For the first time I’ve been granted press accreditation for the Toronto International Film Festival®, recognised as one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. So, I had the opportunity to watch and review a bunch of movies. This article features two short reviews of To the Ends of the Earth (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/Uzbekistan, drama/sci-fi; original title: Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari) and Resin (Daniel Borgman, Denmark, horror; original title: Harpiks).
These are two films I was very excited about. To the Ends of the Earth is the latest movie from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, whose most well-known picture is Pulse (2001), which I adore. Although I’m not too familiar with Borgam, his drama The Weight of Elephants (2013) is a very interesting film that shows a lot of potential in this filmmaker.
Continue reading and check my quickies below…
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To the Ends of the Earth – short review
A young woman named Yoko (renowned J-pop star Atsuko Maeda) finds her cautious and insular nature tested when she travels to Uzbekistan to shoot the latest episode of her travel variety show, since everything goes wrong during the journey.
Commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between his homeland and the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, the latest Kurosawa’s film feels like the summary of obligation and genuine intent. The cinematography in To the Ends of the Earth really shows how much the director is fascinated with Uzbekistani landscapes and locations, as this film flows visually stunning and pleasant to watch throughout the entire two-hour-long runtime. Yoko’s complex character is, also, shines in the film as her private nature is forced to expand beyond the limits: she’s put in uncomfortable situations where her character needs to open up to new challenges and embrace the unknown.
On the other hand, To the Ends of the Earth really feels commissioned: the narrative seems soulless and, aside from Yoko’s character, everyone else in the film is shallow, with their acting coming off as heavily scripted. The light-hearted nature of the movie also feels detrimental: the humorous flair falls flat often times and certain sequences, which could’ve been confronting and thrilling, are played in a rather carefree way. Despite its visuals, To the Ends of the Earth winds up being quite forgettable and to feel more like a marketing operation than anything else.
To the Ends of the Earth 5/10
Resin – short review
Presented as a brutal, unflinching horror-drama, Resin follows the dangerous paranoia lurking beneath the seemingly idyllic existence of a family of hermits living on a remote island: when the youngest daughter starts questioning her parents’ beliefs, everything descends into madness. Resin presents nature as both idyllic and stifling, limitless and claustrophobic — mirroring the relationships among the family members.
The major strengths of this film are its relatable characters, played very well by the actors, and the incorporation of family drama in this traditional zombie flick. On a surface level, everything that revolves around the undead is pretty exhilarating, with a few R-rated sequences that truly stand out due to squeamish gore, well-executed action and increasing tension.
Although I have quite a few technical issues with the film (mostly related to camera-work, lighting and sound-design), I don’t think this is the place to go into them right now. However, the main issue with Resin – which I hinted at before – is the traditional approach to the zombie flick sub-genre. The setting (with a family amidst a zombie apocalypse) and the survivalist aspect of this picture feel extremely formulaic, almost derivative of previous films that aim to similar goals.
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