Want to Read Some More Good Movies?

Well it’s been nearly four years since I wrote the original Want to Read A Good Movie? which you’ll find here at https://gcbooks.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/want-to-read-a-good-movie/ That page has gotten pretty big with updates over the years, and there’s been a few good movies from non English speaking countries that have arrived lately into our collection, so I figured instead of adding to that lengthy blog, why not just start a second blog page of movies to read (ie ones spoken in a different language, but with English subtitles).

The MermaidLet’s start with China’s biggest grossing box office film of all time The Mermaid.

If you only like your movies made the good old Hollywood way, then China’s most successful film is not probably for you. But if you can appreciate tales told from different cultures, with a different look and way they tell a story, then you’ll enjoy The Mermaid. I could imagine Disney or someone remaking this for an American audience and making it too kid joke heavy or teen romance aimed and ruining it one day in the future. But even if that happens, watch this great film instead.

The Chinese are very heavy on the sight gag or I would even call it, klutz characters on films. There’s plenty of characters doing something that backfires on them and makes them look stupid, both villains and “good guys” (or merpeople). You can choose to watch this in it’s original language with English subtitles or choose to watch the film dubbed in English (or Polish). I found the dubbing adds to the klutz style characters, since they haven’t taken the time to make the English speaking actors voices match up with the actors speaking in their original tongue on the screen, so you’ve got cases where the actor has finished talking yet the voice continues, or the actor then throws something but is still talking and things like this. It simply adds to the fun and as I said you can watch it in the original language with subtitles if this bothers you.

The basic plot of The Mermaid has Xuan, a rich young tycoon buying an island that he thinks he can develop and make him billions. However some pesky rare dolphins need to disappear for him to be allowed to develop, so he implements some sonar sound machine thing that blows them up. Unbeknownst to him this does the same thing to the local mermaid population that lives there, which no one knows exist. You see when man evolved from ape, some of those ape jumped into the sea. They understandably aren’t too happy about not being able to swim in the ocean without exploding, so led by an octopus man thing, they pick their cutest mermaid, cut the tip of her tail to resemble feet when in shoes, and tell her to give her phone number to Xuan, so they can kill him when he comes to pick her up (yes they are little naive and think this is how the human world works from what they have learnt from magazines and things they have obtained in an old freighter ship wreck they now live in). Failing that she must kill him herself. Goodnight MommyShe is of course a total klutz as an assassin, and is also addicted to roast chicken that she had discovered in the human world. She also quickly learns that he is not the bad guy they all thought he was and that she also has feelings for him. But can she convince the octopusman and the other merpeople and save her kind from destruction at the same time?

The movie is a lot of fun and does have a bit of violence in it that a Hollywood film that is this sort of light comedy probably wouldn’t. But that’s what makes watching movies from cultures other than your own so much fun! There’s plenty of jumping, acrobatics and scenes obviously filmed using wires and green screens. A lot of fun, check it out!

Goodnight Mommy

This is a great Austrian (German language) film, you’re a little kid, your mother leaves you and your twin brother alone while she goes off somewhere and has plastic facial surgery, you run up to greet her on her return, and instead of embracing you in an I miss you hug, she’s snaps at you and is nasty to you and your brother. Her face is hidden behind bandages, she doesn’t really have a loving word to say to you at all, instead she tells you there’s some new rules, one you must be quiet because mummy needs her rest, two you answer the door and get rid of the visitor telling them your mother is sick, you must close all the blinds so there is no disturbing light as this gives mummy a headache. In the days that follow the mother who you knew is not the unloving woman who this bandaged woman living with you is. She is saying things to you that your mother never would. Where is your real mother, this woman knows, or is she even a woman at all or instead some alien, vampire or something who has done something to her and taken her place? You love your mother, you want her back, you’ve discussed it with your brother, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be unpleasant, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!

