Coming to SF Taiwan Film Days: “Soul” & “When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep” Reviews and Trailers

Soul

Soul_03four-stars4The depiction of schizophrenia in horror films is nothing new, however, writer/director Mong-Hong Chung‘s approach on the subject is as refreshing as it is both beautiful and mesmerizing, and clearly I’m not alone in my high praise for the film. This is Taiwan’s official entry into the Best Foreign Language Picture category for the 2014 Oscars.

After fainting at work, a young man goes to live with his estranged father in the countryside. Once there, a lot of bad shit goes down. Now as far as plot’s concerned, to elaborate any further really isn’t necessary and would only ruin the experience of seeing for yourself just how the story unfolds.

Now it’s one thing to shoot a film well while applying many different camera angles and stylish editing transitions, but to do these things with the intent of illuminating character’s psyches while adding a layer of depth to the storyline is another thing altogether. Yet, that is exactly what Chung has done here. What impressed me most about this film was Chung’s choice of visual aesthetics and how incredibly well they complimented the characters on screen. How many well made horror/thriller films can you name that feature meaningful transitional dissolves from scenes shot from the point of view of an apparitional spirit-floating first person camera perspective (ala Gaspar Noe‘s Enter The Void) to unexpected fast cuts reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman‘s Persona (1966)?

With the exceptions of comedy, romance, and porn, the film should provide immense pleasure to anyone who is a fan of at least one of the following genres: drama, crime, mystery, suspense, thriller, and horror – provided their able to stomach a fair amount of blood, that is.

Showtimes for Soul: Saturday, November 2nd – 9:00pm (112min) – Vogue Theatre (3290 Sacramento Street)

When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep

WhenAWolfFallsInLoveWithASheep_02one-star2So this is what happens when you take the playful and popular film esthetics usually found in the likes of a Michel Gondry film (Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and put them in the hands of a director whose comprehension of the word constraint is simply nonexistent. The result is a hard-to-sit-through tangled mess which consists of a flood of live performance stop-motion animated sequences, overly emoted cartoonish performances, and an assaulting romcom plot trying to showcase both quirkiness and melodrama, and failing miserably at both of them.

Then again, before you judge my criticism of director Hou Chi-jan‘s too harshly keep in mind that I also didn’t much care for the similarly toned and insanely popular film (especially amongst Taiwanese) You Are The Apple of My Eye. That film played at SFIFF’s Taiwan Film Days 2011, sold out both of its screenings, and continues to have somewhat of a cult following. In other words, my opinion of that film, as well as it’s brother film – this Wolf and Sheep thingy – is most likely the minority opinion. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, or perhaps it’s just a thing I have for not enjoying movies that are so in-your-face with aesthetics and acting performances that seemed to be made for a daytime Nickelodeon television movie. Whatever the reason for my distaste is, one thing’s for sure; I will be staying far away from any Taiwanese film in the future that uses this film as a comparison for a selling point.

Showtimes for When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep: Sunday, November 3rd – 8:30pm (85min) – Vogue Theatre (3290 Sacramento Street)

Click here for complete Taiwan Film Days schedule and ticket info.


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Categories: Festivals, Reviews, Taiwan Film Days

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