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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Asian cinema (79)


Linkbury, Linkbender and Linkichatpong LLC

The Sheila Variations and Playbill are all celebrating the 90th birthday of Angela Lansbury today. What a long all-mediums career that woman has had. Sing her happy birthday today and emphasize the "...and many more" at the end of your song, mmmkay?
The Stake has a grumpy but well argued take on Steve Jobs that says Michael Fassbender: Great; Movie: Not.
The Guardian on auteur Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul's fears about Thailand military dictatorship - he won't be showing his new film Cemetery of Splendour there for fear that harm will come to him.
Indiewire Kate Erbland challenges you to read her interview with Olivia Wilde (Meadowland, Vinyl) without falling in love
Murtada and Jason, two of our Teammates have very split reactions on Crimson Peak.
• And there's no point linking to "news" that isn't really news even if it's being posted everywhere: i.e. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will get a new poster on Sunday and a new trailer on Monday so why write about them now when you can wait two days for actual news? TFE is totally over news announcing news that will announce news, you know? Like teaser countdowns that announce trailers that then have 4 more versions before the actual movie. ENOUGH. LIVE IN THE NOW.


Fistful of Films Andrew is taking a long hiatus from blogging but this is quite a finale: notes on his top 100+ favorite films. It's quite a range of countries, genres, styles and eras and I'm happy to see many Hit Me With Your Best Shot titles represented and if we even led them to a few of them then our series was a success. Though I must say that reading it, I'm sad he won't be there for our next two episodes - BUT DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM JOINING.

TFE Housekeeping...
We will be hosting those last two Best Shot episodes this month but we've had to cancel that Smackdown '63 we planned. Both Best Shot and Smackdown will return in the Spring as per usual. I should've known better than to plan too much in September & October as it's impossible to do big projects during festival season, 100s of movies coming out, and the build up then countdown to Oscar.


NYFF: The (Prettiest) Assassin

Nathaniel returning to life, albeit to watch a film about someone who ends it, on the closing weekend of the 53rd New York Film Festival

If you believe in cinema as a reflection of reality then every college should offer at least undergraduate courses in Becoming an Assassin because that profession is always hiring! According to the movies, there are more assassins in the world than accountants. Full disclosure: I'm no fan of this overflowing subgenre. Assassin movies, like their counterparts Gangster Dramas and Serial Killer Thrillers, often glorify death-dealing or at least cast their protagonists as noble "anti-heroes" or admirably gifted / committed to their criminal art. [More...]

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Dear Readers, obrigado, xie xie, takk, danke!

Before Fall Film Season hits us like a ton of bricks in 3...2...1.. I wanted to thank the faithful readers. Running a daily site is not even remotely easy though it may sometimes appear to be from the outside. We truly cherish those of you who tune in regularly. Especially those of you who take the time to tweet out articles, or email them to friends or share them on facebook or what not. 

Your editor Nathaniel (c'est moi) has always loved globes & maps. This could account for some of our obsession with oscar's foreign film submissions each year (today was the final day for countries to submit!). Whilst pitching an ad block to a distributor recently we got lost in statistics to where the readership actually is. More...

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Oscar Contender "The Assassin" Leads the Golden Horse Nominations

Nominations for the 52nd annual Golden Horse Awards have been announced with Taiwan's Oscar submission The Assassin leading the pack as well as netting arthouse favorite Hou Hsiao-Hsien a non-competitive statue for "Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker" to go along with his Best Director prize from Cannes earlier this year. The Assassin opens in limited US theatrical release on October 16th via Well Go entertainment. China's Oscar submission Wolf Totem, which is actually from animal-movie loving French director Jean-Jacques Annaud (!), only received 1 nomination for visual effects. The latter film is about a student living with Mongolian herders who adopts a wolf cub. 

