o The Lake is likely the best Russian-produced show to resonate with western audiences so far, and it's easy to see why. The script, direction, pacing, and acting are excellent, with believable characters who undergo decent development arcs throughout the show's addictive single season. Based on the debut novel of the Russian writer Yana Vagner, Vongozero (2011), To The Lake sees residents of Moscow infected with a deadly virus where blank irises and fatal coughing followed by actual death 3-4 days later.
As some of us still have the relative luxury to choose or deny taking a COVID vaccine before the whole shitshow goes up in flames, we'll look back at this period fondly. Not because the world is ending just yet, but because some of the apocalyptic shows and movies streaming on Netflix foretell a future where kicking back to watch such things is impossible due to viruses, zombies made from said virus, or a fundamental lack of internet because of viral zombies pulling the plug.
Ang Lee's martial arts melodrama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, remains the rarest of cinematic gems: an action movie with an extraordinary aesthetic beauty of lightness unlike anything before or since.
Oh, Sarah, voice-without-a-voice-Tik-Tok-matinée-star. You had me at How to medical. Bit me with How to testing. Killed me with Should I take insulin. Your first masterpieces. You broke our bones with terrifying funny.
The ink has barely dried on signing the world's biggest trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), on November 15. A miraculous accomplishment after eight long years of grueling talks, the new free trade zone will include close to a third of the world's population and economic output, outsizing both the European Union and US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
So let's just get this out of the way: The Eight Hundred (八佰)—the 2020 Chinese historical-emotional war drama directed and co-written by Guan Hu—is one of the best war movies ever made. A serendipitous happenstance because Hong Kong venues recently started screening it at the end of October for the first time. If that wasn't enough, a double stroke of luck—the entire film was uploaded in full HD around the same time. Seeing as The Eight Hundred sets a new standard for epic production values in Chinese cinema, you have no excuse not to see it.
If you didn't know, last week, October 29th, was International Internet Day or #InternetDay on social media. Isn't that amazing? Without the Internet, you wouldn't be reading this. So, we should all be celebrating the most important and popular communication tool humankind has ever invented, shouldn't we? Or should we?
Earlier this year, Netflix did us a solid and brought 21 beautiful Studio Ghibli films to Hong Kong. As fans of Hayao Miyazaki, we rejoiced around campfires. The award-winning art house masterworks have always been exclusive and difficult to find online through streaming services.
For those who saw it on the big screen, In the Mood for Love was an unforgettable experience. Shot on film using ARRIFLEX 35 BL4 and ARRIFLEX 535 Cameras with Zeiss Lenses, it wowed audiences with its richly textured cinematography and odd use of framing. Each shot seemed like a mysterious analog memory—dreamlike smoke-filled spaces punctured by creative lighting and use of shadows.
There's so much to learn about Hong Kong through the work of its masters of cinema. The best thing about Netflix is its regional offerings, so today, we're going to take a look at the work of Chow Yun-Fat, AKA Mr. Cool, AKA Babyface Killer, AKA Brother Fat.
A few months ago, a friend asked me if I'd ever read the Three-Body Problem. No, never heard of it. It's an extraordinary Chinese science fiction novel. Ok, didn't see that coming. Any good? Trust me, read the first fifty pages, you'll be hooked. Intrigue struck. Sure enough, our next meet involved me receiving the mysterious book I knew nothing about, handed over with a grin like some sacred text or best-kept secret. What mind-melting worlds awaited my synapses?
I watched Netflix's 2017 documentary Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower last night for the first time. "Joshua" is a contrived, cloying, unbalanced documentary with the ambition to manipulate perspectives on Joshua Wong's rise and evolution from passionate teen to media princeling.
That was awesome, but what the f**k just happened? Said my imaginary interlocutor as we left the PALACE IFC Broadway Theatre. I'm not sure. Rebirth? Earlier in the week, I'd invited myself to see acclaimed Japanese anime director Omoto Katsuhiro's 1988 cyberpunk epic Akira as it returned to HK cinemas in newly restored 4k. It would be my third time but first HD renovation, big screen, and mask-wearing experience.