Asian Movie Challenge

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The Bad Sleep Well (1960) - Akira Kurosawa

Another good Kurosawa film. What stops me rating it higher is it felt a bit cold. It needed Kyoko Kagawa to have a more prominent role to give it a bit more heart.

Tokyo Twilight (1957) - Yasujiro Ozu

A darker movie than most of Ozu's others but it still works really well. Ryu & Hara are great as always but the performance of Ineko Arima is the highlight IMO.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) - David Gelb

Documentary about the world's leading sushi chef - who at the age of 85 still works every day. Made me hungry ...

My Asian Movie Count: 20



Aftershock

It's strange how often Chinese films reveal about the culture's view on women. This film in particular deals with an earthquake where two children are crushed under a cement foundation, and the mother must choose one to live, for saving one can only kill the other. She choses the son, and with the father already dead, the rest of her life is torture. Although the daughter didn't die, and she never intends to revisit her family again. We see how their lives pan out for the next 32 years, and it does what I love most, tell a good story while revealing societal idiosyncrasies. You'll probably cry. I didn't, but there's a lot of one-liners that are pretty overwhelming.






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Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) - David Gelb
On Wikipedia, this is listed as an American film. Though mostly Japanese people are on screen speaking Japanese, I think it's still basically an American film. It was made and financed by Americans, and is perhaps from an American point of view. I wonder if a Japanese person would try so hard to connect what Jiro does with 20th century minimalism.

On the other hand, a film like Snowpiercer, which features an almost all white cast and mostly English dialogue, is probably better thought of as a South Korean film, since it's directed and financed by South Koreans. Regarding the work itself, anyone can see how this film is as much Bong's vision as his others.

Things are basically tricky though. Stoker would also fit well into the rest of Park's work despite its lack of Korean characters, though we can't just go by directors, native or not, unless we are willing to call Brokeback Mountain an Asian film as well -- which would be just as hard as denying Tekkonkinkreet the same honor.

So, I guess if it comes down to the wire (which is unlikely, given Sane's massive lead and momentum), I'd call out Jiro for those above reasons.
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"Loves them? They need them, like they need the air."



I don't mind - it's up to Justin.

I have my own personal way of deciding where a movie is from - if the answer to three of the following four questions is one country then that's where it is from:

Where was it made?
Where is the director from?
Where did the money come from?
Where is it's focus?

Justin ruled out The Past earlier which based on the above is fair I think as the answer to three of those is mostly France. In regards to Jiro the answer is 2 for Japan and 2 for the US so it could go either way



Let the night air cool you off
I am just being lazy and using IMDb for reference and it's listed as American. Once again, sorry Sane. You are still massively ahead though.



Cool.

In a few hours I shall replace it with When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. I'm not completely sold on Mikio Naruse yet. I've only seen Late Chrysanthemums & Battle of Roses by him and whilst I liked them both I wasn't overly impressed. WaWAtS is supposed to be very good from what I've read so hopefully I'll like it more than the others.



When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) - Mikio Naruse

As I had hoped this was a much better film by Naruse. Still wasn't completely blown away but I'm now looking forward to seeing more of his films.


My Asian Movie Count: 20



Gangster Rap is Shakespeare for the Future
Was going to post this over a week ago, but my whole post got deleted so I rage quit posting for a bit.


The Sandwich Man by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Wan Ren, and Tseng chuang-hsiang

(In discussion of Hou's segment)
Interesting as a document in Hou's body of work, but compared to even his more minor achievements it's a pretty weak film. Unlike his later work in the 80s it feels entirely grounded in the limitations of an industry, with the uneven dubbing further accentuating the least naturalistic performances I've seen from Hou (though his first three films should probably have much more of that). One of Hou's major achievements was using his industry's inherent limitations and rules to craft his own personal film art, and it's clear that this is still a struggle for him here, while it does contain predecessors to some of Hou's artistic staples.

Good Men, Good Women by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

The final film in Hou's trilogy of films dealing with Taiwanese history continues its predecessors exploration of historical representation. A City of Sadness critiqued and drew power from its analysis of photography as historical reality while The Puppetmaster created national history via personal and highly subjective history. In this light, Good Men, Good Women seems to explore historical representation by both staged recreation and modern day confluences with historical past. The film exists in several tenses, including a very oblique one described by Jonathan Rosenbaum as the future conditional tense. While it's clear to me that this is the weakest of Hou's three historical films, at the level of artistic achievement reached by Hou from the mid-1980s to present this is about as meaningless a statement as saying that Ozu's Equinox Flower isn't quite as good as Early Summer.


Sansho the Bailiff by Kenji Mizoguchi

Saw this for the first time on the big screen as part of the largest Mizoguchi retrospective to ever hit the States. It began with a lecture by the always insightful and eloquent David Bordwell on Mizoguchi's film art. Needless to say, not many of my film watching experiences have topped this one.

Asian Movie Count: 3


My finals start next week and after that I'm tackling Jacques Rivette's behemoth Out 1: Noli me tangere, so this is all I'll have for a bit, hopefully many more soon after summer starts.
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Aftershock

It's strange how often Chinese films reveal about the culture's view on women. This film in particular deals with an earthquake where two children are crushed under a cement foundation, and the mother must choose one to live, for saving one can only kill the other. She choses the son, and with the father already dead, the rest of her life is torture. Although the daughter didn't die, and she never intends to revisit her family again. We see how their lives pan out for the next 32 years, and it does what I love most, tell a good story while revealing societal idiosyncrasies. You'll probably cry. I didn't, but there's a lot of one-liners that are pretty overwhelming.



I watched this on a plane to China, and you're right I cried. I cried a lot, what a plonker I looked sitting next to a stranger



Chappie doesn't like the real world
The Wind Will Carry Us -Abbas Kiarostami I watched this for the movie hall of fame, so what little I have said about it I said in that thread.

