Fantasia 2022 Capsule Reviews

by Frédéric St-Hilaire July 24, 2022 2 minutes (434 words)

Detective Vs. Sleuths a new solo film from Wai Ka-Fai, frequent collaborator to Hong Kong axiom Johhnie To, is all that we love about Hong Kong crime cinema wrapped in a neat, no fat 2 hours. Starring Louis Koo at his unhinged best, the film tells the story of a disgraced former cop, now homeless and obsessed with his old cases, pulled back into the sleuthing game by a series of murders committed by a brutal gang all linked to his previous cases. The film explodes on the screen, all crane shots and Hong Kong bombast, with reversal after reversal, clever plays on perspective and a non-stop pulse pounding pace, making for one of the most purely enjoyable film of the fest.

Chorokbam, a slow-paced family drama from Korea, is a strange object to describe. At face value, it could rebuke all but the most devoted of cinephiles, made as it is of long shots, most often static of a lower-class Korean family defined more by what they keep hidden than what they decide to let out. The inciting incident, if one can call it that in this slow-burning story, is the discovery of a cat hung by its neck by the patriarch of the family. But I’ll be honest, I was never bored during the film, from the beginning I got on the film’s vibe, with its dark green colour palette and decided pace keeping me entranced, so much so that I balked at the somewhat overly prescriptive ending. I was ready for the film to simply dissipate into the warm summer night air, its strange spell and free-flowing anguish casting itself out into the city.

Just remembering, from Fantasia alum Daigo Matsui, falls into my preferred type of modern Japanese drama, the low-key, low-stakes look at ordinary people feeling out their way in the world, as opposed to the screaming out about our youths type of drama (in which Matsui indulged last year with the less assured Remain in Twilight) which can have its charms but is harder to execute and less germane to my experience. And this is exactly what we get in this charmer which charts the path of two lovable twentysomethings, along with a clever structural gambit which lets us suss-out their relationship to each other as the film progresses. I won’t spoil here, but know that this is a film that shines in the small gestures, that looks at its characters as they are, making us come to truly cherish by the time the credits come rolling. One of the highlights of the festival so far.

Frédéric St-Hilaire is a freelance writer based in Montréal. His research interests include Japanese cinema and sexual representation, the two of which converge in his long-standing project on Pink cinema. You will most likely find him at the cinema or boring someone with his thoughts on Portuguese cinema.

Capsule Reviews   fantasia international film festival