Category Archives: Golden Scene Screening

Flying Colors ビリギャル Biri Gyaru / Biri Gal (2015) – Japan

Flying Colors ビリギャル Biri Gyaru / Biri Gal (2015) – Japan

Reviewed by Andrew Chan

Cast: Kasumi Arimura, Atsushi Itō, Shūhei Nomura, Yūhei Ōuchida, Kokoro Okuda, Morio Agata, Ken Yasuda, Airi Matsui, Tetsushi Tanaka, Yō Yoshida
Director: Nobuhiro Doi
Screenwriter: Hiroshi Hashimoto
Producers: Jun Nasuda, Junichi Shindō
Director of photography: Yasushi Hanamura
Editor: Junnosuke Hogaki, Sayaka Yamamoto

Distributed by: Golden Scene

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“Flying Colors” is one of those films that will invokes plenty of emotions of those who have once attempted to achieve the impossible despite the biggest of odds. Never give up is both an attitude and an innate human personality that defines our character, where when life throws “lemons” after “lemons” at you”. How we deal with the “lemons” in life provide us with important life lessons and hurtles. As a result, “Flying Colors” will appeal to a particular personality type and once they engage, it will be impossible to not emote, be inspired and leaving the cinema with teary eyes.

Director Nobuhiro Doi is extremely diligent from start to finish to focus on one ultimate goal that is for a “dead beat”, bottom “20% student” and “written off” blond-dyed haired, pretty young high schooler to achieve the impossible of getting into a top private university. Kasumi Arimura is wonderful in her pursue for this goal and her change in personality and character is both gradual and believable. Her interactions with her mum, dad and brother showed us that nothing is perfect and like life, getting into university is not just a single sided ambition, but can inspire other aspects of your life. Atsushi Itō (from the famed role of “Densha Otoko” aka “Train Man”) is sensational in his belief in Arimura and in a scene where he openly defends her in a cafe despite an onslaught of insults from her classroom teacher provides a tiny little moment to endure. The two play of each other in the most engaging fashion and forms the core for the rest of the film.

All in all, “Flying Colors” is a great film that shows what can be achieve in life, if you truly believe in yourself. As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons make orange juice” and this film perfectly encapsulate the difficulties, the hardship and the many situations where you will feel like giving up. To achieve the impossible is never easy and like life it will never be. This is a personal film as I am a strong believer in this attitude. Still, “Flying Colors” is a wonderfully paced film that is bound to inspire and that’s extremely important.

Recommended film and endorsed by HK Neo Reviews.

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Starlet (2012) – USA / UK

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 12th March 2014

Directed by: Sean Baker
Starring: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson

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“Starlet” is one of those films that waits for you to embrace it, before totally overwhelming the audience with strong emotions and a thought-provoking finale. I really enjoyed this film and the best thing about it, is the manner director / writer Sean Baker goes about his business, without being flashy, pretentious, but simply creating the right moments for the actors to shine. Baker constantly allows and lingers on the actor’s facial expressions, their detail interactions and especially a sweet little story focusing on the young Dree Hemingway and the old granny Besedka Johnson. Despite the fact that Dree Hemingway works in the porn industry and scream out during explicit sex scene, nothing is ever over-done or over-cooked. In fact, Dree is able present a multi-facet performance, where she is able separate her work as a porn star and going about every life with her beloved puppy dog “Starlet” and her “sort-of” redemption of being indirectly being in possession of Besedka Johnson’s long lost money. “Starlet” is a beautiful little film that is able to capture the youth, the drugs, the sex, the life, the relationships and ultimately a story about two very different people, from a huge generation gap and how they grew closer. This is a wonderful film for the ages.

Considering this is a debut performance from the late Besedka Johnson, who shot the film when she was 85 years old. Johnson is simply wonderful and never over-acts. Her fragile figure belies a story to tell and her interactions with Dree Hemingway essentially made the film a success. Dree Hemingway is light-hearted and despite being around her best friend Stella Maeve who is totally drugged up and used up in the porn industry, Hemingway comes off rather loving and in fact, the most realistic character. Everyone have their struggles and the way she wants to discover the life of an unknown old granny is fascinating and believable to watch. Soon, we almost forgotten about the cash that she that took from the garage sale and instead we enjoy the performances of the two.

All in all, “Starlet” is wonderful little film that never fails to grow onto the audience. Like Dree, we are fascinated by Besedka Johnson’s old age and going her everyday life. The dog “Starlet” adds to the humor and some cute giggles and moments, but ultimately it is the relationship between the two different characters that made the film a joy to endure. “Starlet” succeeds in exploring the notion of humanity, friendship, redemption as well as perhaps suggesting a 2nd chance. A film for all ages and one that easily stays with you. (Neo 2014)

I rated it 8/10


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Mud 爛泥 (2012) – USA

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 11th August 2013

Directed by Jeff Nichols
Produced by Lisa Maria Falcone, Sarah Green, Aaron Ryder
Written by Jeff Nichols

Starring: Matthew McConaughey as Mud, Reese Witherspoon as Juniper, Tye Sheridan as Ellis, Jacob Lofland as Neckbone, Sam Shepard as Tom Blankenship, Ray McKinnon as Senior, Sarah Paulson as Mary Lee, Michael Shannon as Galen

Film Distributed by Golden Scene
In cinemas Hong Kong from 15 August 2013.

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“Mud” is one of those amazing film that takes you on a journey of discovery and keeps you on your toes till the finish line. It is a rare quality that is not often seen and director Jeff Nichols excels in this by creating characters and grows with the audience as the film progresses. In fact you are never entirely sure what the next move the character will take and how they will come about a certain decision. Movies about love is never something new, therefore it is manner that the film goes about it that makes it so interesting and intriguing to endure. The star of the show is Tye Sheridan who plays a 14 year old kid who essentially witness everything you need to know about love, from his parents on the brink of divorce, to the teenager puppy love games playing to Matthew McConaughey undying love for Reese Witherspoon and Witherspoon’s own inability to appreciate love to himself blindly going after a girl that simply doesn’t like him.

