Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Telling the future?

Films this year:

74. Kim Ki-duk, Birdcage Inn (1998).

Emotionally far-fetched and often tepid and boring, the film shows its true color in the final 10 minutes or so. You'd be chilled to see that many of his future works are foretold in this odd piece. Spiritual sisterhood (the undertone is lesbianism) played against the theme of the sacred whore; like that in his later masterpiece Samaritan Girl.

And who else lets the snow fall in the summer? Lets a gold fish swim in the sea? Marvelously insane.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dangerous Altitude

Films this year:

71. Lu Chuan, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004)
72. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Café Lumière (2003)
73. The Coen brothers, Blood Simple. (1984)

71 is a visually stunning pseudo-documentary which is based on the true story of the porchers and the privately organized mountain patrol of the region. I am not sure if actual killing of the animals has been involved in the production, but it looks that way. The quicksand is chilling. The beauty of the land over 4700m or thereabouts is divine.

72 is a masterpiece set in Tokyo with almost unbelievable performance from the singer Hitoto Yo. Her portrayal of a young woman who choses to become a single mother is so convincing, uncannily natural. Asano Tadanobu is good, too.

It seems that Zhang Yimou is remaking 73! This already classic thriller is so... Coen-like. What other than this tautology can explain their films. Weird and fascinating.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Bangkok

Films this year:

70. Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Last Life in the Universe (2003)

Fresh and nice, with immer breathtaking Chris Doyle's cinematography. The story has some subtle moments, which are pleasing, and some incongruities, which are interesting. Asano Tadanobu is an interesting actor who may possibly have a pan-Asian appeal. Got to see more from this director.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering Dalian

Films this year:

68. Zhang Yimou, Happy Times (2000)
69. Kim Ki-duk, Breath (2007)

68 is a film with a very unhappy ending. It makes every sensible person cry. My Chinese student says it's a story with a real backdrop of a heavy recession and a mass internal immigration to Shin-sen. Nicely done, comic, and ruthlessly sad. Set in Dalian and I liked it all the more for it.

69 is like an absurdist drama. The story is far-fetched, yet the whole piece is more than attractive. The strangeness of the heroine is well over-done, but you'll get used to it. With so little number of actors and settings, how can he make this much sensation? Amazing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Korea in Winter (simply unbeatable)

Films this year:

63. Albert Lamorisse, Le balon rouge (1956)
64. Albert Lamorisse, Crin Blanc (1953)
65. Kim Ki-duk, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)
66. Matt Taylor, Gate (2008)
67. Kim Ki-duk, 3 Iron (2004)

63 is a very famous short film. Charming, yes, but nothing moving. On the other hand, 64 is formidable! The mud-slide scene is exciting, the ending heart-breaking and takes your breath away. Camargues invites me.

65 is probably Kim's best work ever. Chillingly beautiful and the imagination behind it is otherworldly. True genius!

66 is an interesting documentary covering three Japanese monks who walk on summer days from San Francisco to Trinity Site, Nuevo Mexico... to return the fire of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima that has been kept for 60 years at a temple... an amazing true story. As a film it's rather ordinary, but because of this extraordinary walk I appreciate it highly.

67 is again fascinating.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Another WOW

Films this year:

62. Wong Kar-wai, Chungkin Express (1994)

A masterpiece of cinematography and a schizo piece as far as its story line is concerned. And all the more convincing for it!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Falling into fall

Films this year:

55. Andrei Tarkovsky, The Steamroller and the Violin (1960)
56. Kim Ki-duk, Samaritan Girl (2004)
57. Kim Ki-duk, The Bow (2005)
58. Wong Kar-wai, Days of being wild (1991)
59. Tony Gatlif, Latcho Drom (1992)
60. Kim Ki-duk, Time (2006)
61. Kim Ki-duk, Crocodile (1996)

55 is Tarkovsky's cinema school graduation work. Genius is brimming. 56 was my first Kim and I was astounded. Very strange and powerful. The same goes with 57. Mythological, funny, and moving.

58 deserves to be a cult. The stream of narrative is so turbulent and beautiful. 59, one of my all-time favorite from my (possibly) favorite world-cinema director.

60 is again so crazy... metaleptic use of the first encounter between the two (in fact one) women is so effective. 61 is harsh, yet brilliant moments including the unexpected ending.

Let's keep rolling the ball.