Though The Assassin is likely to sweep the Golden Horses outside of acting (where only the ridiculously beautiful Shu Qi, Hou's regular muse, is nominated. No Chen Chang? Grrrr.) it's not the only big deal in Chinese languages cinema this year. Taiwan's Thanatos, Drunk, Hong Kong's popular crime thriller Port of Call, and China's acclaimed festival favorite Mountains May Depart also reaped several nominations. The event will be held on November 21st in Taipei. 


A complete list of nominations after the jump...

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NYFF: Cemetery Of Splendour

Jason on the the latest from beloved Thai director Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul.

From what I gather, Weerasethakul is a filmmaker easiest approached with a road-map - an iconography of expectations, of mood and mise-en-scene, to guide you gently into the good night of his magical thinking. That is to say it's best to know what you're getting into. You're best served with a reference point, a friendly little ghost to hold your hand and lead you through the invisible world he's maneuvering his camera through.

It's a world that's not just off frame, to the left or right as you might expect. It's more as if it's sitting in the seats both left and right of you in the theater, occasionally grabbing at your popcorn, maybe whispering a lightly dirty joke in your ear before resting its head on your shoulder. It's comforting... but also a little invasive. He wants all of you.

I went in alone. Cemetery of Splendour, Weerasethakul's newest film, was my first. Hey, everybody had a first at one point, right? That's what makes it first. And just like losing one's virginity I found myself bewildered, a little bit sweaty, and ultimately ashamed at myself for putting it off for so long. That's what I was afraid of? Yeah it was a little bit weird but it went down fine, and I look forward to another spin.

Splendour tells the story of a somnambulist pack of soldiers, mysteriously struck sleepy-time by their surroundings, housed in a former school and taken care of by both some friendly local women (never unfriendly enough to not give a giggling poke at their engorged dream members) as well as a series of glowing candy-cane-shaped lamps, arcing gracefully over their beds while offering the jungle (and the film) a singular neon surrealism. It's rumored that the soldiers were digging up the earth for fiber-optics cables when they were struck ill and these lamps are like living heads of those wires, War of the Worlds-style, risen up to keep a slow colorful creepy watch over their slumber.

The film slowly (I'll have to bust out my thesaurus to find variations on "slowly" and "dreamily" for this review) closes in, in its medium-to-long-shot manner, on one sleeping soldier, and one nurse-type - Itt and Jen, who manage to form a sweet and easy rapport in between the comatose moments. He usually wakes up to her massaging some part of him, which is really the quickest way to a man's heart, no matter what the foodies say.

I don't want to trace out the road-map for you any further. I think if you've already wandered in Weerasethakul-Land you basically know your way around, and you know the journey - one taken half-drifting along just an inch or two above the ground as if you, like Jen, have one leg shorter than the other - itself is the destination. What a lovely journey though - a series of small escalating emotional catharses that moves through like clouds, like a slight breeze through the fanned trees, giving prayer to the benevolent specters milling about in the underbrush.


Cemetery of Splendour is screening at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1. If you're interested in Weerasethakul, check out Nathaniel's reviews of his Palme d'or winner Uncle Boonmee.


NYFF: Journey to the Shore

Manuel here kicking off TFE's New York Film Festival coverage. The festival begins today but they've pushed back the "official" opening The Walk (2015) to Saturday due to the Pope's visit.

So let's start with a moody melodrama from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, better known for his successful horror and thriller pictures (Cure, Pulse, Retribution).

Journey to the Shore is a ghost story. This is an economical description of its plot and an acknowledgment of its genre. But it is also, its thematic concern. Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu) is mourning and missing her husband, Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano). He’s been gone for three years. We don’t quite know what’s happened to him and he doesn’t really explain himself when he appears out of nowhere in front of his wife at their apartment. Her prayers, which she’s been dutifully writing down pleading for his return, have perhaps worked. Yusuke then asks his wife to take a trip with him; like all ghosts (for what else could he be?) he has unfinished business to attend to. There’s at first a playfulness to Kurosawa’s setup: well-versed in ghost stories, his audience surely looks for dead giveaways (can he be touched? can others see him?) and much of those first scenes tease these questions out, even at one point offering the suggestion that Mizuki, in her grief, has dreamed this all up.

