Saturday, September 12, 2009

New on DVD: Deadgirl

Deadgirl 2008 Dark Sky Films (Dir: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel)

In many horror movies, the sequence of events is kicked off by teenagers doing stupid things, and DEADGIRL is no different. Two scruffy high school losers skip classes to drink warm beer and break windows at an abandoned mental hospital. After getting chased by a stray doberman, Rickie and JT find themselves lost underground in the bowls of "The Nut House." Prying open a rusted door in the hopes of finding a way out, they discover a naked, unconscious woman bound and cuffed to a mattress, with a sheet of plastic covering her. The boys quarrel over calling the police (Rickie) or "keeping her" (JT) and part ways, only to have JT resurface a few hours later to drag Rickie back to the hospital. There he confesses he killed the girl, only to have her wake up, again and again. JT wants to use her as a sex slave, Rickie isn't convinced, but agrees to go along with it if JT keeps his involvement, and her, a secret. Even with this new supernatural element, Rickie's life is pretty grim: His mother's alcoholic boyfriend is staying over indefinitely, he has a crush on a girl at school who won't give him the time of day, his teachers are smug, his friends are lame, his masturbatory fantasies are interrupted by images of the dead girl (Jenny Spain, who looks like vaguely like Bjork if you stretched her taller by half-a-foot and stained her teeth yellow) and the jocks at his school are acting like, well, jocks. While Rickie wrestles with his inner demons, JT has started to bring other scummy friends down to fuck this zombie sex doll -- justifying their behavior by insisting she is not a real person (being dead). Only Rickie still refuses to join in, but he doesn't go to the police either. Instead he tries to set her free... and then things really get nasty. Nicely handled and well shot, by all rights DEADGIRL should have dissolved into adolescent silliness or outright sleaze by the first half hour, considering the subject matter. Instead Directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel (neither with a notable project on their scant resumes) transcend the obvious pitfalls and deliver a quiet, mean, sometimes funny film about teen angst, morality, mortality, and sex. The relatively young cast all rise to occasion: Shiloh Fernandez (who gave a solid performance in RED) anchors the rest of the actors and is never too pretty nor too emo to lose the viewer's attention. Noah Segan's JT plays a stupid hick and demented maniac with grace. Even Jenny Spain as the Deadgirl treats writhing and gnashing of teeth like a serious role. I admit that DEADGIRL well exceeded my (probably low) expectations, and reminded me why I like a good B-horror film in the first place. If only they were not so few and far between.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Recent Netflix Rentals, or maybe not-so-recent...

I've been MIA recently, I know. Hey, I have a day job, I help out with the physical production of Shock Cinema Magazine, and I'm writing a book. Three if you count the ones I'm shelving or planning. I also have stacks of movies to watch! That keeps me away from the blog even when there is important news like the Tokyo Zombie DVD getting a US release at last (which I found out about AGES ago and never bothered to post- bad obscure film fan, no cookie). There are a number of films that have seen legit releases that I actually liked, and I'm not just talking documentaries about grim and depressing subject matter. Oh no, these are full on dramatic films about grim and depressing subject matter!

First off is JCVD: Jean Claude Van Damme. What ever you think of the guy, feisty B-movie star who introduced a generation of stoned teen boys to the virtues of Hong Kong directors like Hark Tsui and John Woo or annoying Belgian martial arts moron who can't deliver a line -- JCVD will change that. This visually stunning, exciting, thoughtful and funny french language film was shot on a relatively low budget, but makes good use of the streets of Brussels and it's now-slightly-weathered leading man. Referencing Van Damme's actual career, the writers (Frederic Benudis, Mabrouk El Merchri- who also directed) pulled no punches in showing just what the life of an over-the-hill action man might entail. The opening scene (a stunning one shot) has Van Damme work his way through a back lot war zone, karate chopping and faux-face-kicking soldier after soldier, only to have prop failures and a bored director foil his performance in this film-within-a-film. This leads to the heart of the story, Van Damme's American ex-wife is suing him for custody of his estranged tween daughter (very close to real life from my understanding), his lawyers want money, his agent can't land him a decent role, so he's on his way back to Belgium a broken man. Of course when he enters a local post office, should you be surprised when gun shots ring out and he tells the police he's holding the unlucky people inside for ransom? Anymore would give too much of the plot away, but it includes a monologue delivered and written by Van Damme that would break the heart of even the most blase mumbblecore devote, and a refreshingly realistic twist to the finale. Make sure you stick to the subtitled track, the dubbed cut is painful to say the least. Mind you, I have a history of pushing artsy French action films, but this time the critics agree.

