The Chaser (2008)

In the spirit of Halloween, I am going to review an excellent thriller from Korea, The Chaser. This film isn't filled with flashy graphics or fancy chase scenes. In fact, most of its important chase scenes all develop slowly and occur on foot. Surprisingly, they were some of the most intense and suspenseful chase scenes I've seen in movies. Its simplistic style gives it a realistic gritty feel which is common feature found in a lot of good Korean thrillers.
Kim Yun Seok plays an ex-cop turned pimp. You can tell by the way he treats others that he is not a pleasant man to be around. When he suspects that someone is kidnapping and selling his girls, he relies on his police instincts to attempt to track down the creep. Little does he know that the creep he is after isn't a simple kidnapper. Ha Jung Woo plays the sadistic killer who poses as a client to lull escorts into a trap to use as his gruesome killing experiments. Some of the torture scenes are brutally real and graphic. Let's just say his main weapons of choice are chisel and hammer. (what is it with Korean movies and hammers?) Just a warning to the squeamish. When the Kim Yun Seok character finally catches up to the killer, the entertaining and thrilling chase ensues. This films features great character development and all the right ingredients that makes up a classic first class thriller.
The film rights have been bought by Warner Brothers and it will be getting the Hollywood treatment that many foreign thrillers seem to be getting these days. I doubt the Hollywood version could fully capture the suspense and the shock this film offers. So, go check this out if you are in a mood for a thriller this Halloween.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 81% audience-88%
Yong's Rating- 9.5/10 (Highly recommended)


You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is Woody Allen's newest work, which centers around a dysfunctional family looking for love and happiness in all the wrong places. As a typical Woody film, the cast is excellent. It features top actors like Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Lucy Punch, Freida Pinto and Antonio Banderas. This movie touches on themes all familiar in other Woody Allen movies, yet there isn't that special magic to make it stand out among his best works.
The movie starts out as we watch an older woman (Gemma Jones) heartbroken and lost after her husband (Hopkins) dumped her after 40 years of marriage, because suddenly she has gotten too old for him. Then, there is her daughter (Naomi Watts), who wants nothing more than to start a family and have a successful career. Her plans, however are stymied by financial troubles due to her struggling writer husband (Josh Brolin). All the characters in this movie, desperately seek out their passions and happiness through any means they see fit. Whether they be spiritual, magic, lust, adultery, or even deceit. Whatever they see is necessary to bring them happiness. The narrator states this Shakespeare quote at the beginning of this movie,

"It is a tale told by an idiot,full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

And as this quote suggests, it seems no matter how hard these characters struggled to change their fortunes, in the end, none of it really matter much at all. Even though this isn't one of Woody's best work, I still found it refreshing and it kept me interested throughout the movie. If you are a Woody Allen fan like me, then I think you can expect a good time at the movies.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-48% Community-39%
Yong's Rating-7/10 (worth a look)


Big Fish (2006) #

Today, I wanted to review one of my favorite movies, Big Fish. Directed by Tim Burton, it tells the story of Edward Bloom, who as everyone knows is a very sociable person. Bloom is a wonderful story teller with a larger than life personality who just draws everyone to him. However, over the years, his son has gotten tired of all the silly stories and wants to learn about the man behind the stories. The relationship between the father and son has gotten to a point where the two stops communication. Edward's failing health brings the two together for the last time and a final chance to renew their relationship.
The majority and the best part of this film are the flashbacks of stories of most eventful moments in Edward's life. These stories are mixture of facts and fantasy and reveal the type of person Edward Bloom is. A big fish in a small pond. This film has a wonderful cast and storyline. It is a must see for any movie fans who just love a good story. After all, who are we if it isn't for our stories.

# IMDB- 8.1/10 (#203 on top 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-76% Community- 86%
Yong's Rating- 10/10 (must see)


The Wrestler (2008)#

In The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke plays an over the hill wrestler, whose body is beginning to break down. Randy 'The Ram' Robinson's best days of professional wrestling are long gone. A man who used to headline at Madison Square Garden is now fighting at small local auditoriums with fighters young enough to be his kids. I think this movie does an excellent job of realistically portraying the behind the scene action of professional wrestling. I haven't watched professional wrestling since elementary school days, but I still have a lot of respect for all the wrestlers for the way they sacrifice their bodies to do what they love to do.

From the start of the movie, you can see right away that wrestling is the only thing that The Ram ever knew how to do and the only thing he truly feels comfortable doing. Mickey Rourke plays a man who is full of character flaws. He lives his life carelessly, just as his persona in the ring. But, even with all his flaws he is just so charismatic and likable that i just couldn't help but cheer and pull for him.

