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Discussion in 'Cinema: Asia' started by sitenoise, May 1, 2017.
Why can't I go further with 5 Centimeters Per Second (Makoto Shinkai)... zzzzzzzzzzz
Rage (aka Anger) (2016) (Japanese Drama/Thriller) – A man brutally murders a married couple and leaves behind the words "Ikari" ("Anger") written with their blood. The killer then undergoes plastic surgery and flees. We are then introduced to 3 different stories involving different characters at different locations in Japan. Each of these stories involves a male stranger who is new in town. One of these men is the killer, but who is it? The cast here is star studded: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Aoi Miyazaki, Suzu Hirose, Ken Watanabe, Kenichi Matsuyama, Gou Ayano, etc. There is a lot of suspense in this movie. And that suspense is generated from feeling anxious and worried for all of the characters. Even more interestingly, there’s flip side to that coin because you will begin to care for the three male suspects, one of which is of course a killer. There’s a lot of multi-dimensionality to the characters in this movie. There’s also some hard-hitting social commentary and themes that are presented. Not a particularly violent movie at all, but a few scenes are quite disturbing. A few critics think that the characters show too much emotion for too long during the finale, but I felt that the film earned those moments.
Casshern (2004) (Japanese Sci-Fi Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) – Set in the late 21st century, a superhuman warrior attempts to stop a pseudo-human clan from destroying all of humanity. The entire movie is one gigantic CGI fest from beginning to end. Fortunately, the environmental designs are spectacular – so much so, in fact, that virtually every single shot of the movie has something to gawk at, regardless of whether or not it’s photo realistic. The action scenes are a mixed bag, in many cases having way too many quick cuts and edits to see clearly what is happening, but there are some great scenes in those instances where the camera slows down. The soundtrack is also hit-and-miss, in some cases being overdramatic. This is a creative and ambitious film, with an ending that is more impactful than expected. Kumiko Aso is a real looker too.
The Curse of Kazuo Umezu (1990) (Japanese Anime Horror Short) – Two separate stories that are 43 minutes in length (total). In “What Will the Video Camera Reveal”, a transfer student arrives from Mexico, causing great agitation into the life of a classmate named Masami. Masami begins having vicious nightmares and the festering flesh wound on her neck keeps getting worse. In “The Haunted Mansion”, four girls adventure into a sinister house in their neighborhood. Animation is on the cheap side, but there is some very cool horror imagery to enjoy. Surprisingly bloody and graphic. Rather creepy too.
Little Big Soldier (2010) (Chinese Action/Drama/Comedy) – Set in ancient China, a grizzled veteran (Jackie Chan) kidnaps a young enemy general, then escorts him on a journey to collect a reward. This is a grounded, entertaining genre-bender with brisk pacing. The action is simplistic and scrappy, but works given this film’s structure. Scoring is unique. This has a certain charm to it.
Goemon (2009) (Japanese Fantasy Action/Drama) (repeat viewing) – Set in 1582, a shinobi-turned-thief (Yosuke Eguchi) seeks revenge after a royal coup d’etat. Like this director’s previous effort (“Casshern”), the visuals are creative with lots of eye candy in the form of environmental special effects, beautiful set designs, and exquisite costumes. The storyline is more familiar this time around, but effectively uses a deliberately paced middle section to build anticipation for the finale. The CGI-based action scenes are entertaining despite an overuse of editing (the gatling gun staircase sequence is especially cool) and the characters are likable. This is more cartoonish than “Casshern”, and the SFX are a bit more distracting, but it’s still a fun feast for the senses.
Destruction Babies (2016) (Japanese Drama/Thriller) – At some point beating and ravaging others becomes a routine pastime when two kids go on a rampage with their fists as weapons. Critics seem to love this movie. I think it’s monotonous and completely lacking in any significant content. The theme of the movie is “life in Japan is so frustrating, so let’s beat people up!” Unfortunately, it comes off as undeveloped and uninteresting. It’s also not nearly as graphically violent as some have claimed. Performances and direction are good, but this is a supremely overrated flick.
Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (2017) (Chinese Fantasy Comedy/Action) – A monk and his three disciples continue on their journey to battle demons. The opening 10 minutes are stupid, relying on low-grade, silly humor and atrocious dialogue. Way too much screaming, slapstick comedy, and terrible special effects make this immediately obnoxious and very difficult to sit thru because this pathetic style is relentlessly from start to finish. There’s no plot, since the characters just goof around the whole time. All of the action looks like poorly constructed CGI vomit that was spewed onto the screen. The acting is also garbage, with perhaps the most boring depiction of the Monkey King in recent years. This is one of the worst films in Tsui Hark’s directorial filmography.
Rage (aka Anger) (2016) sounds really good!
Did you see my review for A Chinese Tall Story? Sounds like two (rotten) peas of the same pod LOL.
For my contribution, last night I watched The Life of Oharu (1952). Young lady causes her and her family to be exiled from their moderately high ranking position in the Shogunate court due to her dalliance with a lower ranking samurai retainer. The movie depicts the next 20 years or so as she tracks a downwardly mobile path (from esteemed concubine, to working in a brothel, to common streetwalker). In between stations she ends up back home, much to the chagrin of her status-seeking father who can't forgive her for ruining the family's chances. Fantastic acting all around. Toshiro Mifune has a small but powerful role (about 10 minutes of screen time) as the low ranking samurai who helped cause all the trouble in the first place. Kinuyo Tanaka is spot on as Oharu. I found the story to be moderately interesting; and the movie runs a bit long. But I'm just such a huge fan of these mid-century Japanese period dramas. 3.5 stars.
Yes, waiting on Rage (aka Anger) muchly. I've also been interested in the hype over Destruction Babies, but I trust ebo's opinion on this one and will adjust expectations accordingly.
...ing (South Korea, 2003)
I watched this because it has 3 dots on its title. I never knew I was in for a sad story.
I think I've seen this before but I have forgotten about the plot.
I like the simplicity of the movie yet it leaves a heavy weight on your feelings. Lim Soo-jung just shines in her fragile girl aura. And Kim Rae-won was so perfect in his psycho-boy-next-door-who-blows-donut-air-kisses
The story is about Kang Min-ah and her life. There are only three central characters, thus, the simplicity, but I think its a power cast already that they're enough to make this good movie. The sad songs being used here add to the sad atmosphere that the movie creates. We are taken to a wonderful mother-daughter relationship and how our lead girl experiences young love with the opposite sex. Our emotions are then taken to a low when we find out that Kang Min-ah isn't only as fragile as she looks, she is sick. And then the tears start pouring.
Personally, I did get sad and cried a bit during the final scenes. But there are two scenes which really caught me off guard: 1) The crying in the rain scene with the traffic man. I was caught off guard because I've totally forgotten about him and here he goes in the most touching concealing-of-sadness way, crying in the rain!
That scene alone made the movie top-notch. 2) The scene where Kang Min-ah and Lee Young-Jae walk in the rain. At first, they were walking apart. And then the girl closes her umbrella to join the guy. And then she places her hands on his shoulder. And then he does the same. And that was shot with their backs on the camera. That was a very cute scene!!! Makes me want to go back to those days when life's responsibilities and challenges aren't as big as they are now.
Overall, I think I'll add this to my top whatever list. A very very strong movie about unconditional love and true happiness.
I also liked ...ing very much. I rated it 4 stars and found it quite moving. I should watch it again soon.
This is one of a very very few movies that I actually seeked out the soundtrack for.
I think South Koreans are good at making their soundtracks fit the scenes. Its amusing that whenever I watch their drama series, the songs they use really registers in my mind that even if I don't understand the lyrics, I can associate it with the mood of the scene or the entire movie/series. And we can sing it, hum the tune of it so easily even if we don't understand the meaning of it.