High LaneHigh Lane

This is quite a cool French movie (with English subtitles) that is a real thriller even before the horror movie part of it kicks in. In fact the stuff in the second part was probably unnecessary and we already have a group of two couples (and an ex) where the guy currently dating was already endangering everyone by his sheer cowardice on the cliffs and willingness to coward punch his girlfriend’s ex from behind when he should have been looking for the guy who saved his life who was missing at that stage due to stepping in something when he wasn’t looking where he was going. So with a couple of injured, a missing and stupid people amongst the group, and no real trail to get down since (without giving it away that trail’s not an option anymore) we simply had a humans vs the mountain vs each other fight to survive story.

I remember reading a Stephen King novel that for the first 90% wasn’t a supernatural book, it was simply a woman escaping a very violent husband who was cop with connections, then when the supernatural element kicked in I thought it diminished what had been one of the greatest books I’d read up to then. This film sort of does that too, not that the stuff in the second half isn’t worth watching, it is. It’s just you’ve seen that countless times before.

The scenery is brilliant in this one. You experience the climb at times as if you’re hanging off the cliffs. I don’t know if these actors are climbers in real life, but they do a good portraying that they are. The pathetic guy too (Loïc) is excellently portrayed. Your supposed to despise him and the actor Johan Libéreau does a fantastic job making you feel that way towards Loïc. The whole time your just thinking, this guy better die before the film is over.

The ending though is a bit of letdown, one being you can see it coming. Then too like American made for TV movies do, this French film decides to sum up the aftermath with text boxes, which ultimately raise more questions than are answered. But High Lane is still one of the most exciting subtitled films I’ve seen in a long time. Four and a half stars easy.

Love at First FightLove at First Fight

This isn’t an action film or a Stripes style military, or Police Academy set in the French army comedy film, but it’s still a nice film. Basically we start off in some small French coastal town where opportunities for the young aren’t great, we learn that our main male character’s friend is moving to Canada for a future, and the only thing Arnaud maybe has a chance at a economic stability is in is his father’s business, which his brother is now running since their father’s recent death. He and his mates one by one have sat through an army recruitment truck’s speech in exchange for a free inflatable mattress, because they’re just bored. Upon his return from the truck Arnaud is surprised that his friends have signed him up for an impromptu beach wrestling match, with a crowd pressuring him he reluctantly gets into the ring. However his opponent is a girl, he doesn’t want to fight her, so she quickly has him on the ground. Humiliated he bites her so she’ll get off him. Not long after he tags along with his brother to try and sell a pool hut, where he learns the clients’ daughter Madeleine is the same girl. She naturally doesn’t like him one bit, but he clearly sees something in her. He learns she is a paranoid the world is about to end survivalist type, and plans to join the army to learn survival skills, she has signed onto what she thinks is a hardcore training camp that is compulsory if you want to become a paratrooper. He pretends he’s interested in this sort of thing and becomes her friend. Of course he secretly signs up for the course too. However the course is more like an American kids summer camp than what Madeline had expected, she points out every ridiculous piece of advice she is given which makes her quite unpopular. Arnaud however is becoming the most popular trainee. But this isn’t the way to get the girl.

Although nothing really happens in the movie, and both Madeleine and Arnaud are quite flawed, it’s still a decent enough watch. If you’re not expecting it to be a comedy or an action film and instead just the character interaction film it is, than you’ll probably enjoy it.

A Cat in ParisA Cat in Paris is an old school two dimensional drawn cartoon before computer animation and 3D detailed Pixar style films dominated the genre. The human characters aren’t the most attractive looking people in the cartoon world, but the buildings and background images do capture the look of Paris quite well and look quite good. The cat who is more of a sidekick than the main character, is drawn in a fun way, as are other animals such as a yapping dog who the cat takes a moment every night to make sure it is punished by its owner for yapping at it. None of the characters other than the acrobatic cat burglar are that likable. Like most kids films these days there is a dead parent, the remaining alive one doesn’t really know how to interact with the child, this mother certainly doesn’t like her daughter’s collection of dead lizards that her cat gifts to her each night. Unlike most kids cartoons she also has bizarre nightmares of the crime baron who murdered her husband constantly appearing with the body of a red octopus who strangles her to death.

