Watchmen - Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman - 49x HQ (14) by gr8tfate.

I should start by saying this: Before the release of the trailor for the film, I had never even heard of “Watchmen” (I know: Judge me). Despite my minimal knowledge of this apparently well loved comic series, I joined my CinemaSalem compadres at the IMAX midnight premiere. As I looked around at the long line swerving around the lobby full of fans hoping to get their ideal viewing points (our goal was “middle middle”), noted their t-shirts and complex conversations about character motivations and current day correlations, I realized that not only have many people heard of “Watchmen”, but many people LOVE “Watchmen”. When cinema employees passed the time by asking trivia questions about the comic, I felt like I was at a taping of ‘The Price is Right’ as hundreds of fans debated over how many Nite Owls there had been while holding up fingers and screaming to the emcee. With each questions asked, dozens of copies of the novel would fly out of bags and backpacks for reference and hands would zoom in the air, each person desperate to prove his or her own devotion. This is not a world I am a part of and I realize that alone is reason why I have no business critiquing “Watchmen” as a story or idea. Without having read the graphic novel first, I don’t feel that I can comment on the film’s content. Out of respect for all of the devotees I joined at the midnight premeire, I couldn’t do that. I do, however, have a few cinematic based critiques of the film that I feel are well within my territory as an overall “Watchmen” outsider.

My overall opinion of the film? Gratuitous. Everything about it. It was just excessive. Too much violence. Too much blood. Too many naked scenes (particularly of men, but more on that later). I’m not a prude, but my issue in this particular instance is that I felt the focus of the film overall was on the visual aspects instead of characterization and content. We all know Zack Snyder can make film that looks awesome, but at least “300” was a straightforward story. The concept behind “300” was simple enough to have a basically visual focus. From what I can tell from “Watchmen”, however, the story seems too dense to share the stage with Snyder’s exessive visual bits. The visual and cerebral were in competition for me, and more often than not, the visual won. I know that, as someone unfamiliar with the story, there were things that went over my head and I felt like Synder didn’t let anything process with the audience before jumping to the next visual circus to completely distract us. I’m sure he was doing his best to fit as much information into the film as a whole, but cutting out even half the times we were watching three characters just be naked would have given him at least 10 minutes for a little more story.

While we’re on the subject of nudity, I have to say Synder’s depiction of gender relations and women is pretty disappointing to me. Yes, in both “300” and “Watchmen” there is a long (probably too long) “love” scene where both couples seem to share a respectful relationship. But, in both films there are also incredibly unsettling rape scenes that completely demean women. The female characters in both of these films are very strong and authoritative in pretty extreme ways–one is a queen and one is a superhero, for crying out loud! Doesn’t get much stronger than that. Yet not even these women can conquer the almighty male’s dominating presence. It seems Snyder himself takes issue with the idea that women are just as powerful as men, and likes to remind his audience of where his particular gender preferences lie by not only beating and raping the women, but buy glorifying and perfecting the male form by way of super-jacked Spartans and giant blue genitals. He’s giving the impression that he thinks men are way better than women as a gender. The contrasting sex scenes present in both movies seem to say, “I love how sexy women are! I just don’t like when they think they’re as good at everything as I am”. And that’s a really lame impression to be giving off.

As far as acting goes, I felt that everyone pretty much pulled their own weight in the film. Everyone seemed to pull off their roles well (again, with my elementary knowledge of these characters) and there was nobody that really felt out of place or lagged behind. In my opinion, Billy Crudup, Carla Gugino, and Jackie Earle Haley were the standouts in an all around strong cast.

I simply cannot write a review of this film without mentioning my utter disgust at the poor taste Snyder displayed during the film’s introduction. I, and America, who has just welcomed a new President who will infuse hope, respectability, and change in this pretty damaged country, did NOT need to see Kennedy’s face get blown off. This, I feel, was Snyder simply showing off. As if the audiences are going to say, “Wow! Look how great those special effects are! You can actually see the brains flying out of one of our most beloved president’s head!  Awesome!” I found it completely inappropriate, disrespectful and unneccesary. It’s one thing to feature excessive violence using fictional characters; it is quite another thing entirely to gorify one of the most horrific events in America’s political history. For shame.

