- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Under the Sun

| December 16, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Under the Sun.

North Korea is interesting for thirty minutes. This is an exaggeration, but my meaning behind this is that the state of North Korea is fascinating. But after awhile, you learn everything there is to know about North Korea. Once you understand the Korean War and the dynasty of the Supreme Leader, that’s really it. And those things are interesting, but there really hasn’t been any real developments with the country that warrant a huge expose. We know North Korea has a horrible dictatorship. We know North Koreans don’t have basic human rights. We know all of these things. So this feels kind of like a re-tread.

Under the Sun follows(?) filmmakers as they make an approved documentary for the North Korean government about a little girl living in the country. From this you see how the footage is manipulated and how they set things up to be perfect and reflect what they want you to see. There are no talking heads. There is no narration. There is nothing stereotypically “documentary” about this film. You just see a lot of uncut footage for the most part. So the film gives off more of a surreal vibe to it. You just kind of float from scene to scene. Which is really fun and interesting for the first thirty minutes. Then you get the point. And you start wondering “Geez, is this what all of the film is?”

Yes. That is what the rest of the film is.

I think it is a really interesting concept. And it isn’t even that I think it is poorly executed. I genuinely think you can’t pull this concept off. The idea of a film where you see all of the stuff that the North Korean government, or any government for that matter, wants to cut out, is an interesting one. But, you have to remember why deleted scenes exist. When you have a copy of your favorite movie and you watch the deleted scenes, you might think “Oh that was fun!” but you also realize why those scenes were cut. They didn’t add much to the film. They were fluff. They were pointless. And Under the Sun is just deleted scenes. So at the end of the day you have to ask yourself “Is a film of deleted scenes pointless?” And that question can be answered in multiple ways.

I could get past this if Under the Sun said anything new. But it doesn’t. If you know anything about North Korea, you are going to be thinking “Yeah, I know.” and “Yeah, I get it.” This isn’t some kind of mind-melting film where you are going to realize something new about the situation. This is saying everything you already know and then it just ends. To the point where I wouldn’t even say that I watched this film. It would be more accurate to say I just stared at my computer screen for two hours until this film stopped playing.

I wouldn’t recommend checking this film out. It stays far beyond it’s welcome and I can’t say that it does so with grace. If the concept sounds cool to you, maybe watch the first fifteen minutes and then decide if it captivates you to watch the rest of it. For me at least, that didn’t happen. And the North Korean Film Interest if very quickly losing its charm across the board for all film.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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