Friday, August 25, 2006

Toronto International Film Festival Line-up

Toronto International Film Festival Line-up
7.09-16.09 2006

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival.
352 Films From 61 Countries.
A few Asian films already scheduled in Venice.


Rain Dogs (Taiyang Yu) by Ho Yuhang (Malaysia, Hong Kong) see site
Summer Palace by Lou Ye (China) see site (fr)
The Bet Collector (Kubrador) by Jeffrey Jeturian (Philippines) imdb link
A Few Days Later... by Niki Karimi (Iran) link
Hula Girls by Lee Sang-il (Japan) link
Mainline by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Mohsen Abdolvahab (Iran)
Offside by Jafar Panahi (Iran) imdb link
Times and Winds by Reha Erdem (Turkey)
To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die by Djamshed Usmonov imdb link (Tajikistan/Russia/France/Germany/Switzerland)
Twilight Dancers by Mel Chionglo (Philippines)

Bliss (Fu Sheng) by Sheng Zhimin (China) imdb link
Family Ties by Kim Tae-Yong (South Korea) imdb link
King and the Clown by Lee Jun-ik (South Korea) imdb link

The Banquet (Ye yan) by Feng Xiaogang (China/HK) imdb link
Never Say Goodbye (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) by Karan Johar (India) imdb link

The Host (Gwoemul) by Bong Joon-ho (South Korea) imdb link

Half Moon by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran) official website
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei yanquan) by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan, France, Austria - 115’) link
Opera Jawa (Opera Jawa) by Garin Nugroho (Indonesia/Austria ) link
Syndromes and a Century (Sang sattawat) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand, France) link

A Cry in the Dark (AFSPA, 1958) by Haobam Paban Kumar (India) imdb link
Dong by Jia Zhangke (China)
Iran: Une Révolution cinématographique by Nader Takmil Homayoun (France/Iran)
Yokohama Mary by Takayuki Nakamura (Japan) imdb link

Exiled (Fong juk) by Johnnie To (HK)
HANA (Hana yori mo naho ) by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)
The Namesake by Mira Nair (India/USA)
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo) by Ann Hui (HK)
Woman on the Beach (Haebyonui yoin) by Hong Sang-soo (South Korea)

Election by Johnnie To (HK) imdb link
Election 2 by Johnnie To (HK) imdb link

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (46-okunen no koi) by Takashi Miike (Japan) imdb link
The Bugmaster by Katsuhiro Otomo (Japan)
Climates (Iklimler) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey / France )
In Between Days by Kim So Yong (USA) imdb link
Invisible Waves by Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Thailand/Netherlands/Hong Kong/Korea) link
Time by Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)

Ema · Emaki II by Takashi Ishida (Canada/Japan)
Tsuioku by Yuiko Matsuyama (Japan)


Sogo Ishii films and other films

A couple Sogo Ishii films.
Considered as one of the most known Japanese outsider filmmakers, Sogo Ishii's films are based on the visuals work (colours, aesthetic cinematography, effects, camera movements) and soundtracks (with importance of music too). Actors, Masatoshi Nagase and Tadanobu Asano are often his collaborators.
Recently seen :
Gojoe (2000) : with Masatoshi Nagase, disappointing film.
Dead End Run (2003) : a 50 minute film containing 3 shorts (Last Song, Shadow, Fly), each one starting with a runaway character, a dead-end, a meeting and a death or eventual death. Visually and technically very well done, however the shorts don't bring anything new.

Already seen:
Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001) - probably his most famous
Labyrinth of Dreams (1997) - and still my favourite.
Angel Dust (1994)

Other movies seen :
Young Thugs: Nostalgia by Takashi Miike (Japan, 1998) a prequel of Young Thugs: Innocent Blood which I haven't seen, about kids (great in the film) in Osaka in the 70s. We can easily feel the nostalgia (the childhood times) mixed with a cartoon/manga style (for the burlesque aspect of some of the scenes).
Postmen in the Mountains by Huo Jianqi (China, 1999) even though still rather typical mainland Chinese film, and a bit too sentimentalist, the father-son relationship is well played, and I like Liu Ye. Set in the mountain of Hunan, the film also offers some nice landscapes.
Sky Lovers by Jiang Qinmin (China, 2002) only for Liu Ye, despite the fact that his character is a bit annoying.
Be with Me by Eric Khoo (Singapore, 2005). The film intermingles 3 stories about love, but also loneliness, quite inequal, the more touching and interesting one is surely Theresa Chan's story. Some great, beautiful portraits.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Invisible Waves

Invisible Waves (Pen-ek Ratanaruang), 2006, Thailand with Tadanobu Asano, Kang Hye-jeong (recently seen in Welcome to Dongmakgol), Ken Mitsuishi, Eric Tsang...

