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theoddone33

Asian films

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I need to keep up with this thread more--it's very good!

1. Spring in a Small Town (1948)

2. A Better Tomorrow (1986)

3. Days of Being Wild (1990)

4. Yellow Earth (1984)

5. A City of Sadness (?)

6. Long Arm of the Law (1984)

7. Dragon Inn (1967)

8 Boat People (1982)

9. Hsia Nu (1971)

10. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

This isn't a bad list at all; I'd like to see the full 100. Some notes:

I haven't been able to track down Spring in a Small Town anywhere, but Tian Zhuangzhuang's recent remake (Springtime in a Small Town) is an exceptionally good chamber drama with cinematography by the renowned Mark Li Ping-bing (The Flowers of Shanghai, In the Mood for Love). The British authority on Asian films, Tony Rayns, has written: "It was virtually unknown even in Chinese film circles until the negative was restored in the early 1980s; director Fei Mu was neither a Communist Party member nor a fellow traveler, and so the Party servants who compiled the official history of Chinese film in the 1960s routinely villified him and underestimated his output. However, the film is now accepted as a masterwork, at least in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and its international standing grows with each screening."

Kino International theatrically released Days of Being Wild earlier this year and even have its trailer online.

A City of Sadness is a 1989 film by the extraordinary Taiwanese filmmaker, Hou Hsiao-hsien. It's a very moving and powerful interweaving of history and drama that set a template for many new wave films in Taiwan. It's on VHS in the UK but not here.

Dragon Inn hasn't been released on video here either, but you can see clips from it in Tsai Ming-liang's recent minimalist comedy, Goodbye Dragon Inn, which I highly recommend.

Boat People was directed by one of China's most admired woman filmmakers, Ann Hui (July Rhapsody).

Hsia Nu is known here as A Touch of Zen, an arty martial arts drama; it's on DVD.

Edited by Doug C

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Tian Zhuangzhuang's recent remake (Springtime in a Small Town) is an exceptionally good chamber drama with cinematography by the renowned Mark Li Ping-bing (The Flowers of Shanghai, In the Mood for Love). 

I thought Chris Doyle had done the superb cinematography for In the Mood for Love (the only aspect of that film that remains with me), but pulling up the film


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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in indonesia we got a director whose style looks like iranian director, he is garin nugroho, i think one of hi movie had been selected as un Certain Regard in Cannes a couple years ago,check his out if u could

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Most of WKW's films have had 2-3 cinematographers, as I recall. Partially due to his unconventional and drawn-out filmmaking style, I suppose.

Andrew Lau did principle cinematography on As Tears Go By... and then I saw recently that Christopher Doyle did some work on Lau's highly acclaimed directorial project Infernal Affairs. The HK film industry is a funny place.

I need to catch up on my Ann Hui films. Both July Rhapsody and that newer one with Nicholas Tse have been sitting on my shelf for ages. I feel... deficient. I have been keeping an eye out for the older version of Springtime in a Small Town as well, but to no avail. I'd heard mixed things about the newer version so I've avoided it thus far.

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I loved the newer version; Tian (The Blue Kite) is a major filmmaker and his films are the sort you should try no matter what you read. smile.gif

Only slightly tooting my own horn here, DVDTimes in the UK have just posted very positive reviews of our new Humanity and Paper Balloons and The Naked Island region 2 MoC discs. I've just completed essays for the liner notes of Onibaba and Kuroneko, which we'll be releasing in a month, and they're both very fine horror films but they contain a significant degree of eroticism (particularly the former), so consider yourself warned if that's not your cup o' tea.

(DVDTimes also have an indifferent review of the region 0 DVD of Center Stage/Actress by Stanley Kwan, which is a major Hong Kong film from the '90s. Highly recommended.)

Edited by Doug C

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Only slightly tooting my own horn here, DVDTimes in the UK have just posted very positive reviews of our new Humanity and Paper Balloons and The Naked Island region 2 MoC discs.  I've just completed essays for the liner notes of Onibaba and Kuroneko, which we'll be releasing in a month, and they're both very fine horror films but they contain a significant degree of eroticism (particularly the former), so consider yourself warned if that's not your cup o' tea.

I watched Onibaba about a month ago or so, and liked it quite a bit. However, I was surprised at how much less of a horror film it was than I was expecting, if that makes any sense. There are definitely a few "scary" moments, but on the whole, it's much more than a simple horror flick. And while it's got quite a bit of nudity, there's a desperation to the sexuality that keeps it from being exploitative (despite the fact that the female leads are topless for a good deal of the movie). Actually, it's a very sad film in that regard, in the jealousy that occurs as well as the repressed and destructive sexuality that is seen. And what a gorgeous film, too. The scenes in the tall grass with those eerie sounds, the final climactic chase in the rainstorm, and the final shot and bit of a dialog.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Yeah, I guess Onibaba isn't really a "horror film" per se, but it is a pretty intense drama that dips into supernatural thriller territory, for sure. Certainly, it has complex themes asking how ruthless one can be in order to survive and still retain one's humanity. And it has a lot to say about the way the poor have always suffered on account of wars being declared by the powerful.

I think you're right about the nudity not being exploitative, opus; it's erotic but it's not a skin flick. Shindo uses sexuality to express humanity's vitality and life force in both positive and negative ways.

And all those shots of the endlessly blowing reeds! It's one of the most visually impressive films I've seen.

