RETRO REVIEW: The Ninth Gate (1999)

Theatrical Release Poster – Artisan Entertainment

The following is a retro review of The Ninth Gate (the review includes some story spoilers) — Directed by Roman Polanski.

Based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s novel The Club Dumas, Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate tells the story of an unscrupulous book dealer, Dean Corso (played by Johnny Depp), and his attempt to authenticate a mysterious book for a wealthy collector, Boris Balkan (played by Frank Langella). To properly authenticate the book, Corso has to bring it with him to Europe to compare it with the other two known editions of the book, but this isn’t just any book. Balkan’s book can supposedly summon the Devil, and, as Dean Corso soon finds out, crazed individuals are willing to go to great lengths to acquire it. Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: The Ninth Gate (1999)”

REVIEW: Under the Silver Lake (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – A24

The following is a review of Under the Silver Lake — Directed by David Robert Mitchell.

In 2014, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows was released to critical acclaim. It was one of the first horror films that I ever reviewed and I remember the film mostly for its riveting score and the unique premise of the film which was really more of a parable. In 2016, Mitchell shot his follow-up to the aforementioned horror film. His film, Under the Silver Lake, was eventually acquired by A24, and it competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018.

I remember watching the trailer and being intrigued by the cast and the mystery. It was meant to be released that summer, but then A24 pulled it from its release schedule. In 2019, Mitchell’s film was released without much fanfare. Supposedly, this was one of those polarizing films that you either hate or love. Recently, I found myself watching Mark Kermode’s review of Under the Silver Lake during which time I was struck by the severity of his reprimand as he proclaimed: “It’s so tooth-grindingly boring.” I’m a big fan of Mark Kermode, but, I have to say, I really dug Mitchell’s film. Continue reading “REVIEW: Under the Silver Lake (2019)”

REVIEW: Burning (2018)

Theatrical Release Poster – CGV Arthouse

The following is a review of Burning (‘버닝‘) — Directed by Lee Chang-dong.

There are a couple of news reports during the first hour of Lee Chang-dong’s Burning. During the reading of these reports, the frustrated Lee Jong-su (played by Yoo Ah-in) is walking through his family home, a farm house so close to the North Korean border that he’s able to hear North Korean propaganda out in the open. As he is walking through the house, we hear how his generation is struggling to find work in South Korea, and we also see President Donald Trump on a television screen. Continue reading “REVIEW: Burning (2018)”

REVIEW: Shirkers (2018 – Documentary)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of the Netflix Documentary Shirkers — Directed by Sandi Tan.

In the early 1990s, a group of teenage Singaporean cinephiles became filmmakers when they wrote, cast, produced, and shot their independent road movie, Shirkers. Though the film was directed by their American mentor Georges Cardona, the premise and the script came from Sandi Tan who also played the protagonist. As Sandi Tan waited to go into post-production on Shirkers, Cardona, who was in possession of the film reels, ignored her and disappeared out of nowhere with the film — leaving her and her friends empty-handed and without the film that a film critic friend of theirs thought was childish but ahead of its time.  Continue reading “REVIEW: Shirkers (2018 – Documentary)”