Asian Film Hall of Fame

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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Need links for Black Rain, Daimajin and Drunken Angel please.
sent all three. Daimajin is a dub though, which actually worked quite well, so. . .
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Paprika (2006)

Unlike I initially thought, I've probably seen this before. At least many things, like the dream parade, felt awfully familiar. I didn't remember much about the story, though, just the visuals and some individual scenes.


So, basically, Paprika reminds me a lot of Nolan's films, especially Inception and Tenet, but done in an over-the-top Japanese cartoon style (and possibly under the influence of some narcotics). I'd be surprised if Nolan hasn't seen this. I suppose it's easier to do this with fewer constraints, so Paprika works a little better, though.

I don't watch much animation. I can't help the feeling of watching a children's film in many cases. On the other hand, I do respect the total disregard towards genres shown by the Japanese. I really feel that Paprika would have needed more mature content (violence, sex, etc.) to go with the childish parade and toddler imagery. And definitely fully embrace the cosmic horror innuendo towards the end.

Pretty much like Perfect Blue, I think Paprika is okay. They both have the ingredients to be great, but to me, they lack something. Also, they both suffer from being animations, but that's more on me. Despite what rating I end up giving this, I don't know which Kon I prefer.






Hanagatami (2017)


I almost don't want to rush through this review but I have to watch way too many of these films. This is another one of those..why was it nominated type of films. I suppose the point is to expose people to films they would never see before but then again why would one want to watch something like this.


So the story takes place pre-WWII and the film shot in a heavily stylized form. It's offputing and weird but it does kind of work. The film really is experimental at times I felt like I was watching the jokes come out on screen. Characters ages, relationships seem to be suggested less so realistic. I think the old man in the film is like five years older than the "teenager".



Everything is just so all over the place and to me the weirdness works. But man who knew my giant monster movie would be one of the more grounded noms of this hall.



Tears of the Black Tiger (2000)

Less is more is a phrase that the people responsible for Tears of the Black Tiger either haven't heard of or just rebel against. It crams a spaghetti western, syrupy love story, gangster film, coming of age, and bloody revenge in less than 90 minutes. It obviously doesn't always work, but it's not for the lack of ingredients.


The film is technically clumsy, but there are some good-looking shots every now and then. The story is extremely rushed, and the love story isn't exactly one for the ages. The acting is quite awful, too (especially the wooden lead and his horribly over-acting mustached rival). Thumbs up for the bloody violence, though.

As previously mentioned, I tend to like genre-benders, but they don't always work. Tears of the Black Tiger is just trying to do too much and ends up being more like an outline than a finished product. It also doesn't help that it doesn't take itself seriously enough (kinda like for the lulz attitude). Not horrible but a little weakish.



It was slightly over a year ago that I had seen Rashomon for the first time. My initial thoughts were that it is great but not at the tippity-top of the Kurosawa oeuvre. Well, I've underrated this classic film. It still doesn't top Ikiru and (for mostly personal reasons) Yojimbo on my favorite Kurosawa films rankings. I wish I could remember exactly what it was that kept me from falling entirely in love last year, because now I'm fawning over how gorgeous this film is, how well acted, and how well the gimmick worked. The lighting tricks makes the forest look amazing and ominous. Mifune acts like a rabid hyena which isn't as cool as the howling wolf he was in Drunken Angel, but iconic nonetheless. I think the whole seance thingy didn't work for me the first time around, but this time I think the actress playing the role of the medium kills it in her short turn, which holds that whole part together for me. It's theatrical, sure, but she throws herself around with conviction and vigor. It's about time I just burn through every Kurosawa film I haven't seen.




Paprika (2006)


Paprika is a film that checks so many different boxes. At times it feels like something from years in the future and at other times it seems like it was inspired from works from the past. It's kinda sad that 10+ years later these intellectually challenging animated films don't really exist anymore.


Paprika is sort of based on the paranoid 70's thriller. You have this piece of technology that's grounded in a murder mystery. Watching it again I'm still not sure if I got everything and the nuances of the story, but unlike many other films in this countdown I'm going to revisit this one repeatedly.



Each animated piece is treated like it's a 60's setpiece in the sense that the artist isn't just drawing whatever they feel like but rather creating specific shots. It's a subtle but powerful art-form that elevates an animated genre. In older animated films the backgrounds where often under-served and took the viewer out while in today's animated films tend to have way too much in the background.






The characters body language, the changing of the set, the way the scene is set up is perfect.




But great visuals and well-constructed scenes are nothing without characters. Paprika manages to give us a dozen well developed characters throughout the story. Everyone has a different height, style and personality that is so important in foreign films because you can't use the same narrative crutch most western films use.


