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I also don't know if Kurosawa who the lead of the story is...is this Mifune's story or Shimura's?
Yeah, the story seems to be told from the doctor's perspective, but the plot itself primarily revolves around Matsunaga. I think it would've been more interesting if Matsunaga was the prime focus of both.



I bundle two short reviews into one post. Had a hard time writing anything, so these are short and fragmented sketches.

Mother (2009)

This is probably my fourth Bong Joon-ho film (though, admittedly, I don't remember anything about Memories of Murder). He's a technically proficient director, but I've failed to connect with any of his works. Mother continues that trend.

The offbeat writing of characters and story feels out of place (like the acting in Lanthimos's films, it sticks out like a sore thumb). It keeps you from feeling anything for these fictional people. Maybe it's a joke I don't get.

The leading lady does a great job. No one else has much of a character to play. There are some stunningly beautiful shots. The twist felt obvious. Technically good stuff that doesn't do anything for me. I don't hate it, I'm just indifferent.

--
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)

I've never liked Jackie Chan's movies. I respect his stunts and physique, but the films are often awkwardly childish. They're like slapstick comedy without clever writing or charisma dressed up as a kung-fu film.

Fights are plenty but go on for too long. Strikes lack impact, and they feel more like choreographed dancing than actual fighting (which they sort of are, but I'd appreciate an illusion). The story gluing the fights together is dull and stupid even by the genre standards. There are no characters to speak of.

While I often enjoy the 70s movies the most, the martial arts films of that era are usually trash. Snake in the Eagle's Shadow isn't an exception.
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Taking ass and kicking names
I was going to watch Black Rain tonight, but a 2 hour black and white film about the devastating effect of nuclear weapons is a little heavy for me right now. I am going to watch Jackie Chan instead.



Rashomon (1950)
...what it was aiming for eludes me. I'm guessing what people like is the enigma of which of the four stories are correct? Perhaps Rashomon is meant to be a mind puzzle where one uses logic and insight to find similarities in the four stories and then decipher the truth from that...

Rashomon (1950)
...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...
Ah, that explains it! I always wondered just what Kurosawa was wanting to show us.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Ah, that explains it! I always wondered just what Kurosawa was wanting to show us.
It could be.
It's definitely my attempt at a guess at it. lol
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- This is one of those films where I liked it on first viewing but I feel like watching it again might actually make me dislike it, but that's pretentious existentialism for you.



rbrayer's Avatar
Registered User
Dust in the Wind (1986)

I was not adequately prepared for this film. Usually, when I hear "coming-of-age romance," my mind doesn't go to either "narrative experimentation" or "unexplained time jumps/flashbacks." and I'm not going to lie, I initially found this to be beautiful but slow and very hard to follow. I've since read up a bit on Hou Hsiao-hsien and his style, and it seems clear that this one would benefit from concentrated repeat viewings. Nevertheless, the movie does impliedly teach you to watch it as it goes, and I found the story more comprehensible as I went along.

But from what I could tell/can gather, the story is only a small part of the point of this coming-of-age "romance" (quotes as this is the least romantic romance I can remember seeing, so much is unstated and assumed - the leads barely make physical contact let alone kiss or anything further). The point seems to be setting a particular mood and exploring coming-of-age and city v. country/modernization themes. In this regard, the film succeeded. The contrast between Wan's city life and life with his family in the country is stark. The maturation of Wan and his pseudo-partner Huen is told visually and subtly but is clear enough. Interesting, if a bit boring on 1st watch. I will return to it. For now it's an incomplete. 3.5/5.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Snake in the Eagle's Shadow aka Se ying diu sau (1978)

Finally.
FINALLY!
A cinematic endeavor of actual substance! Invigorating the cerebral while challenging one's philosophical speculations with artistry and poetic nuance.

Oh, wait, no, not really.

It's cheesy, B-Movie, Saturday Matinee, popcorn-chomping parody. That, for me, holds a nostalgic allure that was pleasantly appeased. Hitting very many of the Checklist of its ilk: Two warring schools of Kung Fu, an unrealized Master awaiting an elder Master to release that potential, Choreographed Dances resembling Fights, and a ton of silly behavior with over-the-top acting.
Adding to the mix, Jackie Chan, doing what he does best - Kung Fu infused with a comedic, slapstick.


