Capsule Cinema: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Zellner, 2014)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Zellner, 2014)

Kumiko lives in utter solitude, avoiding everyone in her life except her pet rabbit. Isolated and dissatisfied, she becomes obsessed with finding ransom money Steve Buscemi’s character in Fargo buries along a snowy highway in Minneapolis. First, this film nearly ruined my nerves from worrying, panicking, and questioning Kumiko’s actions and logic. Second, Rinko Kikuchi’s performance is so powerful and immersed that you’re pulled into Kumiko’s world whether you like it or not. Third, the film sparks an opportunity for greater discussion on extreme escapism, social isolation, and mental health—as all great films do. The ending blew me away.

Capsule Cinema: Secretly, Greatly (Jang, 2013)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

Secretly, Greatly (Jang, 2013)

We all know Kim Soo-hyun as that cool, ageless alien who fell in love with a beer-and-chicken-eating Jun Ji-hyun. But before he owned that role, he played a North Korean spy deployed for an indefinite amount of time at a South Korean backwater as a sleeper agent. His cover: the village idiot. Secretly, Greatly offers a fairly entertaining mix of action, comedy, and drama. The military storyline is expectedly underdeveloped, but come on—people don’t watch this for that. They want to see Kim Soo-hyun kick some enemy ass, flex his spy muscles, and learn where his loyalties truly lie.

Capsule Cinema: Hospitalité (Fukada, 2011)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

Hospitalite (Fukada, 2011)

Mikio Kobayashi, his young wife, daughter, and sister are shocked out of their quiet lives when a man they think they know comes to them looking for a job and board. Then he brings his foreign wife to live with him…and eventually all their “friends.” Hospitalité is an absurd, funny, and insightful film that begs for a discussion on the social, economic, and political issues obvious and veiled in the narrative. I can see this paradoxically simple yet complex film sitting in philosophy, development, or sociology classes, sparking discourse relevant not only in Japan but also in the global community.

Capsule Cinema: Nightcrawler (Gilroy, 2014)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is a creepy film. Jake Gyllenhall as Lou Bloom, a disarmingly articulate and calculating petty thief-cum-nightcrawler, is creepy. Witnessing Gyllenhall’s performance is like watching a gory car crash—it’s horrifying, but for some reason, you can’t look away. I had no idea if he would show moments of pathetic weakness or fly into a psychotic rage and start breaking skulls with his camera. Overall, I think it’s a great film. Unsettling yet riveting. The ending left me puzzled and wanting, but Gyllenhall’s chilling treatment of his character is enough to sit through nearly two hours of this TMZ nightmare.

Capsule Cinema: The Riot Club (Scherfig, 2014)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

The Riot Club (Scherfig, 2014)

The progression was predictable. Intelligent, young, wealthy men, part of a centuries-old dining club committed to “debauchery raised to an art form,” let loose in a pub where the libations flowed freely and so did their warped privilege. I thought it was another instance of Brits doing things better than everyone else. In this case, getting smashed with sexy accents and spewing eloquent word vomit. But The Riot Club did have one saving grace: its ending. It transformed the story from a dinner gone wrong to an account of a veiled reality infamously perpetuated by power and the right connections.

Capsule Cinema: Water (Metha, 2005)

Kay reviews films in 100 words or less.

Water (2005)

Water is set in 1930s India, where widowed women were expected to live in religious piety, poverty, and chastity to remain virtuous and avoid being “reborn in the womb of a jackal.” This tragically beautiful film fluidly communicates the frustration of a life forced to follow an inequitable fate prescribed by outdated dogma. It shows the innate, uncontainable desire to be loved and be free, regardless of sex or status. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come—and how far we still have to go for equality.

Fighting for women’s rights isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s everyone’s struggle.