The crime baron doesn’t physically look that intimidating, and is more of an overweight bully towards his mentally challenged henchmen than anything else. Although this could make him more terrifying for children as he’s more realistic to ones they may have seen in real life or simply school yard bullies. Most characters don’t have a lot of personality, especially the daughter. The cat has plenty though and isn’t afraid to join in on a human fight.

A Cat in Paris is definitely different to the Disney, Pixar dominated norm. Although I would point out most recent released by them also have the threat of death to the main character by villains (Good Dinosaur, Zootopia etc), as have most children’s movies and stories for that matter. Maybe because the Belgians and French have drawn this one with humans should be more so why those criticising this aspect of it should really have a problem with it. Not that I see villains wanting to kill, characters as a problem myself.

It only goes for 62 minutes, you can watch the DVD with the original French voice actors and read the subtitles, or with English speaking ones. It’s worth watching once, but it’s not really something I’d watch a second time.

Rare ExportsRare Exports: A Christmas Tale

If you’re expecting a Finnish version of Krampus, you’ll likely be disappointed, as this is a low budget film with not a lot of action. It’s more of a character coming of age film revolving around a young boy who doesn’t like to wear pants, and his father who believes a good dinner consists of gingerbread biscuits and is somewhat uncomfortable in the father raising a child role. Their mother/wife passed away some time ago and the two are living in a remote isolated part of Finland on the (Russian I assume but could be Sweden as it isn’t stated) border. One day the boy and a kid who lives nearby sneak across the border up to the top of a mountain to eavesdrop on some survey mining being done by Americans. They learn something they shouldn’t and worry they will be in trouble. Their fathers and other neighbours have a plan to capture migrating reindeer which they will slaughter in the homemade abattoir on the boy’s property. Problem is the wolves (they assume) have slaughtered them all and they blame the Americans doing the surveying across the border for the wolves’ behaviour. They decide to confront the Americans and make them compensate them financially. But the Americans aren’t there and seem to have left in a hurry. The boy of course knows what is happening but the adults don’t believe him. When an old man turns up in an illegal wolf pit impaled on the wooden spikes the father put there, they are about to learn what the legend of Santa was all about!

This is a film where other than American miners, everyone else of course speaks Finnish, but there’s English subtitles. As I said it’s not an action film, also not much happens, and I’m not real sure how what happens in the ending will really work, but Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale isn’t a bad film to check out if you want to read a good movie.

Blood GlacierAlso on the things found under the ice that prey on humans that would have been trapped safely there if not for stupid human behaviour films, is a nice little contribution by the Austrians (so in German language), called Blood Glacier.  Global warming has unearthed a creature from the past, that sees humans as prey. Basically a group of scientists and a dog are stationed at a remote part of the Alps where they monitor the environment, one of them who the others are annoyed by has become a drunk (for reason explained later in the film). On the day we meet them there is a major malfunction happening with a piece of equipment that falls under the drunk guy’s responsibility, so after simply disconnecting the annoying alarm, he eventually is hassled to hike out with one of the others to see what caused it/repair the equipment. Along the way the dog starts barking like crazy looking over a crevice, where the men discover one of the glaciers is covered in a red frozen liquid. Of course being scientists they go for a closer look, where while distracted the dog wanders off into an ice cave on the glacier where it gets into a fight with something. When the drunk guy runs in to save his dog, he encounters a mutated fox and assumes it is rabid and was the cause of the dog’s injuries. The dog’s welfare is now his priority so they hike back to their base, where a female scientist gets annoyed that drunk guy won’t take her out to the glacier. A government minister is set to visit the next day and the others don’t want the minister or their travelling party to be told about this for their own selfish reasons. For some reason even though a helicopter is bringing them, they are making a four hour hike from some other part of the Alps. Drunk guy however isn’t towing the line and wants to warn the minister’s party not to come at all, due to personal interests .

