Saturday, May 18, 2013

30 Countries Parts 20 - 22 (The Singer/Lorna's Silence/The Man From Nowhere)

The Singer (2006) Dir. Xavier Giannoli

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Part 20 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of French origin as per its listing on imdb.

Of all the films from all of France I had to pick this one.
The Singer is Gerard Depardieu as a morose old man trying to reclaim his youth. What was I thinking?! I'd wanted to see the guy actually act in his native tongue without being the fat comedic buffoon he seems to have become of late. And he didn't let me down. That aside this movie is incredibly tedious and more than a little creepy, what with him constantly trying to sleep with young women. I know there are people like this in real life, and I know that it works quite often but it's sure no fun to watch for two hours.

Lorna's Silence (2008) Dir. The Dardenne Brothers

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Part 21 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Belgian origin as per its listing on imdb.

A last minute substitute in the challenge but certainly one that was worth it.

Very cool. A thriller of sorts, told in the realist style with incredibly natural performances. My first experience of the Dardenne Brothers was quite something. A look at immigration issues within the European Union at present without the hysteria applied by the media.

Lorna is not your average benefit or health care tourist, she works hard and has a dream. To achieve that dream she has entered in to an agreement with some shady characters.

What the brothers achieve with this premise and their style of realism is something quite remarkable, drip feeding you information through plot development that in turn feeds character development which is followed up by taking the film in a direction nobody could guess.

This is powerful cinema and I look forward to more from these brothers.

The Man From Nowhere (2010) Dir. Jeong-beom Lee 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Part 22 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of South Korean origin as per its listing on imdb.

I recorded this off of the world movies channel nearly a year ago because it sounded interesting but clearly not interesting enough to actually watch. It took Berken's great challenge to get me to actually press play.

Turns out it's a great example of the South Korean revenge flick with more than a touch of The Man With No Name trope and I should have seen this sooner.

What sets The Man From Nowhere above the also rans is not gratuitous violence or a protagonist of super human strength but style and heart. I'm a sucker for anyone who recalls the infinitely cool Jef Costello and does it well and Phoneshop Ghost is built of similar stuff, but with highly skilled unarmed combat training in his past.

An equal mix of dramatic intrigue and violent action Jeong-beom Lee directs both aspects with equal skill, this is intelligent action cinema bringing to mind Johnnie To's 2009 film Vengeance and if a move in to Hollywood isn't soon forthcoming I'd be very surprised. I'd prefer it if he didn't but money talks.

The middle section features a real dip in excitement as the film gets bogged down in plot but the action in final third more than makes up for it in terms of incredible action scenes.


  1. Haha, I'll skip The Singer. Thrilled that you liked Lorna's Silence so much. Hope you explore more of the Dardennes' work. The Man From Nowhere looks good, so on the watchlist it goes.

    1. You've seen Lorna's Silence? Somebody on Letterboxd mentioned that it is often labelled their worst film because it is stylistically different from their early work.

    2. Yeah, the Dardennes are two of my favorite directors. Lorna's Silence tends to be overlooked, but I think it's one of their best films.

      If you're looking to see more of their work, I'd probably rank what I've seen like this: (all of which are at least 4.5/5 for me)

      1. L'Enfant
      2. Rosetta
      3. Lorna's Silence
      4. La Promesse
      5. The Son
      6. The Kid with a Bike

    3. I opened June with two Dardenne's in two days, La Promesse & L'Enfant. I was a little disappointed after Lorna's Silence to be honest. It's not that I didn't enjoy them, I did, they just didn't affect me anywhere as near as much as Lorna. L'Enfant was especially irritating with attempt at a redemptive ending. My library system has all of their films except Rosetta which is quite irritating, but it does mean that I'll soon be watching your two least favourite films of their.

    4. I think the reason I hold L'Enfant in such high regard is because it was my first Dardennes film. Lorna was the second film I watched.

      Awesome! I love The Son and The Kid with a Bike, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. Hope you can find Rosetta as well.