As someone unfamiliar with the story, I had a lot of questions. Why were the superheros outlawed? And, if they were outlawed, why was Dr. Manhattan an exception? Where did these characters come from? If these “superheros” were really just regular people, why did they have superhuman strength? Were these characters good guys or bad guys? Even the otherwise all-around good Nite Owl and Silk Spectre unnecessarily mutilated a group of muggers for no other apparent reason than they could. All of my unanswered questions frustrated me, and left me with the feeling that this movie is only meant for people who already know all the answers and is not trying to seek out new fans, of which I was hoping to be.


Quantum Of Solace

I’m not a huge James Bond fan. It’s not that I don’t like him, I’m just not that familiar with him. The Bond movies never called to me. I only recently saw my first (Casino Royale) because I knew I would inevitably be seeing the new Quantum Of Solace when it came out. And I also knew that Quantum was a direct sequel to Casino, so I didn’t want to be left behind.

It’s hard to watch a James Bond movie and not compare it to any/all of the others that have been made. I know I don’t have much to compare Quantum Of Solace to, but in the back of my head I was always thinking about all the differences between that and Casino Royale. I think for Quantum to be a successful movie, people should try to watch it with an open mind.

I enjoyed Quantum Of Solace quite a bit. There was plenty of fun action, a fantastic car chase, and lots of running and explosions. Plus Daniel Craig was as suave and bad-ass as ever. What more could you hope for in a James Bond movie? Well, I don’t know, but Casino Royale had it and Quantum didn’t. I would certainly put Quantum ranking with Casino, but it just wasn’t quite as good.

Quantum Of Solace had a lot to live up to as Casino Royale seems to be many people’s favorite Bond movie yet. Is it still worth seeing? Definitely. But try not to compare Quantum to other Bond movies. Just look at it as a fun fast paced action flick and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

More Asian Cinema, a.k.a. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai is superhuman (minor spoilers)

So I’ve been watching lots of Asian cinema recently. Not sure why it’s been such a heavy concentration lately. But there you go.  Here’s a quick run down:

Hard Boiled. Always heard it was an action masterpiece, so I decided I better watch it. The film is directed by John Woo and stars Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. Chow Yun-Fat’s character is a trigger happy cop nick-named Tequila whose parter gets killed during the investigation of Triad gun runners. In the course of the film he hooks up with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai’s character, an undercover cop named Alan, who’s in deep with the gun-running underground. That’s the setup, and I don’t plan to give another single thing away, because if you like action films, you have to watch this movie. John Woo demonstrates how it’s done. But kick-butt action scenes aside, what really works about this movie is Alan. Undercover work hasn’t been kind to him. He’s a guy who’s had to compromise everything he stands for to sell his cover. And it isn’t pretty. Hard Boiled is an action extravaganza with a substantial body count. But it’s also the story of a guy who got in deeper than he would have liked, and the toll it takes on him.

Hey, it's Tony Leung Chiu-Wai again!

In the Mood for Love. Not an action film. Quite the reverse. Directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (yes) this film is set in Hong Kong in the 1960’s. The movie follows a romance that blooms awkwardly and a bit painfully after the two main characters discover their spouses are having an affair. Together. They vow never to behave like their cheating spouses, and even as they fall in love with each other, keep their relationship chaste. What I loved most about this movie was how it’s shot. Kar-wai shoots the film so that we end up being voyeurs, peering at them from inside a closet, or through a door. I felt as if I was viewing something personal and private, and it connected me to the characters, while at the same time heightening my discomfort over their awkward situation. The actors contribute an achingly subtle and understated performance, which combined with a stunning soundtrack amount to a beautiful film that explores the often complicated and dissonant relationship between the emotion of love and the social institution of marriage.

Lust, Caution. I meant to see this film when it came out, because I heart Ang Lee. But I was, frankly, stupid, and I decided to wait to get the DVD because I got wind of some less than stellar reviews. Pish Posh. That usually does not stop me, and I don’t know why it did in this instance. At any rate, I watched it recently and was bowled over by how completely entranced I was watching this film. Set in China during the Japanese occupation, the larger plot of the film follows a resistance cell as they plot to assassinate a high-ranking official in the collaborationist government. We follow this story through Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), a young college student who becomes involved with the resistance. She is to lure the target, Mr. Yee (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, surprise!) to an unguarded location where the resistance can kill him. Easier said then done. In the course of infiltrating Mr. Yee’s home, we watch Chia Chi (now posing as “Mrs. Mak) descend deeper and deeper into a troubling relationship with Mr. Yee. And while Lust, Caution is, on the surface, a film about espionage and resistance, it is also about the transformation? destruction? liberation? of Chia Chi. Which is it? Is it all three? I will be adding this film to my DVD collection. I hardly noticed the long running time (although most negative reviews gripe about it) and highly recommend the film.

