Leading light of South Korean film Park Chan-wook — the man responsible for making actor Choi Min-sik eat a live octopus in 2003’s Oldboy — makes his English-language debut with Stoker, a visually flamboyant psychological thriller with more than a whiff of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubtabout it. Matthew Goode stars as the dashingly sinister Uncle Charlie, who comes to live with mother and daughter Evelyn and India Stoker (Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska) after the death of the family patriarch in a car accident. As India gradually realizes her dad’s mysterious bro is more than what he seems, initial rejection turns into obsession.
Following a slightly different Korea path, Die Hard-style romp Olympus Has Fallen finds the White House invaded and the president (Aaron Eckhart) taken hostage by terrorists from the Asian peninsula. Inside the building, it is up to disgraced presidential bodyguard Gerard Butler, coordinating with House Speaker and Acting President Morgan Freeman, to save the day. Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo and Ashley Judd lend support while Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua directs.
British documentary The Imposter tells a remarkable true-life tale. In 1994 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay went missing from his home in Texas. Three-and-a-half years later, his family received a phone call saying he had been found in Spain after a kidnapping ordeal. But how come their blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American son was now a dark-haired, brown-eyed Frenchman 10 years older than when he disappeared? Even more oddly, why did his family not seem to notice the difference? Bart Layton’s film snakes its way from one jaw-dropping twist to the next.
Shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars (it lost out to Michael Haneke’s Amour), Canadian director Kim Nguyen’s War Witch tells the harrowing story of a 14-year-old (Rachel Mwanza) kidnapped from her village and forced to become a child soldier. Escaping with an albino friend, she hopes to leave the war behind, but tragedy intervenes.
Based on judicial testimonies and reports, Italian filmmaker Daniele Vicari’s Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood dramatizes the raid by 300 police officers against protestors and journalists lodging at the Armando Diaz school at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa. Amnesty International dubbed the attack, which left 93 injured and three in a coma, “The most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country since the Second World War.”