It's not often that a film adaptation drives me to go buy a popular novel and promptly get hooked -- Night Watch, Hellboy, and now Let the Right One In are the only examples I can think of. Let the Right One in hit the festival circuit around the same time Twilight opened in theaters, but the two films share only the briefest of vampire trappings. While Twilight's picture-perfect teen blood suckers try to tame their (blood)lust and play super human baseball for fun, Let the Right One In's sole creature of the night is an unkempt twelve year old girl who is more passionate about solving Rubix Cubes than in practicing her attractive pout. Set in the early 80's in a Suburb of Stockholm (think what Jersey is to NYC) young Oskar is a middle school looser, his classmates tease and bully him horribly, the teachers ignore his existence. His clingy mother and caring but dysfunctional, estranged father certainly don't help. While Oskar dreams of revenge, he notices the new neighbors who have moved in next door in their generic, middle class housing development are not quite normal. They arrived by cab in the dark of night, their windows are covered with blankets, neither "father" Hakan nor "daughter" Eli are often seen outside and certainly aren't friendly when they are. Hakan seems to engage in the activities of a serial killer (though he bungles most everything) and Eli stalks Oskar in the playground at night, undaunted by the icy cold of the Swedish winter, and continues to pursue him even after claiming they "can't be friends." In time, Oskar befriends Eli, only to have her reveal that she is a vampire of sorts, never getting older and requiring the fresh blood of human beings to survive, she also can not enter a home without being asked (the director has no qualms about graphically illustrating just what happens if she tries). There is a romance of sorts between Eli and Oskar, though in the least romantic sense, and it's hard to say if Eli is lonely or reserving Oskar for a snack. Their story is told on the back drop of a society which projects a clean image but is decrepit underneath -- in this lovely suburban lie the school children are monsters who attempt to drown Oskar in an icy lake during a field trip, the neighbors are derelict drunks, parents are useless. Beautifully directed and shot by Thomas Alfredson with well placed visual effects, this grim, violent, piercing adaptation streamlines J. A. Lindqvist's (also the screenwriter) brick of novel while still retaining the essence. I have a feeling this one will stay with me for a while.

Fan Favorite Mamoru Oshii's latest venture, Sky Crawlers, didn't attract the sort of worshipful response his animated outings usually garner. Slow paced, almost mundane in its approach to its not-quite sci fi environment, I can understand why. However, that is not the issue I had. While the rambling plot with its complex themes and nostalgic aura kept me interested, I found the photo-realistic CGI jarring in contrasts to the delicate, etherial 2D animation. In a world without war Yuichi is a perpetual youth, a pilot who flies fake missions for television ratings to keep the minds of a bored public off the threat of real war. Dubbed Kildren, these genetically engineered entertainers live empty lives, filling in the time between dogfights with smoking, drinking and the occasional outing with a prostitute. Not much seems to bother Yuichi about this, even when he is stationed at a new base his only real curiosity is what happened to the owner of the plane he's been assigned to. The thing is, there is plenty of of weird going on -- Yuichi's new commander looks a bit like a Kildren herself, she tends toward odd ticks like picking up discarded matches and telling her own daughter they are "sisters" to explain away the age discrepancy. The other pilots are odd too, from the jaded OCD, paper reading, albino to Yuichi's hard drinking roommate. And why does everyone keep commenting on the disappearance of Jinro, the pilot Yuichi has replaced? Based on the book by Hiroshi Mori, Oishii's presence is felt throughout, right down to the trademark hound dog hanging around the airplane hanger. CGI aside, this is one hell of a picture. Anime meets French Bande Dessine of the Corto Maltse ilk.

Guest Review! Terminator: Salvation

Full disclosure: The Terminator trilogy has never interested me. I really don’t know why but if I have to guess, it probably has something to do with the existence of Eddie Furlong. Yes, I know he was only in T2 (Terminator Two) but his smug presence still lingers over the franchise like a droopy eyed rain cloud.