My Asian Movie Count 11



Days of Being Wild

It seems I'll be watching a few more Wong Kar Wai films. This was his first as far as I'm concerned. Reminded me of a dark partner to In the Mood for Love, the story takes place in what isn't said and what isn't done. Style.






Chappie doesn't like the real world
As Tears Go By - Kar Wai Wong This is Wong's first film. It's not a complete failure as a debut, but it was no Fallen Angels. It reminded me a bit of an S.E Hinton novel in it's depiction of familial loyalty, melodrama and the little brother living in the shadow of his more notorious older brother.

The score is awful and intrusive and some of the acting is ridiculously over the top. I found Fly especially hard to watch and really could have cared less about his fate, but Wong has style and you can see that there is a good director somewhere in the making even if this movie misses the mark. C-

My Asian Movie Count 12



Chappie doesn't like the real world
Memories of a Murder - Joon-ho Bong Wow. This movie should be required viewing for the Asian movie challenge for those who haven't seen it. It's just that good. The truth is I like these types of movies, but so often they are just so badly done that I feel a little bit dumb for watching them. I think I even might have said that I was done with the whole thriller/cop genre. Thank you, South Korea for giving us directors that no how to put together decent detective thriller.

I've only seen three of Bong's movies (he doesn't have a whole lot more in his filmography) but I list him whenever I talk about good directors and I get excited when I hear his name. He's in top form with Memories. Bong is a rare director that can give you complex and real characters, good story, taught and tense atmosphere and infuse the whole thing with his brand of humor.

The lead is a ridiculous, brutal not-so- bright detective way in over his head. His partner is more brutal and even less bright than he is. Bong is skilled at letting the characters piss you off, make you laugh and then eventually find sympathy for them. I even liked the main character quite a bit by the end. Credit goes to Kang-ho Song as well who is becoming one of my favorite actors.

As ridiculous and humorous as the two characters might get sometimes, they are always grounded and real. They never venture over into cartoon character territory which happens so often with less skilled directors and actors. They are off-set by a well educated smart detective from Seoul who has come to work the case. The relationship between the men is an important part of the movie and is just another plus to tack on the the many good things I can say about Memories.

Oh, and the ending is excellent. A+

My Asian Movie Count 13



The score is awful and intrusive and some of the acting is ridiculously over the top.
But you have to give it credit for the Cantonese version of Take My Breath Away ...

It was pretty poor overall. Only redeeming feature for me was the young Maggie Cheung but she wasn't in it enough.

A Page of Madness (1926) - Teinosuke Kinugasa

Madness is right ... I don't think I've ever seen a better depiction of insanity on screen in terms of the tone, the acting, the score, everything basically. Very hard to follow because there are no intertitles but it's coherent enough if you really pay attention. Worth watching as a piece of movie history even if you don't appreciate it as much as I did.

My Asian Movie Count: 21



Chappie doesn't like the real world
Yeah, that was fun. The chorus was sung in English which surprised me a bit. I expected it all to be sung in Cantonese. Maggie was pretty breathtaking. I almost never say this, but it would have been a better movie if it had focused on the love story more.



Not really, it's takes way longer to watch a series, at least 10 times longer.
Not the short 12-13 episode ones, they last for 5-6 hours so I even watched 2 whole anime series in one day. And I watched about 25 in one month last year (that I decided to dedicate to it, though I couldn't look at a TV screen afterwards). Haven't watched much over the past 10 months (movies or TV) due to lack of free time though.




The wind rises - Kaze tachinu (Hayao Miyazaki, 2013)


The last Miyazaki movie is a quite odd farewell. I think it is clear that it is a very personal work, probably more than any of his previous ones; this in that sense is positive, and I'd say that one of the greatest qualities of this movie is that it transmits this feel of being deeply personal. On the other hand, it is different to the other Miyazakis in some points, it is darker and more disenchanted, which has become an issue for many people who expected a different kind of movie from this director. Not in my case, but I can understand the complaints. The biopic story is, however, a topic Miyazaki hadn't touched yet and this becomes its main and probably only weak point. It looks obvious to me that the director is not fully comfortable with the storytelling that is brought here; not being used to this fragmented biopic narrative makes room for irregularity and the work doesn't look as solid as it should be. Still, there is enough quality in here to make this an outstanding piece; starting with the wonderful, visually and story-wise, depiction of flying. While I don't share his tastes on this matter, Miyazaki always manages to transmit this genuine fascination to me in his movies. The love story on the other hand is nothing short of great and the paper glider scene, simply awesome. Adding to this there is the personal feeling for being able, for once, to watch a Ghibli movie in a theater, making this a very significant experience for me.
It also was the first time I watched a Miyazaki movie in the theater since I discovered him in 2011 (you also said you discovered him in 2009 about the same time as Ponyo reached western movie theaters).


Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)


Well, what can I say about Stalker, a movie that contains so much beauty in every one of its frames that they could make the experience worth alone. Visually stunning, and in terms of its science fiction and the moral implications of the Zone, amazing. I would also like to mention that, even taking into account the slow and sort of heavy going pacing of this storytelling, the elements it throws, visual and conceptual, make this an almost constantly fascinating experience to me. In the end this first approach was satisfying enough for a movie I had built ridiculously high expectations on, and I assume this will be a great source to rewatch due to the many interpretations and intricacies this story allows, so I'm looking forward to further digging into its content.


My Asian movie count: 7
Indeed an absolute masterpiece and one of my top 10 favorite movies ever. Though I wouldn't consider this an Asian film even though most of Russia is technically in Asia it's an European country in the cultural sense (although different from Western European countries).