Tag Archives: injustice

Silenced: Korean Courtroom Drama

So, stereotypically, when it comes to Korean films, I watch horror and thrillers. It’s not often I stray from that path and end up watching something unique and beautiful like I did with this. Based on a true story, Silenced is a film about the injustice and legal accusations of a school of deaf children against their abusive and molesting faculty. This movie hits you hard with its brutality and tugs at your heartstrings with the emotions the child actors show in their voiceless anguish. Not what I was expecting, and so wonderfully done I don’t want to forget it. This movie could very well impact your life.

The basic premise of this film. Kang In-Ho (Gong Yoo) is a mild mannered teacher of

The utter grace of sign language, in all languages.

the deaf who comes to a new school. Working for his daughter with severe asthma and his mother (his wife has passed on), Kang In-Ho is forced to pay 50 million Won (50,000 in American dough) in order to work at the school, “without complications”. After noticing some strange activities, including the beating of a young male student, Kang In-Ho must do something.

And do something he shall. Enlisting the help of a civil rights worker named Yoo-Jin (Jung Yu-Mi), the duo brings to court the cases of three students, all tragically tainted by their experiences at school, and without the power to voice their cries. The added element of sign language in this film creates more of an impact when silent tears roll down the children’s faces.

Shocked into silence.

The acting in this film was phenomenal (as might be expected from the film festival reviews) and the dark atmosphere was superbly coupled with the cinematography. The subject matter is heavy and troubling, but you really get a chance to connect to the characters in the film and care about their well being. Hats off to any child actor who can deal with a role like this in a professional context. It has been a while since I’ve seen this, but I always enjoy a courtroom drama, and this one delivered on so many levels. The outcome is surprising as well.

What really sums up this movie is the message at the end. This being about real events, this movie was out to make people aware of the atrocities mankind commits on mankind. The troubling scenes and the feelings of hatred and injustice that spill throughout this movie make it for an emotional watch, but it is well worth it if you care about the issues at hand in this film. (It helps if you like Asian films as well.) Don’t know much else to say about this, other than to watch it ASAP. I’ll give Silenced more than a whisper on my rating scale: 8.4 out of 10.

Heartbreaking.

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13 Assassins: The Eerie 7 Samurai Brother

Brought to the international market by the famous producer of Departures, a famous film talked about in my household, Toshiaki Nakazawa, and given to me by the power of Netflix, comes 13 Assassins. I know I just did a review on a movie called Bodyguards and Assassins, but this movie comes from a similar historical (loosely based) standpoint with a lot of no nonsense action to it. And I mean a lot of no nonsense, balls to the walls action. There’s not a lot interspersed, as with B&A, but it delivers in the end with a huge ass scene of carnage.

Set in the 1840s Japan during the era of the feudal Shogun, a young political rapscallion, Matsudaira Naritsugu is running train all over the place. Son of the former Shogun and bound to rise in his political standing, this evil young man thinks he cannot die and is above the law. He even made a nugget sex slave out of a poor little Japanese woman. Hard to watch and hard to

Quite a bit of violence in this movie. Good costumes too.

stomache, some have even committed  seppuku, the ritualistic Japanese honorable suicide. Shown twice in the movie, it is an unpleasant act that, I have to say was tastefully done with the pull away shot that just suggests at the horror of slitting open your own stomach forcefully.

So this young man must be stopped. An aged samurai and political figure, Shinzaemon is planning on doing so. After seeing the injustices done on other family houses, no longer will those under the power of the Shogun stand for his little brother’s insolence. So, in true 7 Samurai fashion, this guy goes out and finds 13 samurai, the last of a dying occupation, in order to do the job. These guys range widely in status and character, but they all plan on fufilling their duty with conviction and honor.

Can you tell who's who?

After some awful background on this political Shogun relative bastard, the training montage begins. Not really a training montage, but a recruitment scene and subsequent honing of the skills. Followed closely by a planning stage and execution of said plan, we get a little trip to the site of the final (and really only) big battle. There are ambushes, strategies of true intellect, and dire tragedy. With no one safe and everyone’s honor on the line, who will come out victorious?

I must say the overall feel of this movie was true to its 1963 original. I’m also sure there has to be some influence from Kurosawa’s classic of 7 Samurai. I wouldn’t have put it in the title otherwise. A bunch of tough guns coming

They're really going at it...

together to stop a greater evil in a big showdown? Not many survive and evil must be thwarted at all costs? Yeah, I got that vibe from this movie. I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was in black and white either. The grainy quality of the film and the guerilla style of the landscape and shooting really gave it that end of an era, last action of a dying and barbaric peoples feel. That’s what I enjoyed, and the true suggestion of violence without entirely showing it that you get from horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. A true classic approach to film.

This has a true 7 Samurai feel to it.

