‘The Road to Mandalay’

MV5BZGFiZjI5ZjAtNWZhMy00ZTQzLWIyNDUtMjM3MmU1MTM2MjE5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY3MTQ1NTY@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_A quiet, understated reflection on Burmese immigrants illegally working in Thailand as Lianqing (Ke-Xi Wu – Poor Folk, Ice Poison) escapes her impoverished rural home life. Sending money home and obtaining a work permit in any way possible is her focus, even at the cost of her relationship with Guo (Kai Ko – You Are the Apple of My Eye, When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep).

Both are in search of a better life, but their contradictory personalities inevitably lead to conflict. Director Midi Z (Poor Folk, Ice Poison), a rising star of Asian cinema, focuses on the everyday events and hardships faced by the pair – making its denouement in the final seconds even more unexpected and shocking.

Screened in the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Rating: 69%


‘The Assassin’

the-assassinElegant, surprisingly delicate, precise down a tee with stunning cinematography, The Assassin is not the average acrobatic martial arts feature.

More contemplative that combative, it’s quietness is both its strength and weakness. It’s hard not to get lost in the sumptuous interiors and breathtaking landscapes – yet the minimum dialogue, lack of clarity and sporadic action lulls you into occasional moments of soporific stupor.

It’s certainly a change of direction for Hsiao-Hsien Hou (Flight of the Red Balloon, A Time to Live A Time To Die), regarded as one of the most important directors working in world cinema. And while successful on the international film festival circuit, it’s cinematographer Ping Bin Lee (Renoir, In the Mood For Love) who has been picking up the plaudits.

Rating: 64%