You can predict how the rest plays out, but it’s a decent enough creature feature. It isn’t obviously high budget but the smaller versions of the creatures do look quite good. The larger ones are a bit more laughable than scary. But that’s part of the fun of this genre of movies. As is the fact that human characters do stupid or selfish things that aid the creatures. There was an annoying pink arrow that is spray painted on a wall in the workroom on the base that is a bit distracting throughout the film. I also wondered where everyone other than drunk guy and his dog slept, as no events ever take place in their sleeping quarters.

Belle and SebastianAlso in the alps but just with human predators is a kids’ film based on a kid’s book called Belle and Sebastian.  Although you can read this one in English while the French language soundtrack plays, being a filmed aimed at children, you can also watch it with dubbed in English. The film makers have beautifully captured the stunning scenery of the French Alps throughout this film. Granted the dog, once the kid gives it a bath in the river, is probably a bit too clean a white to be completely believable as a wild creature but it does look good against the backdrop.

Even though this is set in the occupation by German troops days, deals with Jewish people being smuggled across the Alps into Switzerland, and the dog is in danger of being shot by locals who blame it for some livestock killings, it is clearly made to be viewed by little kids as well and at no time do you ever actually feel anyone (or the dog) is in any danger of being killed. Which is a plus and a minus I suppose. Similar dumbing down the reality of war that The Book Thief movie did so kids can just focus on the lead child character (and dog in this case).

It is always refreshing to see kids being able to go out and explore their surroundings, you can imagine if this happened today, even without the war stuff going on, Sebastian wouldn’t be allowed out his front door, let alone to explore the mountains and befriend a large dog.

Troll HunterTroll Hunter

It’s a found footage film so you’ve got the normal limitations the genre has such as knowing something’s going to happen to all the characters in the film to explain why they aren’t the ones telling this story. But it’s one of the better ones. The film takes place in Norway and Finland, so you’re reading subtitles as you watch, but that’s never a bad thing. Basically a group of uni students for some reason are making a film trying to track down a bear poacher, and when they come across his caravan, decide to trail his vehicle into the woods. Of course he’s not really hunting bears, and after at first seeing these kids as an irritation, decides to take them along and show them what he’s really hunting.

Victoria is the winner of six Academy Awards (German) is a German language movie, although it is mostly in English since that is the common second language of the main character and the main guy whose trying to get somewhere with her. There are subtitles when German is spoken. At times we can’t hear what anyone is saying, instead music is just played over the top. Whether this was planned or just necessary due to forgotten lines or the director speaking to the actors, extras or crew is unknown. I actually thought this movie would be better than it was. Victoria is watchable, but it’s nothing special. I think a lot of the high praise for Victoria are by people who don’t realise the one take keep the camera rolling for the entire movie has been done countless times before. Granted Victoria is probably a better movie than most of those ones. This movie revolves around two and half hours of a Spanish girl’s life who has moved to Berlin three months before, she makes very poor decisions, they are realistic though. I mean how many news reports do you see of some girl who was attacked or murdered and everyone watching goes, “why would she go up to their room with them”. “Why would she have gotten in that car?” “Surely you’d have more common sense than to do that?” So it’s certainly plausible that a young good looking girl would stop to chat with four drunk males in the early hours of the morning who are clearly trying to break into a car (she even calls them out on it), and then wander the streets with them, go up on an isolated roof and everything else she does. Plus remember she has been drinking too which is also going to negatively affect her judgement. There’s also a lot of girls who like bad boys and have a goal to hang out with thugs, violent criminals, there’s even people who want to hook up with serial killers and visit them in jails. So these guys might just have been the lifestyle she was looking for. She might have also been quite willing to participate in what we as viewers fear the drunken men might have on minds. It’s also plausible these four guys could be as dumb as they are. Jails are full of people who committed crimes and had no plan on what to do afterwards, do stupid things and don’t think about the consequences of others, or the fact there’s cameras everywhere.  So it is plausible that these four are as stupid as they are. Just because we as viewers wouldn’t be this dumb doesn’t make them not plausible.

