Park Chan-wook, one of South Korea’s finest filmmakers, is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. I first encountered the director with his 2016 feature The Handmaiden, a stylish and precise near-masterpiece, which then made me go back and watch Oldboy, which I thought was just as brilliant. Years later, I have now reviewed his so-called vengeance trilogy, which includes the aforementioned Oldboy. In this article, you will find reviews of the three films in the thematic trilogy known as the vengeance trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), and Lady Vengeance (2005).Continue reading “Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy (2002-2005) | Retro Review”
Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; The Handmaiden) — Screenplay by Kim Hyun-seok, Jeong Seong-san, Lee Moo-yeong, and Park Chan-wook.
Based on Park Sang-yeon’s DMZ, Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area, or JSA, tells the story of an investigation into the murder of two North Korean soldiers inside a North Korean border house in the Korean Demilitarization Zone. One North Korean soldier survived. So did two South Korean soldiers on border duty, one of which fled the North Korean border house while wounded. However, the North Korean and South Korean soldiers have reported conflicting accounts of what happened, and so Swiss Army Major Sophie E. Jean (played by Lee Young-ae) is assigned by the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission to lead the investigation into what exactly transpired.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Joint Security Area (2000)”
Directed by James Cameron — Screenplay by James Cameron.
Whether it’s due to disbelief, overhype, or that product having been oversold, I think we’ve all been guilty of calling something widely praised or beloved ‘overrated.’ When Avatar first came out, people were perhaps slightly hyperbolic when it came to praising the somewhat allegorical James Cameron sci-fi epic. I was a teenager when it was released, and I remember once standing in line at a Blockbuster as people were over-the-moon excited to own the film on physical media. I hadn’t seen it in theaters and, after having seen it, I struggled to really be as thoroughly overwhelmed by it as other people seemed to have been. I really enjoyed the Leona Lewis song, and I thought it looked really good. I recognized that it was a solid picture, but, when I finally saw it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “is that what all the fuss was about?” It wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread, which it certainly felt like it had been sold as.Continue reading “Avatar (2009) is pretty great, even though its story feels very common | Retro Review”
Directed by Joachim Trier — Screenplay by Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt.
Five years after having released his first film as a director, Reprise, the Danish-born Norwegian Director, Joachim Trier, his second film came out. It, Oslo, 31. August, is the second film in his critically acclaimed Oslo film trilogy. If you read my retro review of his feature-length debut, then you know how impressed I was by Trier’s Reprise. I’m here to tell you that somehow he outdid himself here. Oslo, 31. August hit me like a ton of bricks.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Oslo, 31. August (2011)”
Directed by Joachim Trier — Screenplay by Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt.
The Danish-born Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier has quickly made a name for himself over the years with films such as his three Oslo films, the first of which I’m reviewing in this article, and right now he is one of the hottest directors in all of Scandinavia next to Ruben Östlund (The Square), the Swedish auteur, and Thomas Vinterberg (Jagten), the Danish co-creator of the Dogme-movement. Already with his first film, Joachim Trier — not to be confused with the Danish auteur (and other co-creator of the aforementioned Dogme-movement), Lars Von Trier, even though they are supposedly distant relatives — shows signs that suggest the Norwegian director is something special. So much raw talent is already there to be seen and admired.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Reprise (2006)”
Directed by Lewis Gilbert — Screenplay by Roald Dahl.
After having released a Bond-film for every year from 1962 to 1965, Eon Productions and United Artists took a year-off before the next film in the franchise was released. Filmed mostly in Japan, You Only Live Twice was the second-to-last official Sean Connery Bond-film (and his last Bond-film before George Lazenby took over for one film). This fifth official Bond-film was the first Bond-picture to be directed by Lewis Gilbert who was hot off the heels after having won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival the year before for his film Alfie. Interestingly, 1967 also marked the first time that an unofficial/Non-Eon Bond-film, the David Niven-led Casino Royale, was released. Niven’s film was released a few months prior to the release of You Only Live Twice, and it may have had a negative impact on the box office potential of Connery’s fifth Bond-film.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: You Only Live Twice (1967)”
Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Jack Whittingham, Richard Maibaum, and John Hopkins.
In this day and age, where we just had a six year wait between Sam Mendes’ SPECTRE and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die, it actually is a little bit tough to wrap you head around the fact that United Artists and Eon Productions released a Bond-film every year from 1962 to 1965. Add to that, the fact that Terence Young directed three of those films and it becomes even more astounding. However, this was actually Young’s final Bond-film, and that occasion was marked by the fact that the budget was much, much bigger than when Young introduced audiences to the character.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Thunderball (1965)”
Directed by Guy Hamilton — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn.
Here we go. Goldfinger is the first major James Bond-film. This is arguably the most iconic film in the franchise. Following the commercial success of Terence Young’s Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the producers handed Guy Hamilton, who had turned down the directing duties on Dr. No, the reins to the film series and provided the production a sizable budget of $3 million (the previous two films’ budgets combined). This was the movie that changed everything for the franchise, and, looking at it today, it is easy to see why.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Goldfinger (1964)”
Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum.
Dr. No was a huge financial success, so United Artists doubled the budget for its follow-up, From Russia With Love, which was allegedly the final film President John F. Kennedy screened at the White House. Though it is, naturally, a little bit dated, Terence Young’s From Russia With Love is a significant improvement on Dr. No. This feels much more ambitious and extravagant, even though it does suffer from some of the same issues that the first film did.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: From Russia With Love (1963)”
Directed by Marc Forster — Screenplay by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade.
Although Quantum of Solace is often disregarded as nothing more than the nadir of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, which it is, I don’t think this film is as disastrous as others may. I have previously described this film as a misstep or a disappointment, but, in reality, Quantum of Solace feels like it is a film that was stuck in the mud already in pre-production due to the late 2000s WGA screenwriters’ strike. Quantum of Solace probably should have had its production delayed, but instead the producers opted to fast-track it, and, to me, that resulted in the follow-up to Casino Royale not being able to reach its potential. The most interesting thing about Quantum of Solace, though, is the fact that it brought the continuity and ongoing story arc, which would come to be indicative of Craig’s tenure, to the franchise.Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Quantum of Solace (2008)”