Culture

South China Morning Post
  1. The medieval town of Kilkenny in the southeast of Ireland is an unlikely home for a perennial Oscar contender. But there, among cathedral spires and castle parapets, the animation studio Cartoon Saloon has carved out a factory of hand-drawn artistry and local folklore that has persisted and flourished well beyond its creators’ expectations.When Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, directors of the enchanting Oscar-nominee Wolfwalkers, met growing up in Kilkenny – or even after they finished college and…
  2. South Korea can be a tough place to live, and while some series will occasionally gloss over that fact, more often than not the prosaic difficulties of life there are woven deeply into the fabric of the stories that unfold on screen.Viewers find them relatable and empathise with the characters, but normally such a storyline is counterbalanced by aspirational or fantastical elements – the perfect romance or a David vs Goliath story, often both.Then there are shows that start roughly at the same…
  3. 2.5/5 starsForgiveness is the message in this faith-based family drama by Wong Ping-hung, a veteran Hong Kong cinematographer whose filmmaking career stalled when he lost the use of both legs in a traffic accident in 2008. Directing from a script he co-wrote with Elaine Li Wai-yee, Wong’s effort offers a wholesome and mostly undemanding watch for both Christians and non-Christians alike.The movie also finds a major part for film industry veteran Anthony Chan Yau, who had been absent from the…
  4. American historian Steven Schwankert clearly recalls the day in 1997 when he watched the blockbuster movie Titanic in a crowded, smoke-filled cinema in Beijing.“The cinema experience back then wasn’t great,” says Schwankert, on a Zoom call from his home in Beijing. “It was like watching a movie in your tiny high school gymnasium. The sound wasn’t great and the film was slightly out of focus … and there wasn’t any popcorn.”Fast forward more than two decades and documentary The Six, the untold…
  5. 2/5 starsA life-affirming sports drama conceived with the best intentions, this melancholy movie on life’s regrets and disappointments nevertheless struggles to engage with its borderline amateurish script, which feels unnatural at every turn and seems a few drafts away from being ready for a mainstream movie production with its narrative aspirations.Tony Wu Tsz-tung (Men on the Dragon) plays Lee Chi-hang, a 30-something property agent and perennial loser who regularly comes last in his company…
  6. 2/5 starsFurther proof that South Korea still has a way to go to create a truly successful science fiction film, Seobok is yet another quasi-philosophical melodrama masquerading as a futuristic action thriller. Not even the superstar pairing of heartthrobs Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum can administer the life-saving adrenaline shot Lee Yong-joo’s rambling road movie so desperately needs.It’s almost an achievement unto itself how wide of the mark Seobok falls, as all the necessary elements for a…
  7. Three-time Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho thinks filmmakers have to do their part to help stamp out hate and racism.The Parasite director recently served as a masterclass guest lecturer for Chapman University’s Dodge College, sharing his thoughts regarding America’s current racial turmoil and discussing what choices the film industry has to confront social issues.Addressing recent racially-charged violence in the US — including the March 16 mass shooting at Atlanta spas that left eight…
  8. There can be no doubt this has been the strangest awards season in the history of cinema (as well as the longest, thanks to the Oscars being forced to move to April because of the pandemic).Ordinarily, the idea of a couple of extra months’ worth of actors “campaigning” is enough to make even the most dedicated film fan weep into their copy of Vanity Fair. But this season has seen some real moments for celebration and contemplation, despite cinemas being shut all over the world for much of the…
  9. A snow globe shaped like an ambulance siren encasing a glass Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building stands starkly against a blurred background of red flowers. Alarm bells sound as the image slowly turns into that of a forlorn, bespectacled man wearing a crestfallen expression. The scene, a metaphor for the pitfalls of pursuing the American dream, captures the essence of the short film Magic Kingdom, directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Nelson Ng Chak-hei and co-written by Nicholas Shay…
  10. 3/5 starsA gangster with nothing to live for and a young woman with just days to live cross paths in Night in Paradise, Park Hoon-jung’s assured, if too familiar, crime drama. Melding two genres ubiquitous in Korean cinema – the gangland revenge thriller and the terminal illness romance – the film offers precious few surprises, but fans of either genre should gain ample sustenance from this tear-stained, blood-splattered odyssey.Park’s film owes a huge debt to Takeshi Kitano’s offbeat yakuza…