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Alive and kicking


Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections

Asia Sanmenkyô
2016 / 118m - Japan
Drama - Anthology
Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections poster

Decent anthology, though based on the talent involved here, expectations were slightly higher. Three solid shorts, but it's all a bit expected and safe, i.e. socially conscious drama without visual excess. It's not the best use of the anthology medium if you ask me. Still, not a bad trio of shorts.


2012 / 120m - Philippines
Drama, Thriller
Captive poster

Another micro-shorts anthology. They were relatively popular for a while, but they rarely lived up to their potential. With just a single minute to make an impression, directors were given a tricky challenge. One that proved a bit too daunting for most involved, as too many of the entries failed to make an impact.

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This isn't so much a real film as it was an experience though. There doesn't remain a proper copy of this anthology since it was only screened once, then burned right after. I usually stray from watching low-quality recordings, but with nothing else available, it was either that or not watching it ever.

There are some interesting names here, but few of them stand out. The goals of the project are lofty, but it's all very conceptual and the films themselves never really match or strengthen the project's ideals. It's a good thing that the score is pretty interesting, which at least kept me going. Not all that interesting.


2009 / 105m - Philippines
Kinatay poster

A film with some decent ideas, only the execution was incredibly flawed. It's a real skill to turn cheap into quality, but it's not a skill Brillante Mendoza possesses. The thoughts and intentions behind many of the choices here were obvious enough, but for the most part the effect simply wasn't there.

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Peping is a young student who wants to earn an extra buck and signs up for a "special project". He gets more than what he's bargained for when he finds out they're kidnapping a prostitute with the intent of killing her. Peping tries to get out of his assignment, but when that seems impossible he has to make a tough choice between his conscience and the money.

The cinematography is terribly amateurish. The dark scenes in the middle somewhat hide that fact, but even then the camera work is simply atrocious. No doubt Mendoza hoped it would create some kind of voyeur effect, but that was a complete bust. The soundtrack comes off a bit overdone in combination with the images. It's not bad, but you can't make atmosphere with just the music alone. Performances are mediocre too and the pacing is sluggish. The potential was there, but the result isn't much to look at.

I'm a big fan of anthologies, and this project sounded very promising on paper. Seventy renowned directors give their vision on the future of cinema. With just one minute per short, there isn't much time to make a point, but it's disheartening to see how few of them even managed to stick to the topic.

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The saddest part was that many of the short didn't even deal with the future, but openly referred to or praised the medium's past. There's also a lot of doom and gloom, with some very basic visions of people not caring enough about arthouse cinema, or playing movies on their phones. Your typical old-man-yelling-at-cloud stuff.

There is only a small selection of directors who seem to have understood the brief, and they struggle to make the most of their limited runtime. What remains is a complete mess, with most shorts looking like they were made on people's afternoon off, and hardly anything that stands out. A disappointment.