What I didn’t like about it was the confusing nature of the characters. I can’t help it, but I gotta be a bit racist. Coming from an American, white person perspective, there were a lot of Asians running around who held very little difference in stature and character to me. You can attempt to pick out your favorites, but the movie made no effort in order to discern one person from another. Maybe this was done to show the collective resolve of the characters, but it became tedious towards the end.

Another thing that I hated/loved at the same time in this film (and I mean those terms lightly) is the action in the film. For those who like a bit more stylized violence in their viewing experience, you may not find that here. For those who love the chaos and the brutality of a film that just takes one massive battle and puts it into a gigantic perspective, this may be more your style. Coming from a priviledge era of spurting blood and close ups on decapitations, this movie pulls away from that. Focusing more on the feel of battle and not the gruesome details, you may not see more than some red hacks and slashes on bodies. And at the same time that that is happening, I’m not exactly sure how true to the Samurai Way that this film is. These guys, despite their training, seemed to just go out and wave their swords around like 13 year old tweens wanting to defeat Darth Maul in their backyards. I guess I’ll leave that up to people who actually know true sword technique.

Pretty damn cinematic.

With a bit of a lackluster acting chops cast, some of the more emotional scenes were lost on me. Maybe not towards the beginning with the injustices done by the evil Shogunate, maybe not even the death scenes that abound in this movie, but surely on the delivery of lines. This detracted from the period piece I felt this movie could have been, but if you’re a fan of Samurai 7, you need to check this movie out. Kurosawa would be proud. A decent 6.5 out of 10.


The Conspirator: 19th Century Courtroom Drama

I didn’t know much about this movie as me and my family sat down to watch this Robert Redford film of drama. I thought, “Hmmm, James McAvoy? Courtroom drama? Civil War Era? I’m in.” Always having had an interest in the courtroom (I love The Rainmaker.) and becoming a lawyer, fighting for equal representation, this movie piqued my interest once again. And the injustice of another trial was the perfect setting for this film of one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is a hardened Civil War

Never stop acting, you lovely man you, James McAvoy.

Northerner that has found his place in the martial court of the newly reunited United States of America. Prejudiced like so many against the South, Frederick hesitantly walks through a newly formed Union, as if on eggshells. And then one night it happened.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) the man who pulled the trigger, escaped on the only bridge opened that night in D.C., and

Some wonderful images from The Conspirator.

was subsequently shot by his pursuers. It was not this man alone though who crafted one of the worst killings of all time. Also implicated were a dozen other men, including one Mrs. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). It was at her boarding house that those men, with or without her knowledge, plotted a beloved President’s assassination.

In conjunction with Mary Surratt’s case, Aiken must defend a woman who he finds detestable, a Southerner, and do it with all the equality he can muster. With inner turmoil, a D.C. village who outcasts Aiken for his ability to abide by justice for all citizens, and a government attempting to hang a woman out to dry for her boarding house/son’s doing, this film full to the brim with injustice. And like it or not, the ending with frustrate the shizz out of you. And, despite this harrowing fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Just some of the great cast from the movie. Chillin'.

Why, you may ask? The actors. And surprisingly, a bunch of English actors parading about as Northerners and Southerners of America. It appears as if Robert Redford found their caliber of acting to be far better than that of an equally good American counterpart. But that’s besides the point. Let’s talk about James McAvoy. This wonderful actor really took a role that spoke to me and my own beliefs. He attention and hold to justice was admirable and honorable all in one. Despite the persecution he felt from his contemporaries, he fought fairly for Mary Surratt and her unfair incarceration and foreboding hang date. And Robin Wright herself was a beauty to watch on film. Her prim and proper character fought for her son and daughter and the injustice that was done to her was denied until the end.

Other notable people? Of course there are lots. Kevin Kline played a key, behind the scenes role as

Wonderful scenes happened here.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and initiator of the Mary Surratt trial. He knew his Northern counterparts demanded a scapegoat, some form of justice, and he gave it to them. Tom Wilkinson played the helpless Southern Marlyand lawyer in charge of Mary’s case who had to decline taking it on the grounds of his bias. His noble stature as Reverdy Johnson stood out to me, despite his cowardice. Evan Rachel Wood played a solidly respectable Anna Surratt, the daughter and poorly mistreated girl that Aiken came to respect despite her ability to turn in her brother. And Danny Huston played a fantastic antagonist as Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney and lowlife scoundrel.

A film to be remembered.

The list goes on as is expected from a Redford backed film, and I appreciated the attention to detail in costume, characters, and time period. For the love of God, we must talk about the lighting! It was superb. If any detail in a time period without electricity needed paying attention to, it was this. The lighting in this film blew me out of the water. It literally blew my mind how a film could still function with minimal lighting and dust floating through the air, and make it seem so so so so so authentic. It was superb and caught all of my attention, as if the trial was taking place just right in front of me. The town felt like a suburb of D.C., and all actors carried resemblances of their Civil War characters. If any period piece film about the Civil War need be watched other than Glory (that most important #1), it should be this one. 9.5 out of 10.