Tye Sheridan carries the film with a certain level of realism and passion for life and people that essentially evaluates the film to a different level. He is ably supported a indifferent Matthew McConaughey who simply shines and steal every scene he is involved within. There is depth in McConaughey despite his limited screen and by the end of the film, he remains one of the more memorable characters. Reese Witherspoon appears in nothing more than a glorify cameo and does an adequate job within the allocated slots.

What I really enjoyed about “Mud” is that it never tries to be pretentious, forcefully involving, but rather relying on a well structured script and extremely relevant human issues about life and love. While it does not break any grounds, the film suddenly reaches crescendo at the right time near the end. The film seemed to just go about life and moves at a steady pace, while letting the audience to understand a bit more about its characters one step at a time. All in all, “Mud” is not a classic, but it is well worth the journey taken. After-all, life is never perfect and therefore even within a pile of mud, we can still find a silver lining. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8.5/10

Disconnect 斷了線 (2012) – USA

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 18th July 2013

Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgard, Max Thieriot
Writers: Andrew Stern

Film Distributed by Golden Scene
In cinemas Hong Kong from 25 July 2013.

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When a film have numerous lines of events linking them together, it is never easy and at most times, the resolution remains more corny than overwhelmingly emotional. So it is entirely refreshing to see “Disconnect” manages to connect to the audience from the get-go and link everything together till the inevitable dramatic finale. Not unlike Danny Boyle’s “Trance”, the film deals with difficult issues of underage pornography, crime, ethics, media and the consequences of our own actions. Director Henry Alex Rubin is every bit competent in linking all these very different, but important themes to tell a powerful message, even if it all seems far too over the top by the end. It is a highly commendable effort that is likely to engage and affect.

What makes “Disconnect” work so well is its ability to use the show-not-tell principle, thus allowing the audience to remain focused at the source on hand. The internet and technology has essentially changed the way we live and the manner we go about our lives. Internet dating has now become the norm and indeed cybersex is always going to be part of the fun. The film shows exactly how dangerous technology can really be and the terrible aftermath and consequences when it is misused. Pretending to be a girl on Facebook and flirting with a schoolmate may seem harmless and even funny to a certain degree, but when it goes over the top, cyber bullying has just as much impact, if not more consequences as old school bullying. Credit card fraud is also far scarier than you realize as the impact on one’s life can be enormous. This film succeeds in telling the audience about all these relevant and existing issues without being pretentious.

Jason Bateman takes on a serious role as the concerned father who takes a big hit in life, after his son (Jonah Bobo) got caught in the loop of cyber bullying and the resulting consequences that ensues. While, Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton plays a couple whose life is totally destroyed by their loss of child, before falling victim to stolen identity that ironically restore that their lifeless relationship. Another central story goes the route of exploring the underage cybersex industry as Andrea Riseborough plays a reporter who befriends a cybersex worker Max Thieriot and even attempting to save him, only to realize that she is only saving herself.

All in all, “Disconnect” is a good film that ties all loose ends and is clinically effective in depicting how technology has changed us both emotionally, mentally and physically. First time film writer Andrew Stern does a credible job in depicting and connecting all the personal stories together. Combining with steadfast direction from Henry Alex Rubin, the film is able to relate to the audience, striking the right chords and in the process providing the audience with a smart thriller to think about. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8/10

A Story of Yonosuke 横道世之介 / 那年遇上世之介 (2013) – Japan

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 24th June 2013

Director: Shuichi Okita
Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (novel), Shiro Maeda
Starring: Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013
Film Distributed by Golden Scene and Panorama Films

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“A Story for Yonosuke” simply works because it never tries to be more than it is meant to be. The tale of a young and cheerful man going through college and experience life along the way is nothing new, but somehow the film manages to be fresh, simple and even ordinary and all in a good way. Running at an epic 160 minutes, the opening sequences seem a tad longer than it should be, but once the audience is hooked, they are unlikely to be able to detach in one way or another. Sometimes in the midst of such a complicated world, this kind of simplicity is exactly what we need and “A Story of Yonosuke” gives out that feeling and that’s perhaps all we ever wanted.

Kengo Kora is simply magnetic as the coming of age young man learning about love, life and reality all the space of living away from home and in college. From the moment you see his character stumble across on screen; you know he is not ready to face the impending world. However, with a bit of luck and combining with a cheerful outlook, Yonosuke (Kora) not only survives, but even manages to experience what life and growing up is really about. Kora’s unique ability to be genuinely simple and cheerful is extremely endearing to watch. He is perfectly aided by the ever wonderful Yuriko Yoshitaka who is easily a dream girl for any college guy. Rich, smart, funny and incredibly beautiful, however like most guys at that age (as we have all grown up and realized); they don’t know what they are doing. Kora and Yoshitaka have wonderful underlying chemistry and carries the film through to its most genuine emotions.

All in all, “A Story for Yonosuke” is simply about an ordinary young man whose cheerful outlook inspires many of those that he encounters, whether as a friend, lover or even a by passer. It is this unique character that allows the audience to reflect upon that own lives of how these kind people is every bit special and thinking of them either bring yourself to a smile or reminiscent how much better and livelier they once made your life. Maybe Yonosuke is your friend; someone in your group, former lover or even yourself, just the fact that they exists makes the world a better place. While it is true that the film doesn’t try to say much, but in 160 minutes of running time, it is not an easy feat when the audience remains glue to the screen for most of it. Essentially, a film that touches upon your most simplest of emotions… (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8/10