Also, there were a couple of very cool cameos, including Chi Ling Chiu as the Brick Breaking Teacher, Mr. Liang, who I know as Tailor from my ultimate favorite parody/Tip of the Hat film Kung Fu Hustle.


So, yeah, while this may not be a film of substance, it still feeds the kid in me who got a kick out of these films back in the seventies.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Dust in the Wind (1986)

I was not adequately prepared for this film. Usually, when I hear "coming-of-age romance," my mind doesn't go to either "narrative experimentation" or "unexplained time jumps/flashbacks." and I'm not going to lie, I initially found this to be beautiful but slow and very hard to follow. I've since read up a bit on Hou Hsiao-hsien and his style, and it seems clear that this one would benefit from concentrated repeat viewings. Nevertheless, the movie does impliedly teach you to watch it as it goes, and I found the story more comprehensible as I went along.

But from what I could tell/can gather, the story is only a small part of the point of this coming-of-age "romance" (quotes as this is the least romantic romance I can remember seeing, so much is unstated and assumed - the leads barely make physical contact let alone kiss or anything further). The point seems to be setting a particular mood and exploring coming-of-age and city v. country/modernization themes. In this regard, the film succeeded. The contrast between Wan's city life and life with his family in the country is stark. The maturation of Wan and his pseudo-partner Huen is told visually and subtly but is clear enough. Interesting, if a bit boring on 1st watch. I will return to it. For now it's an incomplete. 3.5/5.
Always enjoy discovering "mindsets" before checking out certain movies. And this is a good one, THANKS rbrayer!



Taking ass and kicking names

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow

Jackie Chan was never the heir to Bruce Lee, he was the heir to Buster Keaton. He just happened to do Kung Fu films. Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is pretty light on plot and pretty much everything other than choreography and charisma. It's unfortunate that the best part of the film from a plot development standpoint is also a bit on the animal cruelty side and depending on which version you watch, a bit on the censored side. The version I watched had the snake vs cat scene unmolested, and I have to say, it was the most intense scene in the film, sort of betraying the tone set by the rest of the film. I don't like that it was censored, because it provides a bit of a continuity issue. That said, I get it if somebody wouldn't want to watch a snake and cat fight each other. Watching the fight scenes reminded me of popping and locking, in a good way. Obviously the fight scenes are not realistic, which I figure I should mention since I had a beef with the fight scenes in the other martial art films, but I guess I am more forgiving to this style since it feels a little more mythological and cartoonish, with the warring schools and trying to be like animals when you fight. A lot of this stuff is pretty boilerplate for martial arts films, but I could watch Jackie Chan all day and not get bored. Now, name ten things that aren't Jackie Chan.





Dust in the Wind (1986)

A reflective look at two young people in love from a small, rural village in Taiwan. Director Hsiao-Hsien Hou takes a 'far away view' of the life and people of a remote mining village. There's not many close-ups, instead the director keeps his camera lens more mid range, this gives us a feeling of being an invisible observer of these people's lives. As such we don't deeply get to know them, instead they're a canvas in which we can hang our own thoughts and feelings onto. We do learn enough about them to understand what kind of lives these people live. They don't have big fancy houses and they do have to travel far away to the big city of Taipei just to earn a decent living. Life sort of just happens and they follow along, which is often true wherever you live in the world.

Dust in the Wind
, isn't the type of film that leaves one feeling emotionally stirred or deeply contemplative and yet it does 'feel' like I've seen a slice of life in a far away place both geographical and temporally out of reach.

I enjoyed it.

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rbrayer's Avatar
Registered User
Tears of the Black Tiger (2000).

So this HOF has been treating me well. Since a shaky experience with Chocolate, the films have all been at least outstanding in some respects. Some in many.

Well, the streak is over.

This movie is bad. Like MST3K (or Rifftrax) should riff bad, which at least means somewhat entertainingly bad. If Sirk, Leone, and Peckinpah had a baby, but that baby had severe mental disabilities, it might look something like this movie. Supposedly there is parody here. To me this seems like a post-hoc justification, like when Tommy Wiseau now claims The Room was always meant as a comedy. I did laugh a few times, but at parts I don't think were intended as funny. Maybe it's cultural.

