Resurrection of the Little Match Girl is a disaster so complete and inexplicable you can't pry your eyes from it. A mediocre director would never think to make such an a ambitious movie, but he would also never have the nerve to fall as flat on his face as Sun-Woo Jang has here. For that I give him credit: he was sure thinking big to come up with something this wonked.
Jang was the director of the controversial Lies, a widely-banned film (in Korea and elsewhere) that was derived from an equally widely-banned novel, about a bizarre and explicitly explored sadomasochistic relationship. That film had, curiously, many parallels to this one. There were many attempts to wink at the audience, to subvert the seriousness of the goings-on and to heave a wrecking ball at the fourth wall as if the director had sworn a blood oath to demolish it.
Lies was puzzling, but it at least held our attention and seemed to actually add up to something. Match Girl is just plain schizoid: it burns through drama, slapstick comedy, macho action movie, sensitive romance and special-effects head trip without ever actually touching down on any of them. It is said of a good movie that we can hear the director thinking to himself, but here, the thought amplifier has been turned up so much it's painful. It is, to coin a phrase, all payoff and no setup.Read more
The more films I watch, the more I find myself responding to stories which are as direct and unadorned as possible. Aki Kaurismaki, as does Takeshi Kitano, come to mind. Kitano's movies contain absolutely nothing that does not need to be there, and what needs to be there is dictated by his own very unique sensibility. The same sort of spareness and directness is at the heart of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, which numbers among Rainer Fassbinder's very best movies all the more because it is so uncluttered — and for that reason so hard to rationalize away.
Ali takes the rough form, but not quite the content, of a melodrama. What makes it work is its simple tone and its directness of spirit, and also its immensely subtle understanding of character. Because the film is so simple and direct on the surface, some people miss the way the movie is really operating — they hear only the gears turning in the plot and miss the real music.
There is Emmi Kurowski (Brigitte Mira), a rumpled, sixtyish woman who works as a cleaner somewhere in Germany. She goes into a bar one night that caters mostly to "guest workers," foreigners that live and work in Germany, presumably to get out of the rain. The barmaid, a blowzy blonde with a beehive hairdo, makes unsubtle suggestions to one of the other patrons that maybe she'd like to dance. He walks over to her, offers, and she takes him up on it. Read more