Monday, June 12, 2006

Notes on some Asian films

A bit late at the moment with my postings...
(very short...)

Japanese films

- First I've recently seen in one of the finest theatres in Paris during my short journey over there, Twilight Samurai by Yoji Yamada, 2002 (finally saw it!) which I appreciated especially for the screening itself (great sound, great view, big screen...). I actually liked the simplicity of the film, the pace is rather slow and quiet, the performances are subtle and precised, it even seemed that each movement, each gesture were carefully thought and executed.

- Black Angel, by Takashi Ishii (vol.1, 1997), which was a bit disappointing and all over the place. A dark thriller/action with some beautiful, yet, dangerous women/hitwomen.

- The City of Lost Souls by Takashi Miike (2000). I didn't even know that Michelle Reis played in one of his films. It's a typical Miike film (a violent gangster film), I liked it, mainly because the mix of ethnicities : a Brazilian/Chinese couple as heros, Chinese mafia, Japanese yakusa... Quite of a good fun, and entertaining too, I liked a fast pace & the silliness, it reminded me of a cartoon. I tried to watch Izo, but I didn't get into that much. I even stopped half way through it, it actually tired me.

- Scrap Heaven (2006) by Lee Sang-il, the director who made 69, (with Jo Odagiri and Chiaki Kuriyama). The film left me rather mixed (too teen for me, which was already the case for 69, however 69 was even more teenage film). It reminded me somehow of Fight Club, but in "softer version".

- Moe no suzaku by Naomi Kawase (1997). I think it's my 4th film by this underseen director. There aren't many Japanese woman directors, in fact I think it's the only one I know.
Anyway, I liked it a lot. The film is done in very natural and intimate manner with a documentary approach (Naomi Kawase directs also documentaries), the film mainly explores the same theme than in her other films, the family relationship. She is a very interesting director.

-
Desert Moon (2001) by Shinji Aoyama. I must say that the film is a bit disappointing. This is not like Eureka, I even prefered A Forest with No Name than Desert Moon.
The film lasts a little bit over 2 hours and I found it too long whereas I didn't feel that way for Eureka which lasts over 3 hours!!!
Desert Moon focuses on a family relationship and the family unit in crisis, a theme that is easily well explored in many Japanese films. But the end went quite wrong and too conventional to me and I disagree with it (I won't spoil it). There are some good uses of sound at some parts and like for The Forest with No Name, I found the film a bit in the same vein than those of Kyoshi Kurosawa.

HK films
- Shanghai Grand by Poon Man Kit (1996) with Leslie Cheung & Andy Lau which was ok, I can always watch HK movies even if they're average, this one is gangster film set in the 30s. The film is a Tsui Hark production with a John Woo kind of style.
- Mongkok Story by Wilson Yip (1996), a triad movie, okay, quite funny (a special kind of humour) a bit messy or too long, worth watching for at least Anthony Wong who is great in there.

Korean film
King and the Clown by Lee Jun-ik (2005) which was the best selling film of 2005 nationwide in South Korea. The film, set in the 15th century, was fine & entertaining, well-acted, nice set and costumes, and shares some common matters with Farewell my Concubine but in a more comedy.

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