Grave of the Fireflies. This film is Japanese, and does not star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. But that’s okay! All I have to say about this film is: Just see this movie. Show it to your kids. It’s heartbreakingly sad, but its intensely personal portrayal of the horrors of war make it a film everyone should watch. Written and directed by Isao Takahata, adapted from the semi-autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, Grave of the Fireflies is an animated tale about a young boy and his sister who are left to fend for themselves after their town is firebombed in a WWII air raid. The animation is not as stylized as most anime, favoring more realistic renditions of people and the environment. The animation adds a strange realism to depictions of bombers flying overhead, dropping incendiaries on various towns. Perhaps it’s because seeing that kind of thing for the first time must seem a bit unreal. So the animation capitalizes on that fact, and every time I saw a shot of the bombers flying over head, I felt fear, and even found myself wondering what it would feel like to see bombers flying over Salem. That’s not something a film has ever made me stop and think about. This film is kind of a kick in the chest. On the one hand you watch this young boy (Seita) looking after his little sister (Setsuko) and you get what love is. The film is a tear-jerker for sure, but there are a lot of moments where the film will make you feel genuine happiness and overwhelming joy. On the other hand it takes place during a war. A nasty one. And on a large scale, we all know why war sucks. But it’s the small scale consequences of war that are easy to forget, and sometimes, when faced with them, the hardest to bear. Because on a small scale war isn’t about the ideologies that that nations fight over. It’s about the people who are trying to survive. So add this film to your Netflix queue. You’ll blow through a lot of tissues watching the film, but in the end you’ll probably be glad you did.

And finally, we don’t talk about television on this blog as a rule, but since this is a post about all the Asian stuff I’ve been watching lately, I might as well give a short mention to Samurai Champloo (roughly meaning Samurai Mash-up). It’s a 26 episode anime series written and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who also directed the anime hit Cowboy Bebop. It follows a young woman who, after saving a reserved ronin (Jin) and a extroverted loose cannon (Mugen) from execution, presses them into helping her find a samurai who smells of sunflowers. So far it’s pretty hilarious and has had some great fight scenes. Although I usually recommend Cowboy Bebop or Wolf’s Rain to people who want to try a little anime, I think Samurai Champloo would be a good starting point as well. Like Cowboy Bebop, the characters are fun and the soundtrack is always great!

Coming up: 2046, a sequel to In the Mood for Love.  I hear it features time travel, which I would normally be into, but find strange since In the Mood for Love did not feature any such sci-fi mainstays. But Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, that stud of Chinese film, reprises his role. He is pretty dreamy. And a damn fine actor. So that’s a big plus. We’ll see how it goes. ;-) Until next time!

Eagle Eye

Basing a whole movie on that scene in The Matrix where Morpheus is on the phone with Neo, giving him explicit instructions on what to do and where to go in order to escape his pursuers seemed like a pretty god idea to me. And Eagle Eye is almost exactly that. Jerry (Shia LeBeouf) and Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) are in sporadic contact with a strange woman who gives them various directives. And somehow, no matter where they are, this woman always knows whether or not their mission was successful. We have no idea what her intentions are but it becomes apparent soon enough that she means business.

Eagle Eye is fun but not entirely original. It kind of seems like a big mash up of various movies including, but certainly not limited to, Enemy Of The State, Live Free Or Die Hard, Get Smart, and 2001. My guess is that it might have to do with this being the first movie the writers have written (John Glenn and Travis Wright).

Either way, Eagle Eye is still entertaining. There are plenty of big explosions and fast car chases to keep you happy. In fact, the entire movie is basically one huge chase, with little time for pit stops. There is a catch, however. The strange woman frequently tells Jerry, “Don’t ask questions.” The same could be said of the filmmakers. There were so many times when I paused and said to something along the lines of, “But how will they know where that tunnel is?” Oh wait! I forgot. “No questions.”