This pan-Asian film by Pen-ek Ratanaruang brings again some of previous collaborators of Last Life in the Universe such as prolific and talented Japanese actor, Tadanobu Asano and acclaimed cinematographer, Christopher Doyle.
Invisible Waves is an atmospheric thriller, a film noir (the range of colours of the film goes from blue to grey) with a soft touch à la David Lynch. Kyoji (Tadanobu Asano) becomes a murderer when his boss asked him to kill his wife and will promise him freedom by paying him his travel to go to Thailand where a man, Lizard, will take care of him. On the cruise, he meets Noi, a mysterious young lady who travels with her baby. (note that Noi and Lizard were also names used in Last Life in the Universe).
But as Kyoji said it seemed that the sea is judging him, the cruise is rather dreamy or more nightmarish, with mysterious things and encounters that happen to him, the cruise appears to be like a labyrinth of subconsciousness loaded by guilt or self-punishment, in search of redemption.
The film itself displays a constant, quiet travel (it is set in 3 different locations, Macau, Hong Kong and Phuket, 4 locations if we include the sea) giving a smooth, lingering pace enhanced by the soft movements of the camera.
However, even though the film has outstanding cinematography, irreproachable performances, classic, yet, well-done, narrative structure, Invisible Waves is mainly built on the character of
Tadanobu Asano, perfect here, an impassive, languid man who is overtaken by the waves of his destiny and the events imposed to him.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Hong Kong's 11th Golden Bauhinia Awards

The award ceremony of Hong Kong's 11th Golden Bauhinia Awards (HK Film Critics Association) was held on August, the 13th.

Best film: Election
Other nominees: Crazy N' the City, Perhaps Love, Isabella, Initial D

Best director: Peter CHAN - Perhaps Love
Other nominees: PANG Ho-Cheung (Isabella), Benny CHAN (Divergence), Johnnie TO (Election), James YUEN (Crazy N' the City)

Best actor: Simon YAM (Election)
Other Nominees : Chapman To (Isabella), Eason CHAN (Crazy N' the City), LEUNG Ka-Fai (Everlasting Regret), Andy LAU (Wait 'Til You're Older)

Best actress: ZHOU Xun (Perhaps Love)
Other nominees: Karena LAM (Home Sweet Home), Cecilia CHEUNG (The Promise), Angelica LEE (Re-Cycle), Isabella LEONG (Isabella)

Best supporting actor: Anthony WONG (Initial D)
Other nominees: Chapman TO (Moonlight in Tokyo), LAM Ka-Tung (Election), LAU Siu-Ming (Re-Cycle), Nick CHEUNG (Election 2)

Best supporting actress: Teresa MO (2 Young)
Other nominees: Paula TSUI (Shopaholics), ZHANG Jingchu (Seven Swords), Kara HUI (Crazy N' the City), Maggie SIU (Election)

Best new actor / actress: Isabella LEONG (Isabella)
Other nominees: Fiona SIT (2 Young), TSANG Nga-Ji (Re-Cycle), PAN Yue-Tong (Election 2), Jay CHOU (Initial D)

Best screenwriter(s): YAU Nai-Hoi and YIP Tin-Shing (Election) / James YUEN, and Jessica FONGLO Yiu-Fai (Crazy N' the City)
Other nominees: YAU Nai-Hoi and YIP Tin-Shing (Election 2), Ivy HO (Divergence), CHEUNG Chi-Kwong and Susan CHAN (Wait 'Til You're Older)

Best cinematography: Peter PAU (Perhaps Love)

Best art direction: YEE Chung-Man and Pater WONG (Perhaps Love)