The heart of the film is the star-crossed relationship between Dum Dua and Rumpoey Prasit, who connect as children and form a strong love that never wavers. Dum Dua and his family work on Rumpoey's father's estate. They are banished to rural Thailand when Dum is blamed for an incidentin which he defends Rumpoey's honor. Through a series of events, Dum becomes an outlaw, the "Black Tiger," initially to avenge his father, murdered by gangsters, but becomes quite good at it, drawing the jealousy of his colleague, Mahesuan. Meanwhile, Rumpoey gets engaged to a military captain, Kumjorn, who is hopelessly in love with Rumpoey. This sets up the movie's main conflicts.

A few problems: there is ZERO chemistry between Dum and Rumpoey. Zero. That's partially because the actor, Chartchai Ngamsan, has exactly three facial expressions, only two of which he frequently uses. He seems to perpetually have indigestion. The actress who plays Rumpoey, Stella Malucchi, is one of the film's few bright spots. She can act. Unfortunately, that works to the film's disadvantage, as it highlights Ngamsan's weaknesses. It's very difficult to believe they are even a couple, much less in love. It's just as strange that Dum's rival, Kumjorn, does not realize until the end of the film that Rumpoey is in love with someone else. Rumpoey does not so much as make eye contact with Kumjorn until they are already married. Kumjorn is unbelievably clueless in the literal sense - I don't believe any human could be that oblivious. If this is meant to be funny, the film does not clarify this point.

The fighting and shooting etc are alright, but no patch on Peckinpah. The movie is also way over-impressed with itself, like when it stops to rewind and show you how amazing a shot was early on. The shots are silly and nonsensical. One involves two bullets hitting each other directly. Absurd enough. What's really ridiculous though is that the path of only one bullet (a villain) is diverted while the other bullet (that of the hero) hits its mark.

I have no problem with movies that mash up genres so long as each side is done well. Here, neither side works on either a character or action level. 1.5 stars, and I think I'm being generous.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Tears of the Black Tiger aka Fah talai jone (2000)

Parodying the old Western serials with Harlequin Romance Novels influence, TofBT brings a very Thai flavored color scheme of bright pastels that, in its self, contrasts the sepia-toned norm of old-time Westerns. Even the mix from wooden performances to over-the-top exaggerations causes one to think back on some of the more nonsensical versions that still, somehow, retain a kind of fondness when viewing them.
For me, Tears of the Black Tiger succeed in that manner. Even after admitting and agreeing to much of the critiques in other reviews for this film. As well as the highlights regarding the truly exquisite color scheme and Stella Malucchi's performance of Rumpoey.


Are those highlights enough to lift it above the male counterparts' bad acting? For me, yeah, it does. Especially since they are parodies of past stoic Good Guys and boisterous Bad Guys, befitting the style of the film regarding poetic-infused Romance to the point that the "illusion" created by movie making is in its self, slightly parodied. Many of the effects having a bit of cheesiness to them that still endears without becoming annoying. A tricky slope that will not work for everyone but does for me.

This has been a very pleasant revisit for me.



I've got two more films to watch before the deadline, I'll make it! But wow, I've never been in so many HoFs at once. I'm in this Asian HoF, 25th HoF, Russian HoF and the Personal Recommendation III....Lots of movies on my plate! Then I have to finish my voting ballot for the upcoming Foreign Language Countdown whose deadline is June 10th




Paprika (Satoshi Kon 2006)


I won't claim that I understood all of the dream trippin' stuff, but I enjoyed the film anyway. In fact, not fully getting every scene would seem to be intentional on the part of the director...or maybe I'm just clueless

For me the look of the ultra-richly inhabited dream world was visually cool...and I love films often just for their creative visuals....and Paprika was very creative visually! So much cool stuff to see that I had a hard time choosing a photo, so I went with a simply image.

Besides the dream stuff I liked that the lead was a female. I often like movies with female leads as to me they have more heart. The alter ego of the carefree Paprika & her real self the cloistered Chiba also made the film a fun and worthwhile watch.