Asian Film Hall of Fame

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Guy who likes movies
I watched Black Rain (1989), directed by Shôhei Imamura. The film is about the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing and its effects on the survivors and their lives. The black and white cinematography is beautiful and effective and the film has a vintage look and feel to it, which works really well. The sequence showing the bombing and its devastation is disturbing and powerful and meticulously well crafted. The performances were good, but I felt that the story was not always as engaging as it could have been. The film dragged in parts and felt longer than it was. I think they could have cut out 10-15 minutes and made it a stronger film. Overall, a good film, but not quite a masterpiece for me. My rating is a
.



Tears of the Black Tiger (Wisit Sasanatieng, 2000)


Being a post 90's film described with words like "homage", "love letter" and "parody", I was concerned this could be an irony-soaked cringe-fest but thankfully the whole thing rings sincere even at its most wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments and its probably the exact right amount of inspired and never tips the scale into feeling indebted to the western genre. A melodrama that gets its tone right and has that sincere feeling to it will always sucker me in and this was no exception but its definitely pulling off a bit of a balancing act here as a lot of the creative choices here could have gone belly up and been extremely eye-roll inducing in a less, again, sincere film. The music adds a lot here too, with a really lovely score and especially the original(?) songs (though there is one track from the score that is maybe a bit too borrowed from Morricone) which is always so important for nailing the tone of a film. Transitioning from the feel of the film to the look, this thing is really beautiful. The colours are so bright and so pretty without being overly saccharine or, god forbid, neon in any way and its also just grungy enough to invoke a bit of that low-budget charm and honestly you'd have lost a lot of that earnestness with either a higher budget or a more meticulously crafted film no doubt. There's also just so much imagination on display in terms of the presentation and a lot of the ideas in this regard feel very in the moment and spontaneous, which is great imo as it makes the film feel really loose and alive. I also really love how chunky the gore effects are in the handful of moments they show up. Overall, this film is a delight and my only complaint is that its maybe a hair too long. Would be a great double-feature with Lemonade Joe.



I finally played all the way through Super Mario 64 this year, I beat Bowser but I still have about 6-7 stars left to collect
Didn't do that one, but I did do Super Mario Sunshine and Galaxy



Guy who likes movies
I just finished watching Hanagatami (2017), directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi. Sorry to say but this film did not work for me at all. First it is way, way too long. There was no reason for this film to be 2 hours and 49 minutes. There are lots of very long movies that I love, but if a movie is going to be that long, it has to be exceptionally well made and/or entertaining. I didn't film this was either. I didn't like any of the characters and the story was not sufficiently compelling or engaging. I did like some of the visuals, but that was not enough to redeem the film for me. I've seen Hausu (1977) by the same director and loved it, but this was the opposite experience for me. My rating is a
.




Drunken Angel (Kurosawa, 1948)

Classic Kurosawa with terse & intense characters battling their inner demons in a vivid setting that defines the story. I wanted an image of that sewer water pond that seem to draw the despots like flies. The gangsters rule the roast and have arisen during the U.S. occupation of Japan. There's a subconscious layer to the film which functions as an expose on the breakdown of the Japanese culture which has become fixated on things western.

We don't see any U.S. servicemen up close in the film but I couldn't help but notice how much western influence was apparent. From the signs in English on the buildings to the U.S. style dance clubs and to the clothing the women and the gangsters wore. To me that was fascinating as this was made a scant three years after the war and during the American occupation.

No complaints here! This was a top notch film for me. As Ed would say Fudge ya! or something like that






Black Rain (1989)

*spoilers*

Almost every night before I go to bed I read about the movie that I watched earlier that night. I look up the career & bio stories of the main actors on IMDB...and so often I read that the charming young actress or handsome young actor who I just seen in that night's movie had died young, too young. Often from health issues or some tragic event that came out of nowhere.

Black Rain
was like the stories of those actors gone before their time. So full of hope and dreams, then like a light blinking out their gone. Everyone in Black Rain will be gone as they sicken and die from the radiation poisoning. We expect the older uncle and aunt to go. We expect the old sick people who spend their days fishing for carp to pass. But it seemed so unfair that such a young and lovely girl and so full of life would succumb to the black rain. She looked so happy.

We see this young woman relaxing with a hot bath as she enjoys the moment. We see her looking so youthful and serene...then a clump of her hair falls out, and she is left with the realization of her impending future, as she stares at strands of own hair held in her hand.



Drunken Angel (Akira Kurosawa, 1948)

"Fine, I guess I do like Kurosawa", I reluctantly utter to myself following my viewing of this. Although through most of the film I was thinking "this is nice but I'm not gonna have much to say about it" and honestly that's still kind of the case but it did continue to grow on me as it went on as the filmmaking got more and more expressive, especially in that dream sequence and Mifune's last scene. There's a lot of real nice music in this and that's what mostly hooked me early on but the film going on to be extremely well paced made it easy to stay in. Yeah, just a simple, well executed film for the most part. Being made when it was of course I'm not surprised the film had an epilogue to wrap up the themes but I really wish it didn't because where final act ended was perfect. That doesn't prevent me from thinking this is still a great film and I guess I should stop dodging Kurosawa now that he's got two films I really love.



Hanagatami (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2017)

This is it, the film Obayashi spent 40 years trying to make and you don't need to be told that because it is felt whist watching and even though the man managed to squeak out another masterpiece after this (Labyrinth of Cinema) this is truly his swan song. I don't think anyone has made films as absolutely soul-rattling as Obayashi has in this last leg of his career (I desperately need to track down Casting Blossoms to the Sky). God, I don't know how to quantify how essential this film is. Even after multiple viewings I'm sitting here post-credits and can just feel this film in my chest, in my bones, in the wells of my eyes still threatening to pool over. The free-flowing structure and masterful control of tone gives you so much breathing room that you can just bask in it and have the bitter but painfully hopeful emotions wash over you with time losing all meaning. Having only seen Hausu, a couple random director-for-hire type films, and these final 3 masterworks of his I'm dying to find out exactly when it was that he perfected cinema. RIP to a legend.