Is it just me or Lim Soo-jung looks like Kris Aquino when she was younger and without make-up on. No?
Can't find any pic of that except this one (but she has make-up here):
I'm going to have to be honest and say that I never would have picked it ... although if I pull up the results of google image searches and compare them side by side, I can now see some similarities in facial structure.
Speaking of Lim Soo-jung, I finally caught up with All About My Wife and loved it - your comment about it being like a mirror is so true. For the first hour, I kept getting questioned "Is that like me?", "Does that remind you of me?", "Am I like that?". Some questions have a right and a wrong answer.
Badass. The best Wolverine moment in any X-Men before was the cage scene in the original film, it scared me a lot as a kid, but now I could feel that and much more. I did not expect this film to be this violent, it was really cool. Best marvel film since spiderman 2.
Death Note: The Last Name (2006)
Okay sequel with many good moments, but I didn't like how they changed the ending from the manga/anime. It didn't have any impact.
Death Note: L Change the World (2008)
Death Note: Light Up the New World (2016)
It creates its own identity while keeping the link to the original films. It is well directed and the atmosphere felt right, but the ending twist is meh.
Ada Apa dengan Cinta? (2002)
High school romance, probably the best in the genre from Indonesia. It has all the ingredients that makes it a cult classic.
This was really cool. Much better than the director's previous films. James McAvoy's performance was amazing, his character was so scary. It's a scary film but there's also a very sad side in it. A few scenes were boring but they were essential to develop the character and the messages of the film. Great ending.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
I fell asleep multiple times despite it having so much action. And it tries too hard to be cool. It's just nonsense.
I've been curious to see this for quite a while. Ladya Cheryl was cool in Postcards From The Zoo.
The Great Wall (2016)
While the action sequences are very entertaining and impressive (both visuals and camera work) with very fun strategies to fight the monsters, the characters are very under developed, there isn't much to say about them. We know that Matt Damon is looking for black powder who later becomes a hero to fight the monsters and that's it.
It keeps that inspiring feeling from the anime/manga and overall it's a good live-action adaptation from the original work. Love the story, I hope it gets a sequel soon.
Three good ones from 2005 ...
The President’s Last Bang (Im Sang-soo, 2005) is a slick depiction of the 1979 assassination of South Korean president Park Chung-hee (father of the recently impeached former president) by the head of his intelligence agency, Kim Jae-kyu. The depiction of South Korea in the late 1970’s is eerily like the current portrayal of its Northern neighbour – ruled by a brutal dictator who tries to elevate himself to demigod status in the eyes of his downtrodden people through pompous displays of military might, deeply suspicious of the outside world while being infatuated by a foreign culture (in this case, Japanese), fearful of the US threat to its right of self-determination, and desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons against the will of the international community. But beyond the broad portrayal of the broad society, the film doesn’t try to delve much into the specifics of the politics leading up to the assassination – apparently, there’s been much conjecture as to exactly why Kim killed park, and the film plays up to that ambiguity.
Who’s Camus, Anyway (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 2005) is set on a performing arts campus, and focuses on a group of students preparing for the shooting of a film in a week’s time. The opening scene introduces the main characters with an extended single take shot that tracks across the campus following snippets of various conversations – when it picks up with two characters naming a bunch of films that open with extended single take tracking shots, you know that you’re in for something self referential. For the most part, the film’s focus on the friendships and loves of the main cast is pure soap opera, although I don’t mean that in a negative way, before building to an outrageous and surreal climax.
Peacock (Gu Changwei, 2005) is set in an emerging post-Cultural Revolution industrial city around the 1970’s, and deals with life’s expectations and disappointments through the stories of three siblings. The film is epic in scope but at same time almost understated, and it’s quite an achievement to be able to elicit empathy from the audience for characters that can be so unlikeable, with behaviour that ranges from the petty to reprehensible. If there are any who haven’t already seen it, this is a must for fans of Zhang Jingchu, who is given the majority of screen time (although I wonder if the apocryphal 244 minute version devoted equal time to each child).