As long as you’re willing to let go of the reigns a little bit, Eagle Eye will take you on an enjoyable ride. Probably not one that you’ll remember in a year or two but still, it’s fun while it lasts.

I’ve Been Watching Movies, I Swear

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve reviewed any movies but I assure you it’s not because I haven’t been watching them. Just the opposite, actually. I’ve been watching a lot of stuff but for the most part, I’ve been watching things that I don’t really think are worth reviewing. But I figured I must have at least a few words for each of the movies I’ve been watching, so I’ll play catch up now.

There were a couple of stupid screwball/slapstick ’90s comedies I watched (Jury Duty with Pauly Shore and Beverly Hills Ninja with Chris Farley), which were hardly worth the time. I remembered liking them when they came out, but then again I was about 12 years old. I no longer have any nostalgia for them after re-watching them, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

Dandelion was an indie flick that fell flat, for reasons I can’t specifically remember. It starred Vincent Kartheiser (remember him?) and it looked pretty but the story and acting were so sub-par. It was cheesy and cliche. Not something I’d recommend.

Nothing was written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, the same guy who did the original Cube (which I recently reviewed here). It sounded like it had amazing potential. Sadly, it didn’t work out. It’s about these couple of guys who are in serious trouble and wish the world would go away. Then (surprise), it does. Outside of their house is nothing. Literally. Sounds kind of cool, right? Like maybe a contemporary version of My Dinner With Andre? Wrong. These guys don’t talk about anything worthwhile and worst of all, the characters are ridiculously annoying. Two things you really can’t have in a movie about nothing.

I watched the last James Bond movie, Casino Royale, and it was my first James Bond movie ever. I thought Daniel Craig fit the role to a T. It was great, I really enjoyed it, and I really look forward to the new one coming out soon, Quantum Of Solace.

I got to see this movie called The Man From Earth which is about a college professor who reveals to his colleagues on his last day of work that he’s actually a caveman and he’s been alive for hundreds of thousands of years. Definitely an interesting enough premise to watch it, even if it’s bad (kind of like Nothing). I liked the movie enough, but it was kind of boring with everyone sitting by the fireside asking the “caveman” questions the whole night. Not much more than that. Tony Todd and Richard Riehle were in it so that was a plus. The ending was a little too literal, explaining things a little too much and I could have done without that. But otherwise it was a fun thought experiment.

I also watched my first Pedro Almodóvar recently, Volver with Penélope Cruz. It was very weird, with the whole spiritual/ghost thing going on. A couple of criticisms would be that they didn’t wrap up that restaurant side story and the fact that Cruz got a Oscar nomination for it. I’m not saying she was bad in the movie, but rather non-spectacular. I feel like there must have been some other actresses that deserved a nomination more than Cruz for her role in Volver. Oh well.

And finally, I’ve been watching the Alien series for the first time. I saw Alien: Resurrection when it came out a while ago and up until now, that was the only Alien movie I’d seen (although I don’t think it really counts). I’ve watched the first and second so far, with the third coming up soon. Man, these movies are amazing. Sigourney Weaver kicks so much ass. and who knew Paul Reiser had any talent? He plays the perfect scum bag. Aliens is Godzillamonster’s favorite movie ever (I think) and with good reason. But because these are such famous and popular movies, I felt like there wasn’t much I could say that hasn’t already be said, hence no proper reviews. Suffice it to say I truly love Aliens.

And there you have it. A complete update of almost every movie I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks. I’ll be away until next Tuesday, so I won’t have any full reviews until sometime after that. I hope this will tide you all over until then.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars = Big FUN!! **minor spoilers**

Official Clone Wars 1-sheet

Official Clone Wars 1-sheet

I’m a bit of a Star Wars nerd. To illustrate this point, I’m going to share a picture of myself with you. It’s clear at the end of this post. Enjoy.

I was, therefore, delighted that a Star Wars film was coming out this summer. Now, I need to characterize myself, because Star Wars fans fall into a lot of different camps re: all Star Wars material outside the original trilogy. Prequels. Overall, they were completely terrible. The scripts were bad, the acting was bad. They were a complete train wreck. But I still enjoyed them quite a bit, despite all the flaws. The only one I really don’t care for is Attack of the Clones, but even in that film I enjoy the fight scenes and if it’s on, I will watch it. So I have a love/hate relationship with them. I very much enjoyed the CN animated shorts. I loved the stories and the animation style. So when I heard we were going to get a full-length film that would launch a TV series, I was pretty stoked.

