Some recent viewings:
Howling (2012, Yoo Ha)
A rather odd combination of thriller and horror from South-Korea, with some unfocused social comment thrown in for (not so) good measure. During a routine investigation, an experienced police officer (played by Song Kang-ho, if you don’t know his name you’ll recognize his face) discovers some bite marks on the corpse of a man who supposedly killed himself. His rookie partner (a young woman who is struggling to be accepted within the force) then finds out that there’s a rampant wolf dog at work and what’s more: that somebody has trained the animal to kill. For what reason?
With its convoluted story involving spontaneous combustion, child abuse, sexism and revenge Howling suffers from an overly busy script, but somehow the whole things remains entertaining throughout
Princess Aurora (2005, Bang Eun-jin)
Again South-Korea. Released the same year as (and often compared to) Park Chan-wook’s far more successful Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. A young woman seeks revenge for her six years old daughter, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a man who was - due to the smart work of his defense attorney - transferred to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail. Initially it looks too much like a cruel, senseless vigilante movie, but eventually turns into a poignant and unsettling tale about rage, despair, justice and injustice. And yes, it’s hard not to sympathize with the young woman.
Princess Aurora is not as stylish and sophisticated as Lady Vengeance, but as a statement about Korea’s cold and clinical legal system, it’s probably even more powerful.
Babe (1995, Chris Noonan)
A rewatch. It’s hard to resist this comedy-drama about the piglet that wants to be a dog, if only to escape from the inevitable fate of all piglets: one day they will be eaten by humans. Not as funny as I remembered, but beautifully done and heartwarming. Co-written and co-produced by George Miller, the man behind the Mad Max franchise
The Snowman (2017, Tomas Alfredson)
An adaptation of the successful crime novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. It was almost unanimously panned by critics and I watched it because I wanted to know how they had managed to concoct a boring movie out of a very effective crime novel
The novel is not a masterpiece, but it’s a well-told and cleverly plotted thriller which also features several interesting, remarkably multi-layered characters, notably the female detective, an ambitious but headstrong woman who was recently transferred from Bergen to Oslo and seems to have some personal interest in the case. In the movie the character is almost completely stripped from importance and there’s hardly any interaction between her and her male colleague, played by Michael Fassbinder. It was exactly the character’s background and her interaction with her colleague which propelled the story in Nesbø 's book. What we’re left with, is a serial killer movie of sorts, well-shot on location in Norway, but devoid of any real suspense.