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Entries in Asian cinema (86)

Tuesday
May242016

Doc Corner: Jia Zhangke Gets a Tribute in 'A Guy from Fenyang'

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we’re looking at Walter Salles' doc about Chinese film giant Jia Zhangke.

In the opening scene of Jia Zhangke’s sublime Mountains May Depart, characters dance to the Pet Shop Boys’ euphoric rendition of “Go West”. The song may have been a demand for a gay utopia, but it is also an apt choice for a movie in which characters slowly shift from rural China to the blue skies and bright lights of Australia. Zhangke’s characters are often caught between two worlds, travelling down a road (literal of metaphorical) to an unknown future and it is these pervading themes that have made him the unofficial cinematic chronicler of modern day China. They are also what makes Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang such a fitting tribute to the man.

Directed by Walter Salles, A Guy from Fenyang follows the director in intimate fashion as he returns to his hometown as well as prominent filming locations featured across his filmography in movies like Xiao Wu, The World, Platform, Still Life (my personal favourite of his works), and most prominently A Touch of Sin for which this doc was made as a sort of companion piece. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May012016

Box Office Before the Civil War

No, not that civil war. Movies weren't invented yet.

Next weekend Hollywood is steering completely clear of Captain America: Civil War on four trillion screens. Nobody's even trying to counterprogram but just conceding Disney/Marvel's complete dominion over pop culture. Unless of course you are talking arthouse where the sexiest quartet imaginable will be f***ing around in A Bigger Splash. So before Civil War destroys the box office whilst simultaneously ushering in summer movie season and embarrassing its weird thematic twin predecessor Dawn of Justice, here's a look at where the box office for the year stands in four categories along with links to reviews if we did them (though we've been doing a ton more reviews of late the biggest hits seem to have eluded us in most categories).

How many of these pictures have you seen and what did you take in this weekend? I went to Keanu which rustled up just 9 million this weekend. I was sad to feel shruggy about it since I love kittens and Key & Peele but you can only tell the same few jokes so many times...

TOP TEN OF 2016 THUS FAR
01 Deadpool $361+  Reviewish
02 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $325+ Review
03 Zootopia $323+  Reviewish
04 The Jungle Book $252+
05 Kung Fu Panda 3 $142+
06 Ride Along 2 $90+
07 10 Cloverfield Lane $71+
08 Divergent Series: Allegiant $65+
09 London Has Fallen $65+
10 Miracles From Heaven $59+

TOP TEN (NON-FRANCHISE)
01 Zootopia $323+  Reviewish
02 Miracles From Heaven $59+

03 The Boss $56+ Review
04 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi $52+

05 How to Be Single $46+

06 Risen $36+
07 The Boy $35+ 
08 Dirty Grandpa $35+
09 Gods of Egypt $31+ Reviewish
10 Hail, Caesar! $30+ A Secret Musical?

TOP TEN FOREIGN FILMS
01 The Mermaid $3.2 (China)
02 Ip Man 3 $2.6 on (Hong Kong) 

03 Kapoor & Sons - Since 1921 $2.6 (India)
04 Compadres $2.3 (Mexico)

05 Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer $1.7 (Mexico)

06 Fan $1.6 (India)
07 Neerja $1.5 (India)
08 Embrace of Serpent $1.2 (Colombia) Review | Interview
09 Wazir $1.1 (India) 
10 Ki & Ka $.8 (India)

TOP TEN DOCUMENTARIES
01 Where to Invade Next $3.8 Glenn's Review, Manuel's Review
02 Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus $.9 

03 City of Gold $.5 
04 The First Monday in May $.3  Interview

05 Francophonia $.1 

06 Vaxed: From Cover Up to Conspiracy $.1 
07 Requiem for the American Dream $.1
08 Colliding Dreams $.06 (Colombia)
09 Trapped $.06 Review
10 Los Sures $.06

 

Tuesday
Apr262016

Throne of Blood's Best Shots - A Visual Index

After realizing that we'd never featured an Akira Kurosawa on Hit Me With Your Best Shot, we obviously had to. Ran (1985) was tempting but it gets a lot of attention already. So we opted to watch his other Shakespeare inspired masterpiece, Throne of Blood (1957) which is still the best Macbeth movie even if its more Macbeth-inspired than traditionally adapted.

If you've never seen it, give it a shot. It's gorgeous and haunting and unlike most Shakespeare films grippingly compact at only 110 minutes.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot(s)
Throne of Blood (1957)

Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cinematographer: Asakazu Nakai 
Click on any of the 11 images to be taken to its accompanying article

Throne of Blood teaches us how to watch it. 
-Antagony & Ecstasy


The minute we see Isuzu Yamada as Lady Asaji in this cold spare room, we know exactly where things will go...
-Scopophiliac at the Cinema 

One of my favorite ideas in these Japanese stories is that the living and dead (or the supernatural) could live together, without a hereafter.
-Cal Roth

What Shakespeare does with language, Kurosawa and Noh do with movement.
-Dancin Dan on Film 


Kurosawa injects into the tragedy of Macbeth an incredible sensorial expressiveness of poetic dimensions by placing it in mystic version of feudal japan.
-Magnificent Obsession 


Fujimaki's own splatter-painting.
-The Film Experience

The staging of the two actors is just brilliant...
-Zev Burrows 


The camera becomes like a piece of stagecraft
-Film Mix Tape

the vast space and the wealth that implies, as well as the ample room for Washizu and his wife to contemplate their guilt
-Film Actually


The movie builds with precision, early shots foreshadowing what is to come
-I/fpw 

My favorite scene in Macbeth and they do it very well here
-Rachel Wagner

 

The End.