I was a touch nervous about it, because I wasn’t completely sold on the animation style, probably because I so unreservedly loved the style of the first CN cartoons. Also, the first trailer didn’t wow me. Still, I had

Perfect! Right?

Perfect! Right?

hopes that we’d get a good Star Wars movie this summer.

And you know what? We did. It’s freakin’ awesome! The thing I love the most about this movie is that it’s just unadulterated fun. It’s not particularly mature. In fact, I think a lot of people are going to absolutely hate this film for exactly that reason. There’s plenty of slapstick humor, which I guess maybe would be annoying except for the fact that it’s really funny. But if you look at Star Wars as a whole, we started out with this trilogy about a farm boy from nowhere who realizes his destiny and saves the galaxy from the oppressive empire all while redeeming his evil father. It’s a beautiful story about one person making a difference, about taking a stand, about redemption. The next trilogy is not beautiful. We go back in time to see an innocent child grow up and be corrupted and destroyed. Not very light hearted. Not hopeful. Bleak. Depressing. Ugly.

And that’s why I love this film. Because I know what happens to Anakin Skywalker. And the prequels didn’t do much to make me feel for him or sympathize with him. But in this film he’s just a Jedi Knight doing his job. He doesn’t spend the entire film tortured by his demons and we don’t see him being horribly manipulated. He’s the Jedi Knight his son heard tales of. He’s the hero who was “killed” by Darth Vader. And you can have hope for him and be happy for him even though you know how it ends. And it’s about time, because in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith it was pretty hard to get behind this kid. He was petulant and whiny, and entitled, and not someone you’d be all that sad or surprised to see fall. For me, this movie’s success is that while I was enjoying the fight scenes and laughing at the slapstick humor, and for once, really enjoying Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi, in the back of my mind I know how it all ends. Sure, most of the jokes are targeted at 10 year olds and the newest addition to the Star Wars universe is a kid. Somehow it worked. It lightened the darkness of what came before and what is to follow.

A few plot and character spoilers here, so if you want to remain spoiler free, skip to the next paragraph. Plotwise, it’s pretty straightforward Star Wars. Basically the Jedi need to help Jabba the Hutt recover his kidnapped son, a favor he’ll repay by granting the Republic’s war and supply ships safe passage through the outer rim. But there’s always more than meets the eye when Palpatine’s in the mix. And I’ll leave it at that. It’s a simple plot overall. But the story was such that we got to see some of our favorite Star Wars characters in action, such as Jabba, and some of our favorite clone commanders. Commander Cody is present throughout. And while I enjoyed every second with Jabba and his disgusting, yet cute offspring, we meet a new Hutt who I really just couldn’t stand at all. He’s basically Jabba’s stereotypically flamboyant, gay, drag-queen uncle who sounds a lot like Eric Cartman. I guess I have to acknowledge that Cartman is a touch Huttesque. At least when it comes to chins. But I’m wondering what we’re going for here with this effeminate dandy of a Hutt who lives in decadence on Coruscant. He wasn’t particularly funny. Just irritating. Maybe they just wanted to give Jabba a creepy drag-queen uncle? Because he is creepy. And not entirely because of his make-up and feathers.  Also, he spoke English. LAME! Totally LAME. I have no idea where such a ridiculous character could have come from. I mean, seriously. You’re going to take a set of stereotypes that are usually applied (not always kindly) to gay men, and put them on a Hutt? Really? Thoughts on this topic welcome.

Note the curved body and additional chin

Note the curved body and additional chin

There were a few things that made me scratch my head a little. The first was when we got the traditional “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” after which one expects John Williams’ Star Wars theme to come blaring through the speakers. Well that didn’t quite happen the way it was supposed to. Sigh. And there was no crawl. Maybe I’m being an old fart about that, but to me, that’s how a Star Wars film starts. And it was jarring to say the least. Also, the score overall gave me pause. It’s not Star Wars music. Which is fine, I guess. I think for the most part, while some of it was jarring at first, it grew on me, and I could see that maybe the music was appropriate, just not what I’m accustomed to when watching Jedi Knights kick butt. In one case, however, I thought it didn’t fit at all. I’m interested to see what others think of the score.