Kuroneko has never been released on video in the US, but it's a wonderful companion piece that I would highly recommend to any fans of Onibaba. In many ways, it's less erotic and feverish, and more elegant, romantic, and tragic. It also embraces a much more overtly supernatural milieu (vampiric ghost cats!) that is quite fun. (And Shindo's The Naked Island is absolutely wonderful in a very different mode.)

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(And Shindo's The Naked Island is absolutely wonderful in a very different mode.)

I just read the description of this on the MOC site, and it sounds interesting. When is it coming out?


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Actually, it's already in the can and we're mailing out screeners; I linked to the DVDTimes review above.

If Twitch does non-region 1 DVD reviews, we'd be happy to send them some titles...?

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I just started Shower last night and the wife and I found it truly enjoyable. It was late so we put off the conclusion for tongiht or tomorrow. But I just wanted to mention it. Has anyone else seen it?

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The conclusion of Park Chan-Wook's revenge trilogy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance opens in Korea this Friday. I'm hoping for a DVD copy in the next couple months.

Here's a link to a short article about Lee Yeong-ae, who plays a lead in the film. She also played a main role in JSA. Lady Vengeance also stars Choi Min-Sik of Failan and Oldboy fame... presumably as the primary target of the titular vengeance this time around.

The movie sounds creepy... though I hope it's not as stomach-churning as Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. I can't wait.

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Two other notable Korean films just came out on DVD, Crying Fist (which is directed by the guy who did Arahan, a real guilty pleasure of mine, and stars Choi Min-Sik) and A Bittersweet Life (directed by the same guy who did A Tale Of Two Sisters). I've really been looking forward to both of these. What little I've seen, such as the English website for A Bittersweet Life, has really intrigued me, and the press so far has been really good. Some folks are even labelling A Bittersweet Life as this year's OldBoy, and I can see that. It looks very violent, very stylish, and quite brutal.

I've really been looking forward to both of these, but I'm going to wait until all of the wedding hubbub dies down before ordering them.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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A new trailer for Tom Yum Goong is up... click here. Looks even bigger and badder than Ong-Bak... whee!


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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A few interesting links:

Sammi Cheng is vying for the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival. That's not something you'll hear often I bet, but now I'm very interested in the film, which is called Everlasting Regret and also stars Tony Leung. Also up for the Best Actress award is Lee Young-ae, undoubtedly for her work in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

Here is an article about Wong Kar Wai and 2046.

Here is something else I'm excited about... Andrew Lau's Hollywood debut will star Richard Gere. Andrew Lau helmed the long-running Young and Dangerous series as well as the more recent Infernal Affairs trilogy. This is a director who is, in my opinion, at the top of his game, and it will be exciting to see what he can do in Hollywood.

And finally... a short article about Tony Jaa.

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I want to add a few thoughts on Asian films - and I hope I'm not repeating what everyone has already written about.

For China - The King of Masks is one of the beautiful, heartwarming films I have EVER seen.

Korea - Kim-ki-Duk - I have seen three of his films: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again, The Isle, and Samaritan Girl. SSFWS is by far the best one, I think, with The Isle coming in 2nd. (At first I did not like The Isle, but then I watched it again, and found it beautiful though cruel and unusual.)

Japan - Everything that Kurosawa does is superb. Ran is one of my favorites. I recently finally got to see Kagemusha and thought it was great, using the same lead actor that was in Ran. I love all of his films with Mifune, especially Seven Samurai, Rashoman, and Yojimbo.

Also for Japan - Ozu! I am reading a good book on Ozu by Donald Richie. I like Tokyo Story, Floating Weeds (including the silent version), and others, but my favorite is "Good Morning" with those two little boys!

Has anyone else seen The King of Masks?

Sara

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I recommend:

Infernal Affairs I and II

Last Life in the Universe

Days of Being Wild

Bad Guy

Save the Green Planet

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Matt Zoller Seitz on the violence in Park Chan-Wook's Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance

On paper, his movies sound mindless. But if you pay attention to shots and cuts, Vengeance reveals itself as one of the most savagely intelligent movies of recent times

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I watched A Bittersweet Life, the new one from Ji-woon Kim (A Tale Of Two Sisters), over the weekend. This one has been tearing it up in the Korean box office, and I've heard some people calling it this year's OldBoy. That may be as far as style goes, because A Bittersweet Life is a very gorgeous and stylish movie, as well as quite violent. But it also left me feeling rather cold and uninvolved.

The storyline is fairly cliched - ruthless mob enforcer has a sudden change of heart, gets betrayed, goes on a rampage of revenge - but that's not what makes the movie lackluster. It's the fact that the storyline never becomes compelling in spite of the cliches. Most of the characters are paper-thin, and what development does occur is marginal at best, making it very difficult to believe the main character's sudden change of heart. Especially when he's built up as the very professional, very orderly, very efficient type of guy.

But it sure is purty...

Oh well, here's hoping Crying Fist is better.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Sounds like a poor man's Fallen Angels.

I really need to see this film again. I know I've seen it - I think it was the third WKW film I saw, after In The Mood For Love, but I really don't remember all that much aside from a shootout or two and Michelle Reis', um, housecleaning scenes. I do remember loving the movie's final scene, though not really sure why.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Link to the PDF file announcing the 'Dragons & Tigers' line-up at the Vancouver film festival.

I tend not to check out all that many Asian films whenever the VIFF rolls around, but if there's anything here you think I should prioritize, I just might do that.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter,

I'd suggest making time to see Kekexili. The only other thing that stood out was Crying Fist, which I haven't seen but am looking forward too based on the director's previous film Arahan.

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