Asian

Various – Lian hua jiao xiang qu AKA Symphony of Lianhua (1937)

“The Lianhua Film Company became the leading progressive studio of the 1930s. Symphony of Lianhua 1937 is a rarely seen showcase of short films by eight directors, many of whom later worked in Hong Kong. Cai Chusheng’s Five Little Brothers is an early cinematic exploration of children’s lives and Zhu Shilin’s contribution is one of the first Chinese horror films. Other films range from comedy to social realism. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Nora inu AKA Stray Dog (1949)

Quote:
Stray Dog is an intense criminal story that examines the psychology of the characters as in compares the similarities between criminals and detectives. These similarities are balanced on a thin line based on choice, which Kurosawa dissects studiously through the camera lens. Kurosawa’s investigation of the character’s psychology creates a spiraling suspense that is enhanced through subtle surprises and brilliant cinematography. The camera use often displays shots through thin cloths, close ups, and new camera angles, which also makes the film aesthetically appealing. When Kurosawa brings together camera work and cast performance, among other cinematic aspects, he leaves the audience with a brilliantly suspenseful criminal drama, which leaves much room for introspection and retrospection. Read More »

Takashi Miike – Bijitâ Q AKA Visitor Q (2001)

Synopsis;
A troubled and perverted family find their lives intruded by a mysterious stranger who seems to help find a balance in their disturbing natures.

A father, who is a failed former television reporter tries to mount a documentary about violence and sex among youths. He proceeds to have sex with his daughter who is now a prostitute and films his son being humiliated and hit by classmates. “Q”, a perfect stranger somehow gets involved and enter the bizzare family who’s son beats his mom, who in turn is also a prostitute and a heroin addict… Read More »

Tatsumi Kumashiro – Kushi no hi AKA Love in a Small Room (1975)

Hirobe is a lonely man. After witnessing her girlfriend die with a terminal illness, he wanders through the city like a shadow. One day, he meets Masako and they begin an affair. Masako is in an unhappy marriage with Yazawa, who is also cheating on her with a younger lover. The tension builds up to an unforgiving, yet quiet climax… Read More »

Jun Li – Nong nu AKA Serfs (1963)

From the BFI website:
Drama about the exploitation of a Tibetan serf and his liberation by the People’s Liberation Army. Orphaned Jampa is brought up by his grandmother until she dies when he is twelve. The serf-owner Namgyal makes him a house serf and ill-treats him. Lamka, the sister of his blacksmith friend Gezong, tells him the P.L.A. has reached Tibet. Jampa, Gezong and the P.L.A defeat the plots of Namgyal and Thugpen, the hypocritical `living buddha’ and the serfs are emancipated. Read More »

Kar-Wai Wong – Hua yang de nian hua (2000)

HUA YANG DE NIAN HUA, a fascinating 2m 28s montage of images Wong kar-wai pulled from a number of vintage Chinese features, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s. Focusing on the popular actresses of the time, the short’s lovely vintage costumes and imagery perfectly compliment the look and feel of the main feature. Unfortunately, the transfer (provided to Criterion by Wong’s company, Block 2 Pictures) is framed too tightly on top, bisecting a number of heads. Read More »

Teinosuke Kinugasa – Jigokumon aka The Gate of Hell (1953)

Synopsis:
In 1159, during an attempted coup, one of the court’s ladies in waiting disguises herself as the lord’s wife, and a loyal samurai conveys her from the city. This diversion allows the royal family to escape. After the coup fails, the samurai asks his lord to let him marry the woman as his reward. The lord grants the request and then discovers she is already married to one of the ruling family’s lieges. The samurai clings to his desire, importuning her to leave her husband, then challenging the husband to release her. Although the husband stays calm and she stays faithful, the samurai remains intemperate and stubborn, with tragic consequences. Read More »