Saturday, August 19, 2006

edinburgh film festival 8/18

Bong Joon-ho / South Korea / 2006 / 119 min
Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doo-na


The hottest title at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Inspiring a bidding war upon its World Premiere at Cannes, Bong's latest feature - like his 2003 breakthrough, Memories of Murder - is a canny blend of genres and tones, playing at times like a half-dozen films in one. At core, though, it's a monster movie: a mutant creature emerges from Seoul's Han River and, as monsters are wont to do, begins attacking people. (To pitch the film to financiers, the filmmaker reportedly cut out a fuzzy image of Scotland's own Nessie, and glued it onto a postcard of the river.) It's also some of the best fun you'll have in a cinema all year: shot with extraordinary confidence, effortlessly juggling moments of SF wonderment, white-knuckle drama, and pitch-black comedy, and featuring some state-of-the-art CGI effects, it's enough to remind you why you started going to the movies in the first place.

Guy Moshe / USA, France, Israel & Cambodia / 2006 / 113 min
Ron Livingston, Virginie Ledoyen, Udo Kier, Chris Penn, Thuy Nguyen


First feature as part of the 'K-11' project, highlighting the issue of child sex-trafficking.
Shot on location in Cambodia, including many scenes in actual brothels in the notorious red light district of Phnom Phen, this feature is a captivating and emotional experience. Patrick, (Ron Livingston) has been 'comfortably numb' in Cambodia for years, when he encounters Holly (Thuy Nguyen), a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl, sold by her impoverished family and smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute. Holly's virginity makes her a lucrative prize, and when she is sold to a child trafficker, Patrick embarks on a frantic search through both the beautiful and sordid faces of the country, in an attempt to bring her to safety. Harsh yet poetic, this feature forms part of the 'K-11' Project, dedicated to raising awareness of child trafficking and sex slavery. Co-starring French starlet Virginie Ledoyen, Udo Kier, and the late Chris Penn, in one of his final screen performances.

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