By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival is a showcase many cinephiles living in the Lower Mainland will be at. True to the city with it’s huge share of Asians, having a worthwhile selection is a must. This event is in full swing and I offer my picks from this world (links go to ticket purchase):
A loner schoolgirl befriends two boys who were raised by dugongs (manatee-like creatures), and embarks on an aquatic journey to unlock the mysteries of the boys and the sea. Based on Igarashi Daisuke’s lauded manga, director Watanabe Ayumu and Studio4°C’s bold experimental and environmental statement dazzles the eyes with stupendously beautiful animation of the underwater world, and blows the mind with dense symbolism and disorienting imagery that have drawn comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Gu Xiaogang builds a masterfully rich, sophisticated family epic around the stunning riverside landscapes of Fuyang, China. His aesthetic inspiration is Huang Gongwang’s great Yuan dynasty scroll painting. Long, breathtaking takes immerse the brothers of the Gu family in classical landscapes as romance, mourning, gangsters, fishermen, chefs and their sons, daughters, and lovers live intertwined lives of passionate intensity and quiet beauty. One of the most sensational debut films of recent memory.
Once king of indie slacker films, Yamashita Nobuhiro is now firmly established in Japan as a master of deadpan humour. Based on a 90s cult manga, this wildly unpredictable and charmingly low-tech sci-fi comedy stars Takayuki Yamada as a pure-spirited malcontent who goes digging for gold in an abandoned mine. The loser hero, his child-like buddy, and go-getting brother (heartthrob Takeru Satoh) discover an old robot that can turn their fortunes around – but then everything goes spectacularly wrong.
After the international spectacles of Snowpiercer and Okja, master filmmaker Bong Joon Ho returns to his Korean roots with this suspenseful, satirical, black comedy, which functions both as a devastating social critique and a brilliantly executed exercise in Hitchcockian pure cinema. Ki-taek (Bong regular Song Kang Ho) and his family of miscreants insinuate themselves into the rich Park family’s lives – and home – with brilliantly unpredictable, ingeniously conceived, and gorgeously designed results.
Yes, I’m repeating myself as I can’t get enough of this movie. It deserves to be seen on the big screen simply because that’s how Amp Wong and Zhao Ji designed this film to be viewed.
The heroes are Blanca, a snake demon who can take human form, and Xuan, the mortal she falls in love with. Together they confront military rulers, violent creatures, and other evil forces, all of which are brought to life with dazzling style. It’s filled with action, drama and romance. Just when you think Xuan isn’t awkward enough, to see him do anything for love will have viewers gasping … but what won’t he do? Moving mountains is easy in this film, but as for his soul, you just have to see this film to find out.