VictoriaVictoria is worth watching once, but it’s not something you’re likely to bother with a second time. If you’ve never seen a one shot movie before it may have a bit more appeal. It does take over an hour to get to the scenes even leading up to tension or action would be what I didn’t like about it the most. For an hour or so the viewer is just subjected to drunken nonsense from the four guys while one of them hopes to get into Victoria’s pants. Sure this is realistic but it’s annoying enough when any of your friends get to this stage after a big night, and you’re only putting up with it to look after them and stop them from doing something that will get them beat up, arrested or killed. It’s not real enjoyable viewing would be my point and yet that’s what the first hour gives us. This could have been a lot shorter, an perhaps the scenes between the parking garage and the robbery a bit longer.

I also wondered would you really get hired to work in a coffee shop if you couldn’t speak the native language of the customers who would visit there? Sure most Germans can also speak English but I would think if you walked into a shop in your own country you’d have an expectation the staff would speak your native language. If she worked in a backpacker hostel or something this might have been a little more plausible. It’s more likely she’d be a cleaner or something where she didn’t have to communicate with the public, which would have added to her desire to do something a bit more exciting and take the risks she does over the two and a half hours of the film.

TangerinesTangerines (Estonian, Russian and Georgian)

Tangerine handmade wood crate manufacturer Ivo, is an old man who now lives alone in a former Estonian immigrant dominated area of Georgia. With the only other Estonians who haven’t fled the war between the Georgians and Chechnyans who both see the region as “their country” in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, being a doctor in another nearby town who is about to board a flight home to Estonia in a few days, and Margus the tangerine farmer who lives down the road. Margus has some sort of social interaction difficulties and relies on Ivo to communicate for their business, and hopefully persuade local soldiers to be fruit pickers for the crop. After an intimidating visit by some Georgian soldiers who demand to be fed, it isn’t long before Ivo hears heavy gunfire around Margus’ house. Fearing for his friend’s safety he runs to the scene where he finds the aftermath of a vicious battle between those Georgian soldiers and two Chechnyan soldiers who have fired into each others vehicles. Thankfully Margus was hiding in a tree, so they decide to bury the bodies and assist the only survivor, a Chechnyan soldier with his injuries. However when they are looting the bodies for identification they discover a Georgian soldier is still breathing so take him back to Ivo’s house as well. This doesn’t go down well with the bed ridden Chechnyan who vows he will drag himself out of bed and avenge his friend’s death. Ivo is having none of that, and eventually gains the respect from the Chechnyan to give his word there will be no killing under his roof. When the Georgian awakes from his coma type state he makes him promise the same. But the two clearly do not like each other and as they recover from their injuries, will they keep their word? Plus what of the threat of other soldiers coming for a free feed, finding out their enemy is there too?

Tangerines is a film in three languages, Estonian, Russian and Georgian with English subtitles. If you are after a movie with a lot of action, this isn’t the film for you. Most takes part inside Ivo’s house on under some tangerine trees. The acting is good from all involved though. The story is a simple one, but an effective one. We don’t get a lot of backstory on any of the characters, or even why there is (or likely was, assuming this is a real town) an Estonian settlement in Georgia, which isn’t a border sharing neighbour but is in fact a country as far away from Estonia with a heap of other ones in between it, as say Italy and England. But we don’t need any of those backstories to understand what is going on or to appreciate the hatred, conflict and tension going on, on the screen.

Like the tangerine fruit (a.k.a. mandarine) we may be only be tasting one of a number of segments of the whole conflict, but by consuming this piece, we get a pretty good taste for what the overall fruit was like.

Simple SimonSimple Simon (Swedish)

If you like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, or liked the book The Rosie Project, then you’ll like this nice little film from Sweden.  It’s main character is a young guy with Asperger’s who has moved out of his elderly parents house to live with his brother Sam, who I guess is a couple of years older than him. However his brother has a girlfriend, who really tries to make an effort and life better for Simon, but ultimately Simon’s inflexibility, and disregard for her needs, her opinions and the fact that he walks in on her in the bathroom or while having sex with Simon’s brother if they are not following Simon’s well planned out schedule to the second, leads her to move out and break up with Sam. Sam convinced Simon the three of them needed to live together by telling him he needed his girlfriend to take care of him, like he takes care of Simon. So Simon starts freaking out over who will do the dishes, in frustration Sam tells Simon that she wasn’t perfect, with one of the reasons, she doesn’t make any noise when they have sex. So Simon decides to come up with a plan to find Simon a new girlfriend, by coming up with a questionnaire to ask women he meets, which included the sex question.

