Monday, April 24, 2006

Notes on some Asian films

Still keep on watching movies...

Korean Movies :
Mist (Angae) by Kim Soo-yong, 1967
Compared as an Antonioni or Renais, the film delivered surely a breeze of new wave and modernity.
Jun Kijun returns to his native village before starting to work in the company of his father-in-law. He finds a friend who dreams to become singer of opera in Seoul. The story is only purpose. It's film about errance, memories (flash backs are inserted as memories). I liked the atmosphere of the film, nostalgic, calm and melancholy, very nicely shot in black and white.

Road to Sampo (Sampoganeun Kil) by Lee Man-hee 1975
The director of this movie died before finishing it (during the editing and the movie got re-edited due to censorship). This is a complete different mood than the one above, a bit all over the place, a sort of road movie using different genres from tearful drama, romance to almost burlesque, the acting being often exaggerated. The main leading actor reminded me of Choi Min-sik (Failan, Old Boy, Drunk on Women and Poetry and so on). The main actress had a very nice face, there are a lot of nice close-ups on her face.

Recent ones :
My Generation (Noh Dong-seok, 2004). First Film.
Shot in DV in black and white, this film has the merit to give a change to the recent Korean production and another look to the independent Korean scene. It offers a different view, more realistic and quite minimalist of the urban life in Korea. No stars, no special effects, gunfights and chases, the film follows two young people covered by debts and money problems, bored and depressed (especially the girl). The film has however surely some flaws, and is quite awkward in its story and narrative structure, but in somehow gives a breath of fresh air the Korean film industry.
Last Witness (Bae Chang-ho, 2001) - a thriller/drama which involves the Korean past history, long flashbacks, the pace started well than slowed down - mixed.
R-Point (Kong Su-chang, 2004) - war/horror, ghost story in the Vietnam war, well acted, quite good suspens.
Shadowless Sword (Kim Young-jun, 2005) - a sort of martial arts/swordsplay movie that fails.

HK/Chinese movies :
some Chen Kaige films
Yellow Earth is considered as landmark in Chinese history of cinema, the film that launched what we called "the 5th Generation". Directed in 1984 by Chen Kaige and shot by Zhang Yimou, the film is set in 1939, during the sino-japanese war.
Guo Qing, a young soldier of the Eigth Route Army is sent into a border village in North Shanxi Province to collect folk songs that will be adapted afterwards by the Communist Party for nationalistic purposes. He stays at a widowed father who lives alone with his younger son and teen-age daughter.
Yellow Earth offers a sense of framing and of a composition of image : close-ups on the characters giving powerful portraits, large views on the arid and desolate landscape, a restraint range of colours (ochre, brown, red)...The film contains just a few dialogue, but the silence is loaded by the sounds of nature (birds, wind, river..), the folk songs.
Temptress Moon starring Leslie Cheung and Gong Li, was made after Farewell my Concubine a couple of years later. It's surely not as great as Farewell, not as deep, lyrical and impressive. The set, the acting are very well done though.
The Promise, the last Chen Kaige movie, shouldn't be watched as like his other films, just pure commercial entertainment, and even then it was quite ridiculous sometimes.

I watched the 4 movies of the Monkey King - Journey to the West, made in the 60s. Will try to write something about them.

Recent ones :
Fearless (Ronny Yu, 2006) Jet Li film, it's nice to see Jet Li in a HK film again, however the film is different from the 90s HK production, not just with the effects (the slow motion kind fr instance), but even the atmosphere, and the absence of any humour. Last sequence is great though.
49 Days (Lam Kin-lun, 2006) - with Stephen Fung & Gillian Chung supernatural/ghost/thriller, not great.
Two Become One (Law Wing-Cheong, 2006) a Johnnie To production, romantic comedy dealing with breast cancer. with Miriam Yeung and Ritchie Ren. Watchable thanks to Miriam Yeung.



Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Good to see you back and bloggin, Marina! Yellow Earth is a beautiful film, I agree - I don't remember much about it, but the diagonal framing of the landscape against the sky is an image that I always associate with the film, along with the brownish hues. Haven't seen much from his latter period since it's never really looked appealing to me, though I do like parts of Farewell, My Concubine.

April 26, 2006 3:01 pm  

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