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT WARNING: "NOW a warning?" It's Death Becomes Her (1992), rereleased in a collectors edition. Please join us for what will surely be a fun group of screengrabs

Monday
Apr042016

April Showers: Kurosawa's Dreams

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at memorably soaked moments in the movies. Here's Lynn Lee on Dreams (1990).


The sun is shining, but it’s raining.  Foxes hold their wedding processions in this weather.

But they don’t like anyone to see them – if they catch you watching, they’ll be very angry!

Dreams (1990) may be the most personal of Kurosawa’s films, and has always struck me as one of his most underrated.  It’s uneven, yes, but at its best it really does capture the vivid yet elusive, disorienting nature of a recurring dream that always seems to slip just out of your grasp – the kind of dream that can turn on a hair from a beautiful vision to a nightmare and back again...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb202016

Interview: Joshua Oppenheimer and Adi on The Look of Silence

Amir here. I first fell in love with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence in September 2014, at TIFF. It was the last, and best, film I watched at that festival, and it left an emotional mark that I lived with for days. I caught up with the film again when it was released for the public and my conviction that this was one of the best documentary features of all time was reaffirmed – in my book, one of 2015’s holy trinity of films. So, you can understand my excitement when I finally had the chance to speak with director Joshua Oppenheimer, and Adi, the subject of his film.

The Look of Silence, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary, a companion piece to the director’s earlier film The Act of Killing (also nominated in its year), is about the victims of the Indonesian genocide, who live side by side with the men who perpetrated those crimes against their loved ones. In his graceful and compassionate study of these people and their haunted spaces, Oppenheimer finds the language to bring invisible pains to the screen and push the limits of documentary form.

We talk about the relationship between his two films, his experiences in Indonesia, influences on his filmmaking, where documentary cinema stands today, and Adi’s life after the film’s release.

AMIR SOLTANI: I know you’re probably tired of comparisons between your two latest films, but I feel like there’s nowhere else to start but The Act of Killing. There’s a theatrical element to the first film that The Look of Silence, despite being polished, stylized and even often staged, doesn’t have. It’s more formally understated. What initiated your formal approach to the second film?  

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: I think these two films are both rigorously about the present, or rather, the past’s role in the present. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan052016

Podcast: The Big Short, It Follows, Etc...

We're just going overboard with the podcasts this month. We hope you don't mind. Here's a little extra conversation between Nathaniel and Nick. (With another podcast right around the corner!) 

40 minutes 
00:01 The Big Short, celebrity cameos, gambling and our own failings
16:40 Nick looks forward to The Revenant & talking about The Hateful Eight
19:45 Foreign Film Finalist List: Ireland's Viva, Denmark's A War, Hungary's Son of Saul.
27:45 Films that didn't make it to the finals like Guatamela's Ixcanul,  and LGBT entries
33:20 How to watch challenging cinema at home on your televisions. Starring: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch and It Follows 

Further Reading for Context:
Nick's Hateful Eight Tweet
Nathaniel's recent Oscar submission reviews
Plus Embrace of Serpent and Labyrinth of Lies

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Big Short & Foreign Finals

Sunday
Nov292015

Fenix & Golden Horse Prizes

Two sets of international film awards were recently handed out and in the holiday flurry we haven't yet shared them, but since three Oscar submissions dominated, better late than never!

Alfred Castro in "El Club"

Fenix Awards
The Fenix awards are a Mexican based initiative to honor films and industry professionals of Latin America, Spain and Portugal.m They're only in their second year so it's too new to know if they'll make an impact but this year they gave Pablo Larraín's  El Club (Chile's tramautizing Oscar submission) Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor prizes. Alfredo Castro was the acting recipient of the latter (it's a large cast of mostly men and fans of Larraín will know him well since he previously starred in Larraín's other Oscar submissions Tony Manero and No). Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia's mesmerizing Oscar submission for which we're heartily rooting) took Sound, Cinematography, and Music along with Best Director (in a tie)

Golden Horse Awards
The Assassin, which has been marginally successful without quite catching on with audiences, is on a roll with prizes and honors. This past week it dominated the Golden Horse Awards winning six prizes with Picture, Cinematography, Makeup and Costume Design (which are grouped for some reason), Sound Effects and a special filmmaking prize for Hsiao-hsien Hou even though they also gave him Best Director! So that didn't leave much for its chief rivals Mountains May Depart, Port of Call, Tharlo, and Drunk Thanatos but they each were honored in one way or another. Hou's semi-abstract take on the wuxia genre also topped the Sight & Sound Best of 2015 poll.

Which is a long way of saying that this one, which is pretty but alienating, might prove hard for the Academy's Executive Committee to ignore when it comes to their "three saves" for the 9 wide finalist list from which the 5 Best Foreign Language Film nominees will be chosen.

Related: Foreign Film Oscar Charts