Best film editing: WONG Hoi (Initial D)

Best original film music: Peter KAM and Leon KO (Perhaps Love)

Best original film song: Peter KAM (Perhaps Love)

Best sound design: Kinson TSANG (Initial D)

Best idea for a film: Re-Cycle

Outstanding achievement award: YU Mo-Wan (film historian)

By online voters:

Most popular film: Perhaps Love
Most popular actor: Andy LAU
Most popular actress: Angelica LEE

Perhaps Love got most of the love (it's not surprising it got best art direction, best film score - even if I thought it was hard for my ears), but Isabella and Election 2 were better and more interesting I thought. And Chapman To deserved the Best Actor award for Isabella. Some of the nominated films are quite old (from last year or so, such as Election, 2 Young, Initial D...), this makes sometimes the category quite strange (such as having Election 1 et 2 together selected in one category).


Saturday, August 12, 2006

59th Locarno Film Festival - The Results

59th Locarno International Film Festival - The Results....

International Competition
The official jury : Ann Hui, Edo Bertoglio, Antonio Capuano, Peter Rommel, Nobuhiro Suwa
Golden Leopard : Das Fräulein by Andreas Staka (Switzerland/Germany)
Special Jury Prize : Half Nelson by Ryan Fleck (USA)
Prize for best directing : Laurent Achard - Le Dernier des Fous (France/Switzerland)
Leopard for Best Actor : Burghart Klaussner for the film Der Mann von der Botschaft by Dito Tsintsadze (Germany)
Special Mention to Body Rice by Hugo Vieira da Silva (Portugal)
"for its challenging new cinematic expression and courageous creativity"

Filmmakers of the Present Competition
Verfolgt by Angelina Maccarone (Germany)
Special Jury Prize Cinecinema Auteur Filmmakers of the Present Competition : Chand Kilo Khorma Baraye Marassem-E Tadfin by Saman Salour (Iran)
"For bringing a profound contemporary language into Iranian cinema, blended with a strong vision of the past."
Special Jury Mention to : Tarachime by Naomi Kawase (Japan)
"For allowing us to dive into the deep and universal world of emotions"

Netpac Award (for the promotion of Asian cinema) :
Don't look back (Nae-Chungchum-Aegue-Goham) by Kim Young-Nam (South Korea)
"For the portrayal of the life of the Korean youth in a subtle and subdued way."
Bliss (Fu Sheng) by Sheng Zhimin (China)
For bravely showing the reality of the present condition of a Chinese family.

Don't look back (Nae-Chungchum-Aegue-Goham) by Kim Young-Nam (South Korea)
"For a first film made with maturity and modern cinematic language. A sincere and true film with subject matter that could affect everyone."

and many other prizes (Leopard of Best First Film, New Swiss Talent, Leopards of Tomorrow, Ecumenical Jury..... )
Locarno Website


notes on Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and other Asian films

a bit late with all my viewing entries, so it will be very brief (started to be so long ago now that it's even hard to remember...).

Thailand :
Fun Bar Karaoke (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 1997), Pen-Ek Ratanaruang' s debut feature film, and even though it had a potential to be a rather good movie with some original ideas (the opening sequence is very well done) and different characters, it could have been a bit more careful, especially with that constant appeareace of the mic on screen!
6ixtynin9 (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 1999), visually and technically better achieved, this black comedy/thriller reminded me somehow of Shallow Grave or the Korean film, The Quiet Family. In a way, I thought Fun Bar Karaoke was a bit more interesting.
Monrak Transistor (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2001) follows the fate of a young, rural man, very stylish with several musical scenes and a reference to Tears of the Black Tiger, beautiful cinematography and very good performances from the all the cast, especially the leading actor.
However Last Life in the Universe remains his best work and display all his talent as a director.

HK :
Beyond Hypothermia (Patrick Leung, 1996), a Milkway Image production (Johnnie To) with Lau Ching Wan and Wu Chien-Lien. A kind of female version of John Woo's movies dealin with a Cambodian hitwoman who's new job is to assassinate a Korean mafia top boss.
It didn't bring anything new, the girl was nice and had a certain kind of presence, Lau Ching Wan wasn't too bad, but he has been much better in other films and the mean character who played the Korean hitman was just a waste.

