear readers, I just wanna say, happy birthday to me…

And now, with that nonsense out of the way, as promised, it is time for the forth and final spotlight in my series of haunting melancholic films.

Tonight the old spotlight is shining brightly on the 1999 classic, The Virgin Suicides.

Based on a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, this film adaptation was produced by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, and it marks the writing and directorial debut of his daughter Sofia Coppola.

Featuring a full rich cast consisting of the likes of James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett, and with a rich hypnotic original score that was produced, composed and performed by the French duo Air – this film tells the story of five young sisters, with the plot focusing on the aftermath that ensue after the youngest of the five attempted suicide at the beginning of the film.

With the themes of love, isolation, death and suicide focused heavily throughout, out of all the spotlights I have done thus far this one is perhaps the the most haunting of them all.  This is a compelling film that has somehow drawn me back time and again – a truly unique title which fills me with this unshakable sense of lost and sorrow every time I watch it, offering an uneasy sombering experience that I am not entirely sure I enjoy.

The Virgin Suicides is one of those films that one simply cannot forget once you have experienced it.  Love it or hate it, this mesmerising title has left its mark on my soul, and will surely stay with me for the rest of my life.

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