Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Films this year:

25. Kaoru Ikeya, The Daughter from Yan'an (2002)

Just back from Dalian, China. On the previous day of my departure from Tokyo I watched on DVD this extraordinary documentary. A daughter born of a premarital relationship between two teenage city students "released below" to the rural area because of the cultural revolution... a life inutil from the beginning, unlooked after, unwanted. And behind all this is the shadow of Mao and his over-passionate entourages.

The director Ikeya is of the same age as me. Chapeau, maître. This is a great film.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Films this year:

23. Ulrike Koch, The Saltmen of Tibet (1997)
24. Euzhan Palcy, Rue Cases-Nègres (1983)

23 is stunning. Quiet and sublime. It depicts a team of salt gatherers who travel far to a salt lake on another plateaur annually as if for a pilgrimage. Their journey and their work on the spot are both out of this world. It reminds me of the actual salt pilgrimage ritual in the American Southwest (of which tribe I can't recall now).

24 I had watched 4 or 5 times over twenty years and yet I was not sure tonight about the sequences of the events at many points; my cinematic memory is eternally deficient! A very well-made story with a clear intention for the community in mind. The final song that people spontaneously begin to sing on the scene (towards the end) of the arrestation of Léopold should be paid more attention. BY ME.

A very educational essay must be written as an analysis of this film (even if the analysis itself may end up a rather tedious one).

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The children in Afghanistan

Films this year:

20. Hana Makhmalbaf, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (2008)
21. Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino (2008)
22. Seiichi Motohashi, Singing With Nami (2006)

In 20, our genius Samira's younger sister Hana proved herself to be a real genius, even surpassing her sis... outstanding. Incredibly well wrought, full of compassion and awareness, and breathtakingly beautiful. And this, a work of an 18 year old? The world is unfathomable. This film is destined to be a classic and every school in the world should try to organize a free screening.

What can I say about 21? It's impeccable, and it's very predictable. A nice urban fairy tale in this age of mass migration and oriented specifically toward... well, needless to say. Can't quite believe some of the best film critics in Japan admire Eastwood to an unimaginable extent! He is always good, always fun to watch, and NEVER BETRAYS YOUR EXPECTATION. This is his problem, and his view of the world is deeply disgusting. Why should he drive the story into the intra-Hmong conflict? Maybe it's not so much of Eastwood's fault, but that of the American movie industry.

22 is a charming documentary film depicting a 85 year-old woman folk singer in Okinawa. Her life being not always very satisfactory, she nonetheless never looses her innate cheerfulness and is determined to live to be 120! The original writer Nobuko Kyo is a Korean-Japanese and I am rather interested in her work. This is our contemporary. This is the story beside which we unkowningly live.