Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The 4 most important things in life

In Our Day (2023) - Hong Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 4.23.49 PM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 4.24.19 PM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 4.25.14 PM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 4.23.03 PM Sleeping Cats Alcohol Cigarettes

Embracing Mystery

Inside Yellow Cocoon Shell (2023) - Pham Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 8.31.14 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 8.36.46 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 8.40.01 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 9.24.46 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 9.30.07 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 10.12.55 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 10.20.50 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 10.21.59 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 10.39.44 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-21 at 10.22.13 AM Vietnamese director Pham Thien An's assured debut feature, Inside Yellow Cocoon Shell, will make a great 'existential road trip movie' double feature with Bi Gan's debut Kaili Blues. A languid style with no cuts and slow zoom-in, this unhurried film starts with a group of young men discussing faith and afterlife in a busy Saigon outdoor restaurant. There is a fatal motorcycle accident off the frame and the camera slowly tracks to the busy intersection to reveal the sight of the accident. We later learn that it was Hanh, a sister-in-law of our reluctant protagonist Thien (Le Phong Vu), who died in the accident, and left him her 5-year-old son, Dao to take care of. Thien leaves with Dao to their hometown in the lush countryside for the very catholic funeral and following wake.

In the home village where he left long ago for Saigon, he encounters many people and engage in long conversations, including an old man who was in the army fighting viet congs and his old flame who is now a nun. The present melds with past and reality blurs with dreams, Inside Yellow Cocoon Shell presents the waking dream that is fleeting human life. The last third of this languid 3-hour film is Thien looking for his brother in the neighboring village. His motor bike breaks down and Thien has to take shelter in a snack stop. There he engages with an old woman who asks him why he had forsaken his soul and proceeds to tell him her near death experience. Is Thien really looking for his brother? Or is he in a spiritual journey to find himself? With the backdrop of colorful Vietnam and its western and eastern influences and its tumultuous history, young director Pham paints a very arresting picture of one man's journey to find himself and leaves room for us to contemplate and embrace life's mysteries.