Simple Simon is a feel good film. It has humour from awkward situations and you can’t help but like Simon (even though you probably wouldn’t want to live with him yourself). Simon is sort of like a more realistic version of Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, Simon doesn’t quite have the superiority complex over others that Sheldon does. Because of the find a partner for his brother survey, it kind of reminded of a book called The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion where a similar character to Simon, does a similar culturally taboo type thing called The Wife Project.

OccupiedOccupied (Norwegian).  Based on a novel by Jo Nesbo and made by the people who made the original movies based on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books. With this TV series, basically in the near future Norway elects a Greens type of political party to govern, on a promise to take action against Climate Change having a huge impact on Norway.  They decide to stop producing oil and tell the world short term pain from no oil will be better in the long run as it is forcing alternative energy research to be fast tracked and implemented. Civil wars in the Middle East have meant oil can no longer be sourced from there either.  The European Union demands Norway put their oil rigs back online and imposes strict economic sanctions.  Norway ignores these demands, so Russia with Sweden by its side does “the world a favour” by invading Norway and taking over the oil industry.  The Norway government publicly backflips on their policy and denies their country is being occupied, stating they are accepting Russian expertise to get their oil industry running again.  The Norwegian citizens do not believe a word of it. Chechen and other refugees who fled Russian occupation in their own lands no longer feel safe in the streets of Oslo, and even Russian citizens themselves in Oslo are feeling the hate.

White TankAlso involving Russians but this time a film made by them.  The White Tiger (Russian language) is the tale of the Russians being slaughtered by a more modern German white tank and their efforts to destroy it.  I like this in regards to the fact that most World War II films made in English speaking countries, we dumb down the opposition.  This one doesn’t, which means defeating them reflects the achievement that it actually was.

Blind DateBlind Date (French).  A young pianist moves into a new flat, only to discover the walls are very thin and she can hear everything the guy next door does.  Both do everything they can to annoy the other so much that they move out.

RoboGeisha (Japanese) is another just pure fun, not taking anything seriously film. It’s not supposed to be believable or realistic in anyway, some of the special effects are deliberately cheesy, and a lot of the characters tell you the obvious or what happened after you’ve just seen it on the screen like, “she chopped me with her hand”, or “I have a gun in my knee.” But that adds to the fun. In Japanese but with English subtitles, but really there isn’t a lot of dialogue, you’re watching the action on the screen, and there’s a lot of it.

RobogeishaBasically a shy Cinderella type situation girl named Yoshi, is being constantly put down by her older sister and their adopted mother who is clearly jealous of the younger one, but who is told by them she is ugly and will never be a Geisha like her older sister pretends to be. But a steel industry tycoon walks through the door of their house one day (which is never explained), when they are fighting and is impressed by the younger girl, who can rip apart a phone book with her bare hands. If you couldn’t work out what happened, don’t worry he tells us out loud, “she ripped apart a phone book with her hands”. Both sisters are invited to dinner where they are forced to join the tycoon and his father’s army of ruthless Geisha assassins who are rewarded when successful by being allowed to undergo operations that eventually make them more machine than human. They use their looks to distract their enemy and their fighting skills and weapons built into their bodies to kill them. But Yoshi doesn’t agree with all her victims being targets, and discovers the evil plans that is behind her organisation’s assassinations, and is determined to stop them.

