Capsule film reviews: “Decision to leave”, “Holy Spider” and “Aftersun”

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With the preponderance of international films vying for a variety of accolades, including the coveted Academy Award as well as the US Gotham and International Press Academy Awards, I have chosen three particularly award-winning films.

“DECISION TO LEAVE”
Directed by: Park Chan Wook
With: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei, Lee Jung-hyun

Did he jump off the mountain or was it a climbing accident or was this successful middle-aged businessman pushed a bit by Song Seo-rae, his beautiful, young and mysterious well-played wife by Tang Wei, whose sexuality is palpable This is the beginning of a complicated spiraling trajectory of events trapping a seasoned, if bored, married detective, Hae-joon, played intensely by Park Hae-il. He soon finds himself caught in a web of obsessive attraction invading every aspect of his life. With the death of her second husband, the detective’s obsession with this woman seems mutual. Is it mutual or is she manipulating him? Superbly directed by Park Chan-wook, who won Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this extraordinary neo-noir film delves deep into the obsessive behavior of its characters with a haunting denouement that’s almost lyrical in its grandeur. With subtle reminders of the filmmaking style of the late Alfred Hitchcock, the brilliant, multi-award-winning DECISION TO LEAVE is South Korea’s official entry for the Best Feature Film Oscar. international.

“DECISION TO LEAVE”
Directed by: Park Chan-wook
With: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei, Lee Jung-hyun
Written by: Park Chan-wook & CHUNG Seo-kyung
Director of photography: KIM Ji-yong
Music: Yeong-wook Jo
Edited by: Sang-beom Kim
Languages: Korean and Mandarin with English subtitles
Duration: 138 minutes
Unclassified
(Currently in local cinemas, including the Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica.)

“HOLY SPIDER”
Directed by: Ali Abbassi
Written by: Ali Abbasi & Afshin Bahrami
With: Zar Amir Ebrahimi & Medhi Bajestani

Iranian investigative journalist Rahimi, hauntingly played by Zar Amir Ebrahimi, is intrigued by a serial killer in the holy city of Mashhad. Despite the challenges she faces as a journalist and the machinations she must employ to get the facts, she insists on questioning the authorities about the ongoing murders of women of the night. Under the intense direction of Ali Abbasi, we learn that the very religious killer, Saeed Hanaei, well played by Medhi Bajestani, believes he is doing God’s work in ridding the streets of these evil women. His modus operandi is consistent in that as he cruises the dark streets on his motorbike, he shows money enticing women to board, how often he takes them to his house where he offers them a drink and then strangled. As the body count increases, he is dubbed the “Spider Killer”, with some locals even embracing him as a hero. With the police being rather lax in bringing the murderer to justice, Rahimi comes up with her own plan which could be dangerous, but thinking she has reinforcements to protect herself, she puts her idea into action with potentially deadly results. HOLY SPIDER is based on a true story of the real serial killer named Saeed Hanaei, who during his two-year crime spree killed more than a dozen women. This intriguing thriller, Denmark’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Oscar, is one that will keep you on the edge of your seats. He’s being greeted as a hero and it looks like he won’t be held accountable for his actions, right?

“HOLY SPIDER”
Directed by: Ali Abbassi
Written by: Ali Abbasi & Afshin Bahrami
With: Zar Amir Ebrahimi & Medhi Bajestani
Director of photography: Nadim Carlsen
Edited by: Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Music: Martin Dirkov
Languages: Persian
Duration: 117 minutes
Unclassified
Check your local theater listings or “JustWatch” for possible
continuous information.
(Danish submission for Oscar consideration for
Best International Feature Film

“AFTER SUN”
Written and directed by: Charlotte Wells
With: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio & Celia Rowlson-Hall

Charlotte Wells’ film ‘Aftersun’, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, is a nostalgic step back in time 20 years after 11-year-old Sophie, brilliantly played by newcomer Frankie Corio and her mischievous father Calum, skillfully played by Paul Mescal, spent an unforgettable vacation together at a Turkish seaside resort in the 1990s. Looking through old photos and camcorder recordings, now-adult Sophie, played by Celia Rowlson-Hall, relives that special moment with her father. He was a free spirit who introduced him to experiences he might have been missing, like playing computer games in a game room or doing Tai Chi on the beach or dancing to pulsating music in a club or tasting an ice cream, or meditate or simply cuddle her. in her arms. Their relationship is complex and in retrospect, the great Sophie, whose parents are now divorced, tries to pick up all the pieces by reconciling her memories with today’s dad. Underlying the moments of joy, although we don’t know the root cause, there is also a deep sadness emanating from Dad. She remembers him smoking quietly on the terrace deep in thought or wading in the ocean late at night. Despite the laughter, Dad seems to have a hint of melancholy. As the camera zooms in on scenes of their relationship, we see the love and warmth between them and the special love father and daughter have for each other. This film received rave reviews, but that said, there are technical elements that I found challenging. For example, some scenes were shot with a handheld camera which resulted in rather jerky takes while other very brief scenes did not seem to have any connection with the previous scenes. However, all is forgiven for this young director, who clearly has the sensitivity to become a director whose future films are eagerly awaited.

“AFTER SUN”
Written and directed by: Charlotte Wells
With: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio & Celia Rowlson-Hall
Director of photography: Gregory Oke
Music: Oliver Coates
Edited by: Blair McClendon
Music: Oliver Coates
Language: English (UK)
Duration: 102 minutes
To classify
Check your local theater listings and JustWatch

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