Tag Archives: dallas iff

Indie Weekend: ‘I Saw the Devil,’ Dallas IFF

I Saw the Devil
'I Saw the Devil': Revenge is in the air. (Magnet)

Opening today at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff for a one-week run, ‘I Saw the Devil’ is a black-hearted revenge film from South Korea that has received generally positive marks since its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. Shortly thereafter, it played at Fantastic Fest, which is where I sat down to watch it on a Saturday morning.

My opinion is decidedly in the minority. Perhaps my expectations were different. Directed by Kim Ji-Woon, who in previous films such as ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ and ‘The Good the Bad and the Weird’ demonstrated an affection for opulently entertaining excess, ‘I Saw the Devil’ takes it simple premise and hammers it into submission.

Let me quote from Kurt Halfyard’s review at Twitch:

Kim’s films, I Saw The Devil included, remain fun and exciting affairs, but do not engage the brain or the soul much beyond the basic concept. Case in point the film never really develops beyond Lee’s becoming the devil to defeat the devil and all the collateral damage done (family, innocent bystanders, you name it) in that single-minded quest.  Is doing all this evil enough to be justified by a promise and love?  It is a not a difficult question to answer after the film is over. The uncut version showed at the Toronto International Film Festival and it is about as bloody and gory (and oddly enough, glossy) a serial killer movie that I can recall. I’m sure someone will make a bloodier and gorier movie, that is the way these things work, but that does not change the fact that this is probably the current benchmark, Korean cinema or otherwise.

It’s tremendously well-made, and as long as you have the stomach for it, it’s something you’ll probably want to catch on the big screen. But I’m afraid it was a let down for me, more a technical exercise than anything else.

Dallas IFF
2011 Dallas International Film Festival

The big show got started last night. The Dallas International Film Festival (Dallas IFF) kicked off with the local premiere of Sundance / SXSW documentary fave ‘Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey’ at the Winspear Opera House. Yours truly decided to skip the red carpet and avoid the crowds, but I’ll be covering it as much as possible.

Coming on the heels of SXSW, Dallas IFF is decidedly a more low-key affair, but that keeps the emphasis squarely on the films, which is always a good thing. I’ll be covering a few films for my friends at Red Carpet Crash, who will feature complete coverage of the fest, and will be backing up my friend Josh Hurtado as he covers the festival for Twitch.

And I might have a thing or two to say about it on my Twitter feed, so you can follow me @PeterAMartin for all the latest grunts and grumbles. After the festival, I’m anticipating some changes to Dallas Film Now (and its Twitter feed, @DallasFilmNow) as well.

Dallas IFF: Sunday (4/18) – ‘Casino Jack,’ The Big Wrap-Up!

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Ah, the runner stumbles even in film review.  After what had been an almost perfect week of movie choices at the 2010 Dallas International Film Festival, I found myself wondering what had happened in those final moments, as I closed out my experience with one of the biggest (and most surprising) failures of the fest.

Perhaps I should have known it couldn’t be that good.  DIFF had played out like something from a dream, cinematically:  I had very little foreknowledge of most of the films I saw, yet was absolutely blown away by a large majority, which just doesn’t seem statistically possible.  The few films I felt didn’t cut it were at least well-made.  The science-fiction tale Earthling just didn’t know how to explain away its promising theories, and felt awkward in its execution despite a great sense of unease that recalled Lynch and Cronenberg.  And the grueling you-won’t-go-to-the-prom-with-me-so-I’ll-drill-a-hole-in-your-head horror film The Loved Ones just became so deadening in its relentless monotony that you wished the amusing subplot would have gotten more screen time.

Continue reading Dallas IFF: Sunday (4/18) – ‘Casino Jack,’ The Big Wrap-Up!

Dallas IFF: Friday (4/9) – ‘City of Life and Death,’ ‘I Am Love,’ ‘Down Terrace,’ ‘The Loved Ones’

A terrific first full day of the 2010 Dallas International Film Festival is capped off with a colossal dud.

Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death is such a powerful piece of cinema that it is almost unbearable, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Recounting the events of 1937 Nanjing, at the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the film portrays action scenes with an immediacy that is striking, atrocities with a detachment that can leave you shaken, and yet still handles heartbreaking intimate moments with a delicate touch.

Continue reading Dallas IFF: Friday (4/9) – ‘City of Life and Death,’ ‘I Am Love,’ ‘Down Terrace,’ ‘The Loved Ones’

Dallas IFF: Thursday (4/8) – Opening Night, ‘A Town Called Panic’

The 2010 Dallas International Film Festival got off to a rousing start as the Angelika Dallas center was host to multiple showcases (and a few celebrities, too).  Some of the night’s screenings went off without a hitch (see below), while others hit technical snags:  apparently both screen and projection issues marred the presentation of Bill Cunningham New York.  But happy faces and free booze can wear down the hardest hearts, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Continue reading Dallas IFF: Thursday (4/8) – Opening Night, ‘A Town Called Panic’