It wasn’t until Christian Bale’s notorious meltdown on the set of Terminator Salvation that I started to realize the full potential of these Terminator films. Bale’s little blooper combined two things I demand to see in every movie: horrible assholes screaming their lungs out and very intense discussions about lighting. I was looking forward to a film in which Bale wanders around an apocalyptic hell-scape verbally assaulting any android that’s stupid enough to get his latte order wrong or accidentally give him full eye contact. Unfortunately, Terminator Salvation turned out to be nothing at all like I expected. But once I got over my initial disappointment the film turned out to be an entertaining summer movie. In fact, it’s far better than any movie directed by McG should be.

Stumbling awkwardly out of the gate, Terminator Salvation opens with a decidedly odd prologue involving a death row inmate named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who donates his body to a sinister scientist (Helena Bonham Carter, inexplicably) but not before he mocks her cancer and makes out with her. Yeah. Sure. These things happen I guess. At any rate, the story picks up several years in the future; Skynet has destroyed most of humanity in a nuclear war. As the previous films have predicted, an adult John Connor must lead the human resistance against the machines. This time, however, the machines plan on killing John’s father (Anton Yelchin) who for some reason or another is a teenager that’s stuck in the current apocalyptic timeline. Complicating matters is the strange reappearance of Marcus who isn’t sure where he is, why he’s still alive or what role he plays in the resistance.

Make no mistake about it Terminator Salvation is a big dumb action movie and like most big dumb action movies the film is engaging as long as it sticks to its frenetic set-pieces. Once it strays into more subtle character based territory the film stumbles badly (particularly any scene that involves the uninteresting and bland Marcus character). The film also seems to struggle with the pretense that it’s something more than it actually is. There are a handful of distasteful and ill-advised allusions to the Holocaust that are completely out of place. Especially considering that they’re preceded by footage of a giant robot with a gun for a head as it launches motorcycles out of its shins. Terminator Salvation also boasts some hilariously clumsy callbacks to the early Terminator films. Case in point: there’s a scene where Bale announces he’ll “be back.” The moment is handled so awkwardly I’m surprised he didn’t wink at the camera and shout “wocka wocka."

At this point, I realize that it sounds like I hated this movie. I didn’t. In fact I really liked it. It’s fast paced, some of the performances are strong and the cinematography has an unsettling washed out quality. It may not be a good movie but it’s consistently entertaining and for a summer movie that’s good enough. Oh and one final note, I also really liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so understand that this recommendation also functions as a warning.

Mike Sullivan

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Miscellanous News and Plugs

I'm currently hard at work on the next issue of SHOCK CINEMA -- digging up more obscure flicks to review and filling up the first few interviews slots -- but wanted to take a moment to give you a heads-up on a few unrelated tidbits...

First off, it's JERRY LEWIS WEEK at Chris Poggiali's terrific TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK Blog. In celebration of Jer's recent 83rd birthday -- March 16 -- Chris is running plenty of cool articles and pics devoted to the life and legacy of Le Imbecile Magnifique, including a lengthy review contributed by yours truly -- a look back at Lewis' unforgettable 1976 appearance on the live morning-talk-show A.M. NEW YORK, which culminated in a segment on 'new gadgets' and a visit from Screw Magazine magnate Al Goldstein to show off the latest high-tech toys -- with Jerry at his side!

You can check out my review at:

If you enjoyed Steve Ryfle's interview with the delightful Ms. Linda Haynes in the current issue of SHOCK CINEMA, you might want to stop by the SciFi Japan website for their much-appreciated plug for that Q&A -- which also includes several rare LATITUDE ZERO photos from Ms. Haynes personal collection (which we, unfortunately, didn't have room to run in the magazine):

Also, Troma just announced a new 2-disc Special Edition of one of my all-time favorite films, Buddy Giovinazzo's Staten Island masterpiece COMBAT SHOCK, which hits store on 7/28/09. The set includes loads of new material, including Buddy's 100-minute, AMERICAN NIGHTMARES-cut of the film; a new 40-minute documentary on its underground following, including interviews with Bill Lustig, Jim Van Bebber, John McNaughton, and even THE GORE GAZETTE's Rick Sullivan (who came out of hiding for the occasion!); Buddy's short-film MR. ROBBIE, a.k.a. MANIAC 2, starring Joe Spinnell, plus liner notes written by Steven Puchalski (yesiree, li'l ol' me).