In the end Paprika is likely my favorite film of this Hall of Fame. Great nomination.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
It was slightly over a year ago that I had seen Rashomon for the first time. My initial thoughts were that it is great but not at the tippity-top of the Kurosawa oeuvre. Well, I've underrated this classic film. It still doesn't top Ikiru and (for mostly personal reasons) Yojimbo on my favorite Kurosawa films rankings. I wish I could remember exactly what it was that kept me from falling entirely in love last year, because now I'm fawning over how gorgeous this film is, how well acted, and how well the gimmick worked. The lighting tricks makes the forest look amazing and ominous. Mifune acts like a rabid hyena which isn't as cool as the howling wolf he was in Drunken Angel, but iconic nonetheless. I think the whole seance thingy didn't work for me the first time around, but this time I think the actress playing the role of the medium kills it in her short turn, which holds that whole part together for me. It's theatrical, sure, but she throws herself around with conviction and vigor. It's about time I just burn through every Kurosawa film I haven't seen.
I am SO very much with you on pretty much every point. Including how well the actress playing the medium nailed it. Along with the enjoyment of catching up on several Kurosawa films I've needed to see.
This is my first watch for Rashomon and everything you expressed, I felt wholehearted and I imagine if I had found the time, with all I've heard of Ikiru it would be ranking very high for me. And, like you, Yojimbo has been a personal favorite as well.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Dust in the Wind aka Liàn liàn fengchén (1986)


Like many here, I found this film was shot incredibly beautiful. It's like seeing a movie preview of an Advanced Photography/Composition Course. Director Hsiao-Hsien Hou and the Cinematographer Ping Bin Lee capture every single moment as if capturing a gorgeous photo shoot.
As I've read in other reviews, leaving me to ponder what, exactly, caused me NOT to be involved in the family and the two star-crossed lovers whose emotions for one another were kept to themselves. Was it the voyeur style of camerawork that felt more like one looking out a window to watch the neighbors? Was it the even more subdued, repressed vocalizations of those on-screen that reverberated onto us, the viewers? Causing us to be as lackluster as those upon the screen? As a result, the emotional scenes never quite impact as they could have. Such as when the father talked about when he was in the army and the sicknesses that would kill so many and how, since they were not allowed to bring back the dead, they would carry their bones on their backs. Told in a depleted, offhanded way that, as a listener, I found myself shrugging much like the father who told the story.

I do not feel betrayed by the film I watched, being unable to engage with a family that, at the core, is, or rather, could be, rather enjoyable to discover and learn about. Instead, I feel like I have betrayed the film for not being able to slip into the slow, subdued pacing Hou as set before me that counterbalances the exquisite beauty of its composition.

Perhaps another viewing somewhere in the future would make amends.

Still, a very worthwhile watch all the same.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
This leaves me Hanagatami to watch this weekend and finish up with.
Quite a wonderful and very diverse HoF. SO VERY glad to have joined in!!



This leaves me Hanagatami to watch this weekend and finish up with.
Quite a wonderful and very diverse HoF. SO VERY glad to have joined in!!
Ed, you might get more out of Hanagatami if you know this:

On August 2016, just before the film start the shooting, director Nobuhiko Obayashi was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and told he only left 3 months to live. But the strong will of making the film helped him living and finished the film.
I think a lot of the film's characters and their actions are influenced by that above fact.




Dust in the Wind: I thought it was ok. You can tell how beautiful a film looks when its just got an all around nice look and doesn't depend on heavily saturated shots or shots that are done just to show off. I did not like the acting in the film: The performers did show facial expressions that you'd except for certain events, but the dialogue is delivered in an unbelievably flat and disinterested manner. I do like films where not much happens, as they're relatable to real life, but when the actors talk like robots it's hard to apply the experiences of the characters to your own, making the film a bit hard for me to sit through. Hou Hsiao-hsien seems to have a fascination with technology; Despite being set in a somewhat rural village, he always focuses on trains and films whenever the script mentions them. I personally would've liked to have seen more scenes of the two leads interacting, I think the film didn't focus nearly enough on each of their reactions to the circumstances that befall then at the end of the film.

Interesting film Wylde, I'll have to see another one of the director's films.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Ed, you might get more out of Hanagatami if you know this:

I think a lot of the film's characters and their actions are influenced by that above fact.

wow! Thank you!
While I didn't know that, I did know it was a 40 yr endeavor for him.



The trick is not minding
Drunken Angel

Kurosawa and Mifune would begin their first picture together here, a yakuza film about a alcoholic doctor attempting to save a yakuza member, who is ailed by TB. It would be a partnership that would last through 16 films, own that is analogous to Ford and Wayne.
Mifune visits the Doc to remove a bullet from his hand. The doctor makes it clear that he has nothing but contempt for his kind, and that he has TB. It becomes evident that it will only get worse if he continues to be reckless in his lifestyle. The doctor believes he can save him, and the TB in his lungs is almost like a metaphor for his ailing soul. The Doctor even refers to himself as an Angel of sorts, even if he is a flawed one.
It’s almost as if he needs to save Matsunaga. They form a unlikely friendship, as Matsunaga actually takes his advice to heart and starts to reform.
That is complicated by the release of Okada, and old boss who served over 3 years in prison for slashing someone’s face and apparently is the ex of the doctors assistant. What follows is predictable, but it’s how it unfolds that’s so fascinating.
Kurosawa uses black and white to his advantage here, alternating his two main characters between black and white outfits throughout the film.
Mifune is great, as usual, but Takashi Shimura as the doctor is the anchor who holds it together.
It’s a good film with decent performances, but it doesn’t quite rank up there with, say High and Low.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Kazuo Miyagawa is just a bad cinematographer
Congrats, this is hands down the worst thing I read today, and considering I also read "why would one want to watch Hanagatami", this is quite an achievement.

You people are the worst.
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Congrats, this is hands down the worst thing I read today, and considering I also read "why would one want to watch Hanagatami", this is quite an achievement.

You people are the worst.

You are completely off base...take this shot for example












I mean it's like a student shot that scene compared to later Cinematographers.