Category Archives: Cinema Cheung

Movies watched at Cinema Cheung film club.

Review: Battle Royale

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Year: 2000
Score: 7.5/10

Shamelessly excessive but wholly compelling precursor to The Hunger Games. It doesn’t necessarily all make sense, and giving the audience a coherent explanation for what’s going on hardly seems a priority for director Kinji Fukasaku, yet it’s hard not to enjoy the ultra-violence even when melodrama threatens to overwhelm.

Some of the characters are extremely cool. Some of the dialogue – such as when a dying girl tells a dying boy who she has a crush on that he “looks cool” – less so.

The music is strangely old-fashioned and derivative, as though blending together the scores of Western (as in non-Asian, not cowboys) matinee specials from decades long past. At times I thought I could hear the strains of John Williams’ Star Wars theme.

Apparently Quentin Tarantino has cited this as his favourite film, and its influence (on his work and others’) is plain to see. Look out for a yellow outfit that I assumed was one of the inspirations for Uma Thurman’s get-up in Kill Bill, though apparently the inspiration actually came from the Bruce Lee film Game of Death.

The plot gets silly at times, and in some ways I think The Hunger Games is actually an improvement (sacrilege, I know), but it’s definitely worth checking out. Just try to ignore the parts that don’t add up or tip from the good kind of over-the-top to the embarrassingly bad kind.

Review: Evil Dead II

Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 1987
Score: 8/10

Sing it with me: "There ain't no way to hide your flyin' eyes..."

Sing it with me: “There ain’t no way to hide your flyin’ eyes…”

The best film in the franchise, this one is funny and scary and gross, all in just the right proportions. Bruce Campbell is perfect, bringing Ash to a new level. It’s the Evil Dead II Ash that we all remember; it’s here that he really gets his mojo (plus his chainsaw arm and boomstick), and it’s here that he best delivers the catchphrases he’s known for (all of which were later ripped off by 3D Realms in the video game Duke Nukem 3D). Big chunks of the movie feature him on his own (apart from demon/s, possessed hands, etc.), which is not a bad thing. So many great scenes; I think my favourite is Ash vs. his hand (still attached at that point). The biggest flaw of the film is that the final act is mostly used to set up the weak third instalment, Army of Darkness, instead of providing a satisfying stand-alone ending.

Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Year: 2012
Score: 9.5/10

Wow. Probably the best movie I watched in 2013, a year in which I watched 365 movies. One of those movies that reminds me why I love movies – this is what they can be and what they can make me feel. I loved it so much I watched it thrice (once for myself, twice to share), and the second and third times through it hit me just as hard. A word of caution: it won’t please everyone, and some might find it baffling or plotless or pretentious, but I found it none of those things. It sung to me! Quvenzhané Wallis is an absolute revelation, and seeing her brilliance I was compelled to seek out and watch Silver Linings Playbook to confirm my suspicion that she was robbed at the Oscars (though really, it’s somewhat incredible that she was nominated at all). Great soundtrack too – I still find myself spontaneously humming it quite often.

Review: The Getting of Wisdom

Director: Bruce Beresford
Year: 1978
Score: 3.5/10

Mostly charmless Australian movie (based on a novel I hadn’t heard of) about a country girl’s experiences at an exclusive Melbourne boarding school in the 1890s. It’s fairly by-the-numbers and is a bit of a slog to get through. The main problem is that it’s boring, a consequence of bland subject matter, too-familiar themes, and static direction by Bruce Beresford. Look for young incarnations of Kerry Armstrong, Sigrid Thornton and Noni Hazlehurst.

Review: Sharknado

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Year: 2013
Score: As a genuine action/disaster movie, 2/10; as a (possibly intentional?) contender for ‘worst movie ever’, and a piece of pure entertainment, 8/10


Oh. My. Fucking. God.

It’s so stupid, so cheap, so full of bad acting, so ridiculous, so objectively terrible… and yet these are the qualities that make it a wonderfully entertaining experience (if watched with the right attitude and expectations). I don’t need to explain the premise – it’s all there in the title. The hokey special effects and hokier dialogue are hilarious. One climactic moment involving a chainsaw is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s fun to watch Tara Reid’s face closely when she’s on-screen to see if all the work she’s had done has left her with any capacity to change her facial expression. Other than her, the only person I recognised was John Heard (from The Sopranos and the first two Home Alone movies), and even he’s laughably bad in this. I’m not sure it will end up having the staying power of The Room in the best worst movie stakes, but I sure am looking forward to Sharknado 2: The Second One (yes, that’s the official title).

Review: Rushmore

Director: Wes Anderson
Year: 1998
Score: 7.5/10

I was sure I’d watched this many years ago but rewatching it this time around I remembered nothing, so it’s possible this really was the first time. In any event, I quite enjoyed it. Wes Anderson has such a distinctive style and this epitomises it: bold and impeccably composed shots, quirky humour, killer soundtrack. Jason Schwartzman is brilliant and it’s difficult to imagine the movie with anyone else as Max. Bill Murray is also very good.