On that note, it's back to work... And my sincere thanks to everyone who shelled out their hard-earned cash to purchase the latest SC and help keep indie print media alive.

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Release! Coraline reviewed by Guest Writer Mike Sullivan

I hate making fun of Hot Topic. It’s not because I buy my “Twilight” hoodies and man mascara there but because the store is such a big, fat mopey target. I mean, everybody makes fun of this place. Pointing out that Hot Topic sells rebellion to undiscerning 14 year olds is like pointing out that airplane food is often unappetizing. It’s an obvious observation that ceased being funny or insightful several years ago.

Yet as obvious as this observation can be it still bears repeating because Hot Topic is a truly horrible store. My main issue with this place is the fact that they’ve managed to turn “The Nightmare Before Christmas” into a grating, Goth fetish object. When I watch this movie I no longer see Henry Selick’s intricate stop-motion animation, I can only see the sneering faces of several million morbidly obese girls in Betty Page bangs. It’s tragic and it will happen again. It’s only a matter of time before Selick’s latest effort, “Coraline,” is co-opted and ruined by a store that sells summer scarves. So please, do me a huge favor and see “Coraline” before it’s turned into an ugly, ubiquitous tchotchke.

Based on a 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman (Yeah, I know. But don’t judge a book by its insufferably pretentious author), “Coraline”, not surprisingly, tells the story of Coraline Jones (the voice of Dakota Fanning) a needy and somewhat bratty pre-teen who moves with her distracted parents (John Hodgman and a surprisingly good Teri Hatcher) to an apartment in a seedy old house. With her parents busy writing a gardening catalogue, a bored Coraline starts to feel neglected until she stumbles upon a secret door in her living room. The door leads to an impossibly perfect mirror universe where she finds her “Other Parents” (Hodgman and Hatcher again) a perma-grinned couple with black buttons for eyes who claim to be Coraline’s real parents. Although initially charmed by her new, fun parents, Coraline grows apprehensive when their true intentions are revealed.

Like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (as well as “The Corpse Bride”) “Coraline” is a painstakingly crafted mini-epic that ably balances unfettered creepiness with genuine whimsy (both of which is on generous display during the opening credits sequence). However, unlike “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, the storyline is as well crafted as the stop-motion imagery. I particularly liked the fact that some of the script’s goofier throwaway details (like a cannon that shoots cotton candy, a collection of stuffed, bewinged Scotty dogs and a tractor/preying mantis/helicopter hybrid) play more sinister and significant roles later on. Odd, droll and, at times, surprisingly scary, “Coraline” is everything a kids film should be. Oh , by the way even though the film was shot in the amazing, miracle process of 3-D, it actually functions better without the distracting gimmick.

-- Mike Sullivan

Sunday, February 1, 2009

L Change the World

L Change the World (2006) Hideo Nakata

I admit to having gone through an uncharacteristic (for me) love affair with all things Death Note. Mind you, the usual rule of thumb is that if I like a property it is doomed to be a failure, universally hated or leave people scratching their heads. Not so here! Death Note was a phenomenon in its native Japan, banned in China and controversial but hugely popular in the US.

I quite enjoyed Death Note I and II (see Shock Cinema Magazine #33) and was excited when one of my birthday gifts turned out to be the third film in the franchise. Some movie-savvy friends who attended a very early US screening of L reported back that it was "boring" and "confusing, and granted, if you haven't seen the other Death Note films or read the manga, no doubt that is an apt reaction to this complex, ongoing story line. The L novel, which was not written by either of the creators of the manga, is the only book in the series that I have not read, so I can't speak for the adaptation in this case. The first two films strayed from the manga but not to the detriment of the story telling, my guess is that the same methods were employed here. I'm not a hardcore fan who thinks an great adaptation is a pedantically accurate one.

The production values and cartoony CGI elements are the same high quality as the previous films, as is the acting. While I still feel the best performances of the series came in the form of Yagami Light and his police chief father (both rolls diminished here to video footage in the backgrounds), Quirky detective L is at top form, acting weird, being a jerk and eating enough sugar to make even a hard core junk-food addict swear off sweets for good. That Ken'ichi Matsuyama can actually carry a film without the benefit of more seasoned performers surrounding him (Tatsuya Fujiwara starred in Battle Royal before playing Light as well as a host of other projects for a fairly young guy, and Takeshi Kaga is a legend) makes me more interested to see him in the upcoming Detroit Metal City. Shunji Fujiura returns briefly as Watari, the Alfred to L's Bruce Wayne, before being dispatched much the way he was in Death Note II.