Deadful Melody (Ng Min Kun, 1993) mainly worth watching for Brigitte Lin and Carina Lau (also starring Yuen Biao). Flying fights all over the place. In the same kind of vein as The Magic Crane (also involving a lyre).

China :
Blush (Li Shaohong, 1994), in the current of the 5th generation of directors (historical epic like), with a story intermingled with the Chinese history, here in a more female point of view. A bit too melodrama though, but well acted and nice set.

South Korea :
The Showdown (Kim Jin-sung, 2005), a modern martial arts film without effects, a bit more realistic, but too conventional and predictible.
A Bloody Tie (Choi Ho, 2006) starring Ryu Seung Beom, Hwang Jung Min. A good film noir. Somehow funny, surely well done and quite entertaining. Certainly be a hit.


Monday, August 07, 2006

New site

A new site.

I finally decided to put on line a website dedicated to only Chinese cinema, for now just Mainland Chinese films. It will be updated every now and then. I will keep of course Chungking Express for quick entries, news related to Asian cinema.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

63th Venice Film Festival - line-up

63th Venice International Film Festival (30.08-09.09)

Venice Fest.

It seems to be a rather good selection of Asian movies in Venice - especially if we compared to the Cannes selection of this year. Some very teasing new films by great directors, such as I Don't Want to Sleep Alone by Tsai Ming-liang, Syndromes and a Century by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Exiled by Johnnie To. Also several Japanese films are noticeable, Sakebi by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Koorogi by Shinji Aoyama including several in the animation genre (with the awaited Gedo senki by Hayao Myazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki). In the documentary section, Jia Zhangke's Dong is surely expected.

Asian movies selected :

In Competition

- KON Satoshi "Paprika" Japan - 90’ anime
- ÔTOMO Katsuhiro "Mushi-shi" Japan - 131’
Joe Odagiri, Makiko Esumi, Nao Omori
- Johnnie TO "Fangzhu" [Exiled] Hong Kong, China - 98’
Francis Ng, Nick Cheung, Simon Yam, Anthony Wong
- TSAI Ming-Liang "Hei yanquan" [I Don't Want to Sleep Alone] Taiwan, France, Austria - 115’
Kang-Sheng Lee, Shiang-Chyi Chen, Atun Norman
see more info here
- Apichatpong WEERASETHAKUL "Sang sattawat" [Syndromes and a Century] Thailand, France - 105’
Nantarat Sawaddikul, Jaruchai Iamaram, Sophon Pukanok, Jenjira Pongpas
see more info here

Out of Competition

- Bayram FAZLI "Baaz ham sib daari ? "- Iran
- FENG Xiaogang "Yeyan" [Night Banquet] China - 131’
Daniel Wu, Zhang Ziyi, Ge You
- MIYAZAKI Goro "Gedo senki" Japan - 115’
- CHAN Benny "Rob-B-Hood" Hong Kong, China - 134’
Jackie Chan, Louis Koo, Michael Hui
- KUROSAWA Kiyoshi "Sakebi" Japan - 96’
Kôji Yakusho, Manami Konishi, Hiroyuki Hirayama, Joe Odagiri
- RYOO Seung-wan "Jakpae" South Korea - 92’
Ahn Jae-mo, Ahn Kil-Kang, Jeong Seok-yong, Jo Deok-hyeon


- AOYAMA Shinji "Koorogi" Japan - 102’
Suzuki Kyoka, Yamazaki Tsutomu
- HO Yuhang "Taiyang yu" [Rain Dog] Malaysia, Hong Kong - 102’
Kuan Choon Wai, Liu Wai Hung, Yasmin Ahmad, Cheung Wing Hong
- LIU Jie "Mabei shang de fating" China - 105’
Li Baotian, Ning Yangya, Lai Luyu, Liang Liting
- Garin NUGROHO "Opera Jawa" Indonesia - 120’
Martínus Míroto, Eko Supríyato, Retno Marutí, Nyoman Sura

Horizons Doc

- JIA Zhangke Dong China - 63’ documentary
- OSHII Mamoru Tachiguishi retsuden Japan - 104’
Kisshoji Kaito, Hyodo Mako, Suzuki Toshio