Also, I thought the dialog was a little bit forced in the beginning, for two characters in particular. The problem seemed to vanish, but it seemed like Henry Gilroy might have been pushing the characters a little bit too hard instead of letting us get to know them a little more organically. Although some of that could have been a function of the story–that these characters are uncomfortable with each other and hence trying too hard. Either way, as I watched that part of the film, I felt the writer’s presence saying, “THIS CHARACTER IS IMPULSIVE AND DOES NOT RESPOND WELL TO AUTHORITY.” But that problem did not last through the whole film, so it’s not a huge gripe.

A word about the animation. I thought it really served the battle scenes where you’re looking at droids battle clones, but the lightsaber scenes were not as fluid as they should have been. The characters seemed to have stiff joints or something. Also, when the characters were standing still, they looked like they were carved from wood, or maybe made of clay. That really bugged me at first, but by the end I’d gotten to kind of like it. My one hope is that for the TV show, the lightsaber battles will be improved upon.

So, to sum up, by no means is the film perfect. There’s a lot in it that will actually grate on Star Wars fans. But like I said, after all the doom and gloom of the prequels, I connected with the lightness of it all. You kind of have to have seen all the prequels to get the most out of what’s going on, but I think the film will still be enjoyable on its own for most non-Star Wars folks. It’s a great family flick–the kids will love it. And even if you’re old and cranky (like me) it’s a refreshing, fun Star Wars film, well worth the $8. Despite its flaws, I will probably see it multiple times, and I’m looking forward to the TV show. So even if you thought about seeing it but decided not to, for whatever reason, think again! Great action, lots of laughs, and a rare glimpse at some of our favorite Star Wars characters.

Oh. As promised. A picture of me:

Hoth Snowtrooper sporting shotgun. Vader's finest. Oh yeah.

Hoth Snowtrooper sporting shotgun.

Bonus points to anyone who can spot the two serious errors in my costume. Other than carrying a shotgun.


A funny story about 6 and 9

A funny story about 6 and 9

I’ve seen a decent amount of Asian cinema, but nothing so far from Thailand. And my first foray into Thai cinema did not disappoint. Ruang talok 69, or in English 6ixtynin9 (a more accurate translation appears in the subtitles: “A Funny Story about 6 and 9”) follows a young professional who is laid off from her job. From there it’s a horrifyingly amusing chain of events set in motion by the loose number 6 on her apartment door that occasionally turns on the single nail holding it in place and becomes a 9. Add gangsters in sweatsuits and a missing noodle box filled with money, mix well and watch everything explode.

I don’t want to spoil anything, because anyone who’s into dark comedies should check this film out. Let’s just say there’s a body count. A respectable one. And plenty of sight gags and clever dialog to keep viewers laughing throughout.

The main character, played by Lalita Panyopas, seems to be completely defeated by life in general and her financial woes to boot, and her actions are the result of an almost disinterested kind of desperation. Panyopas’ decidedly understated performance is the main source of the film’s hilarity, but also serves to shock the viewer on the rare occasions when she shows some emotion. A fine job by director and actor alike.

Also of note: I found myself appreciating the lack of gratuitous gore. The film certainly had opportunities to go in that direction. But the director chose to leave a lot to our imagination. As such, the few gag worthy moments score on a psychological level.

But I think what I enjoyed most about the film is that each character walks into the film’s crazy plot and makes conclusions about what is going on, and while they’re all completely reasonable conclusions, they’re all wrong. So what you end up with is this fantastic collision of people who all have slightly different assumptions about the way things work, and added together, they equal a nearly perfect mix of comedy, drama, and thrills.

The one gripe I had was that the subtitles were TERRIBLE. This isn’t completely unexpected, and in a few instances the grammatical errors added to the comedy in the film. To some extent, bad subtitles are part of the package when it comes to Asian cinema. Even so, the mistakes were irritating and added a element of shoddiness that took away from an otherwise well-shot film. I’m guessing the distributor is to blame for the bad subtitling, and there’s no excuse for it. It wouldn’t be terribly expensive to hire a native English speaker to create an English adaptation of the translation and edit it for spelling and grammar.

I plan to check out some of director Pen-Ek Ratanarung’s other films and will gladly report back. Until then, I highly recommend this film.