This story takes place just after film two ends. L, "the world's greatest detective" has twenty days left to live (it has to do with the way he solved the mystery of the first two films, I won't try to explain) and yet there is a weaponized virus on the loose and a group of eco-terrorists that must be stopped before his time is up! Worked into this mix is a small Thai boy-genius who is immune to the bio-weapon plague, a teenybopper who's father is a brilliant Virologist, and said virologist's sexy co-worker Dr Kujo (and ultimately the baddy of the story) played by Youki Kudoh -- the Karaoke belting kid of Sogo Ishi's 'Crazy Family' - all grown up and lovely (but still crazy!). Since this plot is not driven by the Death Note device, the weird-shit-factor in the form of the CGI Shinigami are kept to minimum, a cameo even, which is a shame because I really got a kick out of Ryuk's excellent voice actor, Shido Nakamura. Be warned that, as the rule in third sequels, the kids factory in pretty heavy -- not Mad Max Beyond Tunderdome heavy, but still... Also, it seems odd to tack such a happy, positive message to a series that is characteristic for projecting an ugly, cynical view of the human race and stars a character who you know perfectly well is doomed because you saw him die in the previous film. Hmmm. Director Nakata (Honogurai mizu no soko kara- Dark Water, Ringu), does what he can with the material and keeps it moving along - no small feat considering it clocks in over two hours long - but certainly not his most dynamic attempt either. One does get the feeling this veteran horror film director relished the flesh-eating-virus scenes. Nice cinematography by Tokusho Kimura (Ju-on, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Cure) ties the visuals together. Certainly an entertaining addition, but really this is aimed at the Death Note fans, newcomers would do better to start elsewhere.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodbye, Number Six...

In my editorial for the upcoming SHOCK CINEMA #36 (which, FYI, is going onto the printing presses on Monday, 1/19, and will hopefully start shipping out to subscribers and stores on 1/28), I discuss all of the notable people who've passed away in the last few months. Unfortunately, that list just continues to grow in this new year. In 2009, we've already lost RAT PFINK A BOO BOO director Ray Dennis Steckler and the versatile Edmund Purdom (who was interviewed for SHOCK CINEMA by Harvey J. Chartrand back in #24) -- in addition to one of my all-time favorite actors, Patrick McGoohan, who died on January 13 at the age of 80.

From early screen roles in the gritty trucker-drama HELL DRIVERS and the Othello-inspired jazz-tale ALL NIGHT LONG, to later gigs such as David Cronenberg's SCANNERS and Alexis Kanner's under-appreciated hostage-drama KINGS AND DESPERATE MEN, McGoohan continually proved that he was one of the coolest men alive. He won two Emmys for his scene-stealing guest gigs on COLUMBO, starred in the pre-007 secret agent series DANGER MAN, and was the guiding force behind one of the greatest programs ever made, THE PRISONER. Although McGoohan's career was certainly successful, he never became the superstar that Hollywood had envisioned -- as they promoted him in this rather silly, March 1961 newspaper advertisement, teasing the upcoming premiere of DANGER MAN.

My first encounter with McGoohan's work was when 1962's THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH played on THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY. I was only a little tyke, but my parents bought me the 45 lp of its creepy title theme and I played that record until it almost wore out (almost as much I played The Beatles' single for TWIST AND SHOUT, which was given to me by a much-cooler older cousin -- since my tone-deaf parents were more into Lawrence Welk, Boots Randolph and Ray Conniff). Of course, I didn't know who the heck McGoohan was, but the movie itself was unforgettable -- exciting, scary, dramatic, and nothing like the crapola that Disney foists onto the public nowadays.

Many years later, while attending Syracuse University, I discovered McGoohan's revolutionary 1967 TV-series THE PRISONER, (if you've never seen it, shame on you). Alas, in this pre-VCR era, it was almost impossible to see the show, since it hadn't been broadcast on US stations in several years. Luckily, I just happened to be the Film Coordinator for one of the largest campus film programs in the country, so the answer seemed quite logical -- I'd rent 16mm prints of the series, straight from the show's original distributor ITC, and run an all-night PRISONER Festival during the Fall 1981 semester. It only ran 17 episodes -- which, minus all of those pesky commercials, boiled down to 'only' 14 hours. It ran from early-Saturday-evening to late-Sunday-morning, and a surprisingly-large crowd of fanatics stuck it out from beginning to grueling end.