Marisa Tomei also shines in her role as Mickey Rourke's love interest. She plays a stripper, who like The Ram, is also past her prime. And maybe this is why Mickey Rourke's character is so drawn to her. The ram gets an opportunity to relive his past glory one last time with a dream re-match, and also another chance to make amends with his daughter (played by Evan Rachel Woods). However, as with any good wrestling match, nothing ever goes as smoothly as planned.

# IMDB-8.2/10 (#151 on Top 250)

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 98% Community- 86%

Yong's Rating 9/10 (highly recommended)


New in Town (2009)

New in Town is a romantic comedy featuring Renee Zellwger and Harry Connick Jr. The premise is pretty simple, an independent business woman from the big city gets transferred to a small town and falls in love with the town cutie and the town, and becomes a better person in the process. There isn't anything ground-breaking about this movie. In fact, you can pretty much guess what is going to happen. Maybe I was in a good mood, but I thought this was a very sweet movie that is worth watching if you are in a mood to just relax and have a few laughs.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-28% community- 40%
Yong's rating- 6.9/10 (worth a look)


Into the Wild (2007)#

Into the wild chronicles the true story of Christopher McCandless, who upon graduating from college decided to give up everything in society to go on a journey to be one with nature. Emile Hirsch does an excellent job in this movie, and shows a lot of potential. This movie also features a very good soundtrack. Frustrated with the society's obsession of materialistic goods and the hypocrisy of his parents, Chris leaves his identity behind and hits the road away from society. His main goal is to spend time in the wildness of Alaska and survive off the land. Along the journey of self-discovery, Chris comes across wonderful group of people who he develops lasting relationships with, and discovers some valuable life lessons as well. This movie is a touching personal look into one young individual's search for true happiness. Watch it and you just might learn something from it as well.

#IMDB-8.2/10 (#144 on Top 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- critics-82% Community- 90%
Yong's rating-7.8/10 (worth a look)


The Road (2009)

Based on a novel, 'The Road', tells a haunting tale of a father and son's survival in a post-apolyatic world. The film really doesn't explain what exactly happened to earth, but there is only remnants of civilization remaining. It is a cold and harsh world filled with darkness, ash, and little to no signs of life. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smith-McPhee play the father and son on the road in search for a anything better. The journey on the road is very difficult as they make desperate search for food and shelter. There are even occasional dangerous encounters with group of wild cannibals. The entire atmosphere of the movie is very gloomy and dark. Just as you would expect the end of civilization to be like. I recommend this movie to anyone who are fans of the end of world movie genre. If it's a happy Hollywood ending you are looking for, then you should stay clear of this road.

Rotten Tomatoes-critics- 75% community-64%
Yong's Rating- 7.5/10 (worth a look)


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

My review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from when i first saw it back in 2008.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, reunites director David Fincher with Brad Pitt. I believe this movie is as good as it's advertised and if you are looking to watch a movie during the holiday season, you should strongly think about putting this one at the top of your list (just a warning, this movie is close to 3hrs long). there are several odd aspects to this movie which i think makes it even more special. it is simple and deep at the same time. it is a big hollywood film with a feel of an independent film. it moves slow and fast at the same time.
the main premise of the film is about a man who ages backwards and his remarkable journey through life. Benjamin (Brad Pitt) is brought into the world physically resembling a man well into his eighties. he is given a very poor chance of surviving by doctors and everyone who sees him, but to everyone's surprise he continues to live. and as he gets older, benjamin slowly realizes that he is changing, that he seems to be getting younger while those he love around him are growing old. the curious medical condition is just a backdrop to the remarkable life that benjamin leads and the wonderful relationships he makes with his friends. brad pitt and cate blanchett really bring their characters to life with their strong performances. the film is beautifully shot and the special effects are simply amazing. the film reminds us that time doesn't last whether it is going forward or backwards. and it undoubtedly triggers our deepest insecurities and fears about ourselves and life. one of the messages that i got from this movie is not to stress over the forces that are out of our control and learn to appreciate and savor every moment of time that we have with people who you love and care for while you still have time.

Rotten Tomatoes-Critics-72%, community- 81%
Yong's Rating- 10/10 (must see)


Alvy napping.

Quick picture of Alvy getting some good use out of my perio book.


Short Story about Love...

Hello there. I know we’ve just met, and that you don’t know me very well. However, I feel that I’ve known you my entire life. Don’t ask me how, but it just feels that way. Well, I just have some things that I want to tell you before I left. Here it goes…
How do you tell someone how you feel when you’re not even sure if you can even describe the feelings or the thoughts that you have? I once saw a little boy playing with a puppy, and anyone who saw that boy could not have missed seeing the joy radiating from the little boy’s face. Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is that being around you makes me feel like that little boy… too touchy?
Let me start over…
I have always felt this emptiness in my life for as long as I can remember. I want to be optimistic about life, and believe in the goodness of humanity. But, just seeing the extent that people put themselves through in order to cause each other pain, and the creativity we use to hurt one another makes it hard for me to be optimistic about the world. Just when I was at my lowest, and thought everything was lost, I witnessed a glimpse of hope. I could not take my eyes off of your beautiful face. I never thought one person could light up an entire room. The entire world! Seeing you made me realize that there are still some good left in this world. Maybe, that life isn’t all that bad… too philosophical?
All right, I’ll get to the point…
You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever laid my eyes on, and I just wanted to let you know that I will always love you and be there for you for as long as I live. Oh, I could stare into your eyes all day. I hope you never lose your innocence or your lovely smile, because when you smile, the whole world smile with you.
(from outside the room a voice calls out)- Honey, are you in the baby’s room? (the wife enters the room) Oo. Here you are. What are you still doing in your shorts! Come on, get dressed, the babysitter will be here any moment. What are you waiting for? We’re going to be late for the movie.
-I’ll be out in a sec. (wife leaves the room). Don’t tell your mom about what I just told you, she gets very jealous rather too easily. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to find out about that. Good night, and be nice to the babysitter. Love you!

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Stranger than Fiction is another wonderful film directed by Marc Forster. Harold Crick (will ferrell) is a lonesome and quiet IRS agent who suddenly starts to hears his own life being narrated by a very well spoken british woman. Unknown to Harold and the author is that he is a main character in a novel being written by the author (emma thompson). Along with help from an English professor (dustin hoffman), Harold is forced to find out the identity of the mysterious narrator and whether his story is a tragedy or a comedy. In the process, harold learns to appreciate all the little things that have been missing or simply being unnoticed in his life. it is never too late to pursue your dreams and passions no matter how silly they may seem. i mean, isn't life rather too short to fill it with regrets and what-ifs? all the actors give a very solid performance and the writing is excellent. go check this out if haven't yet.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-72% community-82%
Yong's Rating- 10/10 (must see)


Date Night (2010)

Date Night is a really cute movie that's hard not to like. Perhaps it's because it stars two of the most likable people in Hollywood, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Now that i got that out of the way, i gotta be a little critical with this movie. I just didn't feel there was much chemistry between the two. They seemed like two really good comedians at a improv class playing a boring couple looking for a little excitement to spark their marriage. Except it's on the big screen. Fortunately, the two stars have enough charm and charisma to carry this film and make it enjoyable. It was just too hard to dislike steve carrell and tina fey, and in the end i was won over by their cuteness. I'm sure they will get to you too.

Rotten Tomatoes-critics-67% community-59%
Yong's Rating-7/10 (worth a look)


The Social Network (2010)#

At its launch, facebook's exclusivity and its simple, sleek design helped to distinguish itself from other social network sites. It may have lost its exclusivity, but now it is the biggest social network site in the world with about 500 million members and an estimated value of $25 billion. Directed by David Fincher, The Social Network tells the story behind the drama of creation of facebook. Its central character, Mark Zuckerberg is played by Jesse Eisenberg, who does a great job of portraying him as a narcissistic computer genius, who is also a kind of a big asshole. The movie is centered around the legal battles between Zuckerberg and a few enemies he's made along the way to establishing facebook. Fincher does a great job of adding drama and creates a very interesting and engaging movie experience. Also, I thought Justin Timberlake stole a lot of the thunder with his portrayal of Sean Parker, the founder of napster.
By now, almost everyone you know probably has a facebook page, and some of you have even had that awkward dilemma of having to decide whether or not to accept a friend request from your parents or even grandparents. In my case, I don't think I will ever need to worry about making that choice. For one, I don't think my mom knows how to turn on a computer, and secondly, there was that one time my dad called me all freaked out because everything was typing in CAPITAL letters. Describing the cap lock button in Korean is harder than it seems. All in all, there is enough interesting characters and storyline to keep you engaged and if you have any interest in learning about how the facebook phenomenon all started, go check this out.

#IMDB-8.6/10 (#151 on the top 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- critics-97% community-81%
Yong's Rating-8.7/10 (highly recommended)