The VolcanoThe Volcano (French) is a great movie that will have you erupting in laughter as you watch it. You’ve got a twenty year old daughter of a French driving instructor who met some guy in Greece and is marrying him over there. Her mother and his ex wife left them 20 years ago and while the daughter awaits their arrival, these two happen to be on the same flight to Greece. Both have developed a serious hatred for the other. The mother is in first class and the father in coach. A volcano eruption in Iceland forces their flight to land in Germany where they learn all flights in Europe have been grounded. The father hires a car, the mother gets on a bus, but both trying to sabotage the other results in them sharing the rental car. However their sheer hatred for the other means its not long before they are both stranded on the motorway. Both will try and make their way to their daughter’s wedding while trying to sabotage or even kill the other so they don’t make it there. Both will cross paths a number of times, will they need to team up though if they are to make it to their daughter’s special day on time?

The Volcano (or Eyjafjallajökull (the name of the Volcano) as it was released in some markets) is simply one of the funniest road trip movies you’ll ever see. The ex murderer who turned his motor home into a rolling place of worship was just simply brilliant. Granted not everything is completely plausible or realistic, but you’re just having so much fun watching this thing that you just don’t care.

EvaEva is a Spanish language film that is decent although nothing new storyline wise contribution to the robot genre.  It does have some nice visuals though. The robot cat for one in this looks pretty cool.  Although why it scratches itself is a bit of a mystery.  I never understand why movies include spoiler scenes at the start, you’re already watching the movie, so it’s not like a book that people browse and read the first couple of pages of before deciding to borrow or purchase it. We’re shown Eva collapsing after knocking on the door of the film’s main character and her mother losing her grip on the top of a cliff and falling to the valley below. The cliff grip scene looked pretty unrealistic too. These were pretty much the only surprises in the storyline which if you’ve seen any robot movie, you’ve seen it all before, and seeing the spoiler scenes early added nothing to the film.

The film is both visually enjoyable and with a nice (albeit unoriginal) storyline and the actress playing ten year old Eva is also quite likable. Sometimes kids as title characters can ruin a movie by either poor acting or that there character is simply annoying. Neither is the case with Eva or Claudia Vega who played her.  There are a few plot holes or questions you ask about the storyline while its going and once its over, but they don’t detract from enjoying the movie overall.

The South Koreans have made a nice dark comedy with 24 Hours to Die (also released under the title Truck) with Korean language spoken and English subtitles. It starts off a little slow, where viewers are getting to know the main character, a truck driver who doesn’t mind overloading his truck to try and make a bit more money or bullying a roadside vendor to sell him a massive teddy bear for $10 because that’s what the sign bears for sale says. He’s not a seriously bad villain, but nor is he a saint. He has a loving relationship with his young daughter who lives with his elderly mother, while he’s on the road due to his daughter’s mother passing away from a heart condition. Tragically the same fate looks like taking his daughter’s life, she needs a heart transplant quickly, there is a donor heart, but the father needs to pay $60 000 for it. He doesn’t have the cash so after loan sharks and a poker game that goes wrong, he’s given an ultimatum by a criminal cartel. Dispose of a heap of fresh bodies they just killed where no one will ever find them, and they’ll pay for his daughter’s heart transplant, or they just add his corpse to the pile. So with the bodies piled high under a tarp in the back of his truck, he sets off to find a remote location, only problem is South Korea’s most lethal serial killer has just escaped and he’s been stopped by a policeman who wants him to drive him to the killer’s mother’s town where he thinks the killer is headed to stop him before he kills again.

24 Hours to DieTruck is fairly predictable, but still a lot of fun, once the truck sets out with the bodies. Before that it’s a bit slow but you can always fast forward that anyway if you just want to get to the good stuff. The start though has its touching moments between father and daughter, which leaves you no doubt he loves her and will do anything for her survival. But also highlights how fortunate you are if you live in a more first world country, with the little girl telling him grandma told her she needs to meet a hard working man (like him) to look after her when she grows up and lines like this.