I have a 221 minute version. It's been a while since I watched it (and loved the heck out of it), but my recollection is it was sort of divided into three sections, one for each of the kids. I do remember a lot of time spent with the big older bro. Great flick, and mucho love for Zhang Jingchu. She made a handful of great flicks around that time (The Road, Red River, Night and Fog). She is really great when she is the star. Too bad she seems to have faded away, a little.
I've had your other two films in queue forever. Is the Camus of the title a reference to Albert? He was influential in my college days. "Mother died today. Or was it yesterday?"
I haven't given up on M Night yet, but I haven't seen anything by him since The Happening. McAvoy is sort of a turn off for me. I don't know why. Your chosen gif up there didn't help much. lol But this does seem to be getting mostly positive reactions.
My googling found oblique references to a longer version, sometimes with the caveat "citation needed", but nothing concrete. I would like to see the fuller picture - in the 144 minute film I saw, the first half was devoted to the sister, with the remainder shared between the two brothers. It kind of seemed natural that there was less focus on the younger introverted brother, particularly with the way that he was revealed to be the narrator late in the piece, but I would have liked to spend more time with the older brother, who I saw as having the most interesting character arc.
It did occur to me that her "serious movie" career seems to begun with Peacock in 2005 and ended in 2010 with Aftershock, and amused me slightly to think that both those films end up with her sobbing over a bowl of tomatoes. I think there's something in that for all of us.
That's correct - one of the characters is given a copy of The Stranger to read. I've never read Camus and only have the vaguest idea of who or what he was ... I suspect that with more knowledge, the film would have had much greater meaning and texture. Your quote could have been lifted from the script.
Kagemusha (1980). One of Kurosawa's last films, it seems to have gotten a less-than-stellar rep among Kurosawa fans as being dense and opaque. Perhaps that's because the film does come across dense and opaque--at least to non-Japanese audiences. I must admit that it was hard to keep up with which warlord was allying with which warlord this time, as opposed to who was allied with whom the time before. Why this general was attacking that castle when the other general over there was sieging this other castle. Stuff like that.
And previous audiences might have only seen the "international cut" which was about 20 minutes shorter than the Japanese release, cutting many of the transitional scenes that helped tie everything together.
Bu I really liked it anyway. A second viewing, with the commentary, was extremely illuminating. The person doing the commentary went out of his way to explain all the historical background for each scene (the movie is based on true events), and pretty much for every scene, not only explained what was going on (and WHY), but also how well it comported with actual historical events and where Kurosawa was taking creative liberties. This commentary really helped the film to come alive and I liked it even more the second go round. 4 stars.
A Petal (1996) (Korean Drama) – This controversial film is about the horrific Gwangju Massacre in 1980, where government enforcers killed large crowds of civilian protestors. After seeing her mother murdered at this event, a young girl loses her mind and wanders the countryside as she interacts with some shady individuals. Meanwhile, a small group of people are searching for her. This is a very difficult film to watch because it is very much a non-stop depiction of misery and suffering. With that said, it is gripping and atmospheric, with fine direction and acting. Some animation is spliced in as well. This is a highly acclaimed and important film that will certainly draw out some emotions from the viewer.
Gomenasai (aka Ring of Curse) (2011) (Japanese Horror) (repeat viewing) – A highschool girl believes that her classmate is murdering people by using written words that coerce death. This film spins the “curse” sub-genre of Japanese horror in different ways. First of all, the structure of the storyline is broken into three “diary” entries which portray the perspectives of the two main characters. There is ample use of narration which develops the characters very nicely (some very interesting monologue and dialogue to be found here). Second, the method of killing straddles the boundary between pure psychological manipulation and supernatural ability, which is very unique for a film of this kind. Third, this has a vicious antagonist who is effectively developed and even relatable. How many times can you really say that? In terms of other positive, there is a tempered creepiness but no onryo ghosts at all. Performances are solid all-around. The ending uses a cliché and turns it on its head by providing a different reason for that particular act. The ending “message” by the actresses is also amusing and ironic. On a side note, the runtime is only 85 minutes and almost all of the scary moments occur during the daytime. Very solid film.
