Monday 3 July 2023

Bifan: Fun in the sun

After rain and clouds on the first two days, which I'm told is normal for Seoul this time of year, Saturday was clear blue sky, which made it even hotter (but thankfully a but less humid). I'm enjoying the brief windows between films, usually around two hours, to explore the streets of Bucheon and try out the local food, which is delicious. These days are perfect for big bowls of cold noodles. Meanwhile, Bifan continues to offer up films from around the world - our international jury has been travelling quite a bit. Three more competition films are below, after another film I'd seen earlier...

Infinity Pool
dir-scr Brandon Cronenberg; with Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth 23/Canada ***
Gleefully gruesome, this bonkers horror thriller touches on serious ideas that give it a wonderful sense of something much bigger. Although writer-director Brandon Cronenberg is more focussed on visually arresting imagery than mining the material for something unnervingly resonant. That said, there's a terrific sense of menace, and it's all so personal and internalised that it can't help but work its way under the skin. As it were... FULL REVIEW >

The Seeding
dir-scr Barney Clay; with Scott Haze, Kate Lyn Sheil 23/US ***.
Skilfully creating an atmosphere of claustrophobic dread, writer-director Barney Clay echoes a range of wilderness horror classics to create a modern-day folk tale. Nothing is terribly original here, but the movie has a confident sheen, building sympathetic characters against the odds as it cautions against venturing into isolated, and insulated, parts of the American West.

Bad Education
dir Kai Ko; with Kent Tsai, Berant Zhu 22/Taiwan ****
An electrically charged sense of pitch-black humour runs through this genre mashup from Taiwan, which throws three teens into a series of unspeakable situations. While sending their characters on an odyssey that mixes high school comedy with Tarantino-style violence, director Kai Ko and writer Giddens Ko continually examine what it means to be a good or bad person. Full of prickly dialog and unexpected nastiness, the film's wry sense of humour makes it worth a look.

dir Karoline Lyngbye; with Marie Bach Hansen, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard 23/Denmark ***.
Strikingly well shot and edited, this Danish thriller has a premise that's intriguing and entertaining, tapping into some pungent themes relating to identity and gender politics. So it's a bit frustrating that the writing and direction leave absolutely nothing to chance, carefully identifying every plot nuance and therefore eliminating most of the possible surprises. This tidy approach also leaves the deeper ideas feeling oddly undercooked.

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