A few years later, I had a chance to see McGoohan on-stage during his 1985 Broadway stint in Hugh Whitemore's PACK OF LIES. While autographing the Xeroxed program booklet for our PRISONER Festival, he remarked: "You watched all of them... In one night? That's insane." No, it was simply our small tribute to his mind-blowing series.

Oh, and if anyone can dig up a copy of McGoohan's big-screen directorial debut, the 1974 Richie Havens rock-musical CATCH MY SOUL, please, please drop me a line. I've wanted to review it in SHOCK CINEMA for nearly 20 years, but the film is completely M.I.A. -- and I'm still kicking myself for not renting it back in my University Union days, when New Line Cinema had a non-theatrical 16mm print for college screenings (under the title SANTA FE SATAN).

Friday, January 9, 2009


Emily of New Moon, Season 1: This 1998, Canadian made television series followed on the heels of the successful Anne of Green Gables production, perhaps a bit misguidedly, as Emily was never as popular a series of novels as Anne. It is easy to compare the two properties, what with their vast similarities (Prince Edward Island, Orphans, aspiring writers), and Emily makes its best attempt to fill Anne's massive shoes. Michael Moriarty guests as Emily's doomed romantic of a father early on, and the cast is filled out in his absence with a stunning array of character actors including Phyllis Diller(!?!). The producers had thought it wise, apparently, to cast the younger version of sickly, brunette, grim Emily of the books with a rosy cheeked blond who grips her pet kitten while smiling sweetly at her mother's ghost. As the series progresses, this is corrected with Martha McIsaac's (of Superbad fame) black braids, a detail even a recent anime adaptation managed to get right from the start. Despite the brighter, 'American Girl' treatment, Emily of New Moon can not escape it's source material -- LM Montgomery's Gothy follow up to her famous Anne -- full of ghosts, shadows of death and insinuations to darker themes like murder, abuse and betrayal. All that considered this could have been a very exciting project indeed, but never fully takes advantage of its macabre potential. It's no wonder that audiences longing for another nostalgic, victorian, Anne of Green Gables-esq experience were put off by this cruel and disturbing view of turn-of-the-century Canadian life, while the low production values and the mundane script adaptation failed to grasp the more discerning viewer who might be unfamiliar with the original books. While I may seek out the other seasons as releases them, I have a feeling that the Emily, Girl of the Wind animated series might hold my attention longer than this (assuming it ever gets a US release). The Japanese love LM Montgomery almost as much as Canadians do, apparently.

(It has been brought to my attention that this is pretty far flung from our normal viewing and reviewing, but hey -- inking comics can be mind numbing work that requires loads of bad TV and Cinema, and sometimes I need to get it out of my system, you lucky readers you! Hey I could wax poetic about watching Dawn of the Dead for the billionth time like every other movie blogger on the interwebs....)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Recent Netflix Views:


I'll admit to being easily drawn into historical epics and revisionist westerns, Mongol bridges both in it's approach to biographical/historic material. A bio-pic about Genghis Khan, from birth to height of adulthood. This Khazic co-production was directed by Russian born Sergei Bodrov with glorious, sweeping cinematography befitting of the subject matter. Nominated for best foreign film in 2008 it lost to German period piece The Counterfeiter. Tadanobu Asano stars as Temudjin (pre-Genghis) hereditary Kahn who's family was over thrown, and the young chief-to-be thrown into a life of slavery, escape and struggle before coming into his own. Throughout he is driven by the love of his life Borte played by newcomer Khulan Chuluun, who bears the children of other men, bargains with hostiles and always keeps the home fires burning for her husband, and more, the man she believes will change Mongol forever. As always Tadanobu Asano delivers a strong performance, but it is Chuluun who stands out in this stellar cast. In the wake of post-Soviet hits Nochnoi Dozer and Dnevnoy Dozer, the industry seems to be blossoming, at top speed no less, with big budget, FX savvy films, and I hope very much to see more of the same. I waited a while to get my mitts on Mongol and I was not disappointed.

(fancy image courtesy of the official movie site: