Saturday, June 6, 2015

SIFF Capsule Reviews: 'A Hard Day' And 'The Look Of Silence'

Well, we've hit the final weekend of the 41st Seattle International Film Festival, which is rather like nearing the end of a marathon. You can see the finish line, but you know there's still ground to cover before it's over. Just to pass the time, here are a few more quick reviews from the festival, including a pleasant surprise and one of the best movies I've seen this year. Check it out.

A Hard Day

When you hear about a South Korean movie about a homicide detective who covers up a hit and run accident only to become ensnared in an escalating web of lies, deception, and unforeseen consequences, certain things come to mind. And what you expect is not necessarily what you get in Kim Seong-hun’s A Hard Day. It’s not bad, actually the opposite, it’s quite good, but it is not the movie you anticipate going in. There are definitely shades of Hithcockian thriller throughout the film as the protagonist, Ko Gun-su, who happens to be a total piece of shit—corrupt and a bully, among other things—finds himself mired in his misdeeds. What sets it apart is a wicked, blackly comic streak. As Ko’s world unravels in short order, getting pressure from both his family and professional life, and the central mystery deepens, A Hard Day is also damn funny. It’s a gallows humor that you don’t see coming, and it creates a hybrid of a slick crime picture and an almost slapstick comedy at times that somehow works well. [Grade: B]

The Look Of Silence

Where to begin with The Look of Silence? A sequel of sorts (more a follow up or companion piece) to Joshua Oppenheimer’s jaw-dropping documentary The Act of Killing, which shows the men responsible for widespread Indonesian genocide—most of them still in positions of power and influence, never having felt the sting of consequences of their actions—gleefully reenact their crimes, Silence tells a different side of the same story. This is the kind of film that simply sucks the breath out of you as you watch. The camera follows Adi, an optometrist whose brother was killed in the massive, military backed purge of so-called “Communists”—basically anyone who disagreed with those in power, which included teachers—as he searches for answers and confronts those responsible for his brother’s death. It’s devastating and brave—even today, many people who lives through it are still afraid to even speak of that time because those who perpetrated these atrocities still run things. Watching Adi silently watch video of people talking about killing his brother (they also cut off his penis) is absolutely crushing. Moving and devastating, The Look of Silence is a true illustration of the power of movies; you walk out of the theater and never look at the world in quite the same way ever again. [Grade: A+]

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