But that is not really the point. Yuzuke is not quite a ghost but he’s also not quite alive, and the film makes it clear soon enough that this should not be our concern. Instead, the emphasis is on Yusuke and Mizuki’s relationship. As they make their way to the “shore” of the title, Mizuki is offered glimpses of where her husband spent the last three years of his life. This gives the film an episodic feeling and there are some set pieces that work better than others (a stay at a newspaper delivery warehouse is eerie and soulful in the ways the entire film aims for, while a stay near a waterfall where the dead presumably travel to is much too schematic, using another couple to comment on our central pair).

I won’t spoil much else about Kurosawa’s film which is focused, in any case, more on mood than on plot. As I said, it is a ghost story and perhaps even from this all-too-brief summary, you can tell where the film is headed. Ghost stories, after all, are about our inability to move on. That Kurosawa literalizes much of this subtext is precisely the point but ultimately it’s unclear what we’re supposed to get from this stylistic move, especially when the film’s most captivating scenes exist outside of the film’s ghostly parables (a confrontation between Mizuki and one of her husband’s female colleagues is exquisite precisely because it is all subtext, every line laced with hidden implications, every look a tacit accusation).

Gorgeously shot and languidly paced, Kurosawa’s film was, I have to admit, a bit of a drag, its ideas both too blunt and too obscure, and try as it might, it never quite moved me, even though plenty of tears were shed on screen.


Journey to the Shore plays NYFF on Tuesday September 29th and Thursday October 1st.


'some say Link, it is a hunger, an endless aching need...♪'

The Star is TIFF about to get an "In Competition" slate at their annual festival? They've always avoided it
Playbill Sutton Foster visited "The View" and talked Thoroughly Modern Millie and her new show Younger (which she is typically excellent/adorable/funny in if you haven't yet watched it. No musical numbers yet though, boo!)
Wired has a longform oral history of ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) for its 40th anniversary, the fx house created originally for Star Wars that changed movies. 
The Daily Beast on Flula Borg, the German scene stealer from Pitch Perfect 2
Playbill this always kind of annoys me but non-nominated musicals will be performing at the Tony Awards: Gigi, Finding Neverland, and It Shoulda Been You. Better to spend the time focusing on nominees, I think.
Comics Alliance Vertigo Comics was totally prepared for the world to go wild for Mad Max Fury Road. They already have prequel comics and an art book with pre-comissioned tributes by major comic artists.
Towleroad Nick the Gardener takes you on a behind the scene tour of Magic Mike XXL for Ellen

Cannes Cannes loves Hou Hsiao-hsien’s longawaited epic The Assassin starring Shu Qi. Another Palme d'Or contender? This year seems highly competitive.  But mixed on Youth... which is apparently highly influenced by 8½
Awards Daily Sasha says that Paolo Sorrentino's Youth about two old men in the film industry, one retired (Caine) one still working (Keitel) will be catnip to Oscar voters 
In Contention says Emily Blunt is "spectacular" in Sicario but Benicio del Toro is the MVP
The Playlist [NSFW] has a clip from Gaspar Noé's Love  

"Mad" Must Reads
Because people can't stop writing about the Mad Men finale and George Miller's fourth Mad Max film. These are highly recommended!

Emily Nussbaum on the "existential brilliance" of the Mad Men finale 
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd examines how the meaning of Don Draper --or what we thought the show was about -- seem to have shifted over time
Alan Sepinwall grapples with the two Dons or rather Don & Dick and what we want from a person/character and who they really are
Mark Harris on "Artisinal Macho" and why the Mad Max Fury Road action scenes make recent action films feel so weightless 
Arthur Chu offers up a rundown of the long form feminism and "toxic masculinity" of the Mad Max franchise - the headline and subheader are kind of misleading but the actual point by point content / argument is terrific 

1979 to Go
Criterion Collection got Bette Midler to reminisce about The Rose (1979) for a dvd release!!! Take a look.