The Outlaw Brothers (1990) (Chinese Action) (repeat viewing) – A car thief and a lady cop team up to fight bad guys. Yukari Oshima is in fine form here, breaking out some hard-hitting strikes. (She’s also kinda cute.) The typical Hong Kong filler material (aka generic plot and characters) is pretty good here, but the real advantage is that there is more action than most of Oshima’s other films. The opening fight in a parking garage is very good, as is the poolside fist fight near the 40-minute mark. The warehouse finale is lengthy and highly entertaining; one of the best of Oshima’s career. A deliciously entertaining actioner.
La La Land (2016) (American Romance/Drama Musical) – While pursuing showbiz fame, jazz pianist Sebastian falls for aspiring actress Mia, and the two embark on an intense love affair. But as their separate paths of ambition force them to make tough choices, their relationship starts to fray. The opening 20 or so minutes of this movie seemed forced and artificial, but things get much better as it progresses. Some of the musical numbers had no purpose whatsoever, almost random, the biggest culprit being the opening sequence – I found it to be stupid, obnoxious, and it didn’t even involve our main characters. But again, this flaw is more or less corrected as the film moves along. Performances and direction are good. The tone does not get as dark as you think it will, but it still has a good dramatic impact.
Gymkata (1985) (American Action) (repeat viewing) – “The combustion becomes an explosion.” A gold medal gymnast is approached by the Special Intelligence Agency to play “The Game”, a deadly competition in the fictional country of Parmistan. This is a “so bad, it’s good” classic from the 80s and it does live up to its reputation for the most part. The lead actor has some semblance of athleticism, but the bad guy henchman are awful! (With the exception of Richard Norton, who is always awesome.) One hilarious aspect, among many, is that various gymnastics-related apparatus are littered randomly throughout the film, just so the protagonist can use his gym skills to take down the bad guys (where the hell did that pommel horse come from?). One sequence takes place in an old stone village with crazy residents that kill anyone who enters; some of these guys are funny-looking. The sound effects are also very loud, especially when someone gets punched or kicked. As one online reviewer observed, “Gymkata stands as an example of what happens when no one offers a dissenting opinion anywhere in the filmmaking process.” To this film’s credit, however, there is a ton of action.
Fusa (1993) (Japanese Drama) – When an amnesiac woman walks into the household of a young samurai no one knows what to make of the mysterious newcomer. However, with her serene beauty and hard working etiquette, the master of the house and the servants soon come to admire the woman. The performances are subpar here, especially with regard to the facial expressions and mannerisms, which creates a very soap opera-ish, lame tone. Simplistic and repetitive.
Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler (2009)
Have a Song on Your Lips (2015)
Yuri Kashiwaga was once known as a genius pianist. One day, she returns to her hometown in Goto Islands from Tokyo. There, she begins to work as a temporary teacher at a middle school and advisor for the school chorus. The chorus aims to take part at a competition. Yuri gives the members of the chorus members an assignment. She instructs them to write a letter with the title of "To myself 15 years later." The 15-year-old boys and girls write about their secrets and worries.
This is a very sentimental film that makes us understand the characters and how the choir club helps them to overcome their troubles in life. I really loved dramatic style of this film. The cinematography is beautiful and the fact that it takes place in a small town makes the whole experience even more intimate, this japanese island is so gorgeous. It's the best slice of life that I've seen in a while. The acting is great, I usually don't like teens in films but the innocense and naivety of these high school teens felt real (it also helps that their singing was great). I watched this film on my laptop in a 3 hour bus travel and even the girl who was sitting next to me watched it with me.