From Paraguay with Guarani and Spanish spoken with English subtitles was a simple but highly effective low budget film called 7 Boxes. Saying its low budget though doesn’t mean it’s not good, you don’t need a big budget for a story set in a marketplace where your main characters (good and bad guys) push wheelbarrows transporting retailers goods and shoppers purchases for a meager living. It’s got likable characters, Victor (Celso Franco) a teenager boy who dreams of owning a mobile phone who when asked by a hot girl he visits in the shop she works in, if he can do her a favour and take his wheelbarrow to a butcher to transport something urgently, jumps at the chance. When the butcher tares in half a US $100 note telling him he’ll give him the other half when he calls him to tell him where to deliver 7 crates to, he knows he’ll be able to afford his sister’s friend’s mobile phone with a camera, so doesn’t ask any questions or think about the downsides too much. 7-boxesHis annoying friend Liz, (Lali Gonzalez) who just wants to hang out and doesn’t get why he’s in a different and selfish mood (because he’s scared and freaking out) is also a joy to watch. His main wheelbarrow nemesis and bully was supposed to get this job, but was late due to arguing with a chemist who won’t give him pills for his kid without money up front, expects Victor to just give him the crates. Victor doesn’t know what’s in the crates but knows he can’t hand them over, damage or lose them or he’ll likely end up dead. However the bully eavesdrops on a conversation and mistakenly believes there’s $250 000 in those crates, so recruits other wheelbarrowers to find and kill Victor if they feel like it, so he can have the crates.

The film is just a lot of fun. I didn’t get at one stage why the sister was happily giving over information implicating her brother in a crime to the police but other than that I can’t fault this great film!

Ghost Graduation
is a nice Spanish comedy that is an unofficial sequel to The Breakfast Club.  Basically if we pretend the detention kids in an alternative ending died in a fire because they were locked in the library, this movie follows on follows on from that.  ghost-graduationBasically the kids have been haunting their school for twenty years in a very amusing to the viewers way. However a new teacher has come to the school, and he can see dead people!

If you know of any other great movies people can read.  Feel free to comment.  Maybe about some bad ones too.  I watched one of the worst movies ever made called The Assassin (in Mandarin).  It was like watching a university school play or something where the rehearsal was being filmed with actors forgetting their lines or that they had to stand up. So many times a character would say something like I need you to travel to whatever province and kill your cousin or whatever and then the other person just keeps kneeling there looking blankly into space. Obviously the director or someone was yelling out “get up, your supposed to stand up and walk off now,” as they do so about 15 seconds later. No one has obviously edited this thing or bothered to shoot things twice, if lines are forgotten the actor just freezes until prompted what to say or do. For some reason it’s in black and white at the start before suddenly becoming colour too. I gave up when the movie got to 27 minutes, I was that bored and frustrated with this thing.

Another Chinese movie called The World was also pretty boring. I wanted to like this one, I really did, the setting was brilliant, a theme park in the suburbs of Beijing, China that is sort of like Epcot or Vegas without the casinos, where Chinese citizens and tourists can visit the world in one place, including a mini Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Pyramid, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Manhattan skyline, they can even experience a replica of an actual plane (that would probably get dated pretty fast with the modernization of China and more citizens being able to fly in real ones) but anyway the world can be seen without leaving Beijing. The theme park itself was interesting, I’d definitely go check it out if I went to Beijing (there’s a real one there, also one in Hong Kong). I’ve been to the actual versions of these monuments and I found it weird but fascinating that tourists are doing the same thing as when visiting those places in the actual countries such as putting your hand in the circle thing in Rome to see if its mouth shuts and traps your hand if you’ve been lying, trying to pose for a photo so it looks like you’re holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and stuff like this.

But the movie wasn’t very interesting, you’re pretty much a fly on the wall to employees every day conversations. You can sit in the staff room of wherever you work and experience the same sort of thing. Doesn’t matter that they’re Chinese compared to whatever country your living in, they are the same ones in this film. There’s no plot or anything to the movie. It’s like we’re watching a documentary (or at least a mockumentary) of the lives of Chinese theme park workers in their 20’s who have mostly moved to Beijing from a small town for a more exciting or economically better life. This could have based in any big city in any country, at any large employer. To be honest you just get bored of this one after a while.