The trick is not minding
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow


I dig martial arts films. Much like slashers, you know what you’re in for.
Sometimes you can one across a gem though. This hits somewhere in the middle.

It’s your standard stranger shows up and teaches some wayward youngster Kung fu. Throw in some bad guy looking to kill the teacher, and the student learning some self respect along the way and this is why you have.

The saving grace here, is the student is played by some guy named Jackie Chan. Perhaps you have heard of him? 😜
As always, his comic timing helps put some charm in an otherwise standard martial arts flick.

The Kung fu works as well as any other, but it’s better then say 5 Element Ninjas, and almost on par with Mad Monkey Kung Fu. Not bad really.



Rashomon: I remember on my first watch of Rashomon I didn't really get it; I asked myself why all the critics cared about the 'multiple perspectives' aspect of it, even though in nearly all the perspectives it is the bandit that is guilty. In further consideration I understand it a bit better: Don't look at it from a murder mystery angle, look at it from a story angle. The point of showing different perspectives isn't to show who's really the killer and who's not, it's to show that people will usually try to make themselves look good or guiltless when giving their side of a story. Now I appreciate the film a bit more. I'm still not a massive fan of the ending though: I understand it's trying to appeal to the theme of the good and bad aspects of humanity, but it still feels too unrelated to the main story.

Apart from that I have nothing else to say, other than it's shot wonderfully and Mifune is great as always.

Very good pick Allaby.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Drunken Angel aka Yoidore tenshi (1948)

Sanada: You know Takahama's clinic? Takahama and I were classmates at med school. Looking back, he and I were like night and day even then. He was always buttoned-down. And what was I like? Pawned my clothes to pay for brothels. It was my nature, but if only I hadn't strayed back then. But strays always have their reasons.

With a performance that secured his longtime working relationship with Director Akira Kurosawa (as usual,) I thoroughly enjoyed Toshirô Mifune as the gangster dying of TB. But, it was, for me, along with Kurosawa's intentions, that this was Takashi Shimura's film as the "Drunken Angel," Dr. Sanada. His mixture of gruff cynicism and dedication to helping his patients brought forth some great scenes and dialogue, especially when it came to the banging of heads between him and Mifune's Matsunaga. Always ending their arguments by throwing sh#t at each other as Matsunaga stormed out. It was a great dynamic that I've seen very often but still, fully enjoy and rate this very highly among their ilk.

As far as the growing list of Kurosawa films I have seen I would put this Blind Grab around mid to lower level and only because of the others - so far. Since, in the end, it is STILL Kurosawa, it is [email protected] good. My initial respect and admiration of his craft are continually being confirmed as I (finally) start seeing more and more of his work. My desire to see more seems to grow with equal gusto with these recent opportunities provided by these HoFs.
__________________
What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue:
Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow


I dig martial arts films. Much like slashers, you know what you’re in for.
Sometimes you can one across a gem though. This hits somewhere in the middle.

It’s your standard stranger shows up and teaches some wayward youngster Kung fu. Throw in some bad guy looking to kill the teacher, and the student learning some self respect along the way and this is why you have.

The saving grace here, is the student is played by some guy named Jackie Chan. Perhaps you have heard of him? 😜
As always, his comic timing helps put some charm in an otherwise standard martial arts flick.

The Kung fu works as well as any other, but it’s better then say 5 Element Ninjas, and almost on par with Mad Monkey Kung Fu. Not bad really.
While looking for a good link of this film the small bits I saw as I searched for a good subtitle with original dialogue the flood of memories of cheesy Kung Fu films from the 70s that played out on local TV back then on Saturday Afternoons came rushing in.
Adding that it'll be a young Jackie Chan in the early years of his career, this is going to be a very FUN film to watch.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
***A double post for the Asian and the Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame III***






Rashomon (1950)

Somewhat sheltered from the downfall of rain, two men convey to a third the bafflingly emotional experiences of a trial they had just witnessed.

Unlike many judicially oriented mysteries that, at one point or another, muse the fallibilities of Human Nature, Rashomon switches the focus entirely around. To the point that we not only do not see the ones convening over the trial, but we never hear them either. Kurosawa's camera is setting us in their place.
As each person's perspective of events is told and the variance of detail is emphasized, we are given a more metaphorical/philosophical conundrum to ponder. The three men's perspective on Life and Humanity creates a kind of discussion board. They are analyzing the stories given and why people lie. The discovery of the truth of the incident in question becoming secondary.

I have always been hesitant about seeing this film for some cockamamie reason whenever I heard it spoken of. Thinking it may be a hard watch or perhaps a little too much of a dirge to experience.
I was very pleasantly mistaken.
Understanding Kurosawa's intentions beforehand also helped so that my mindset wasn't about who was guilty, who was covering up for who, but, instead, on the greater scheme of things that is a staple of an Akira Kurosawa film: Examining Human Nature via Visceral Scenarios. The examinations are taking a more central stage as opposed to being the filler of good storytelling.
Rashomon, for me, emphasizes this even more than my previous viewings of his Movie List so far.
So much so that it is almost an easy mistake to forget to mention the cinematography that is always exceptional when watching Kurosawa. The composition, Point of View, and so forth, adding so much to the subject matter in the cerebral, emotional and visceral aspects.

Another great Kurosawa film and another excellent experience causing yet another, [email protected] YAY