Takashi Miike – Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999)

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Quote:
Handed a tedious script about a turf war in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho entertainment district (a maverick Chinese gang pulls a robbery which upsets organised crime; a care-worn cop lumbers towards a showdown with the troublemakers), Miike threw away half of it and used the rest as a springboard to amazing inventions. The exposition scenes are boiled down to an entire reel of ‘abstract’ action – a cataclysmic restaurant ambush, a gay man killed while sodomising a kid, the world’s longest line of coke, a homo-erotic knife-throwing act in a girlie bar – while the unrevealable ending is turned into the ultimate blast. In between, Miike offers a series of electrifyingly sad vignettes of death, failure and loss, including what must be the most disturbing stoned murder scene the genre has ever known. A future classic. (Time Out Film Guide) Continue reading

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Kurîpî: Itsuwari no rinjin AKA Creepy (2016)

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Takakura is a former detective. He receives a request from his ex-colleague, Nogami, to examine a missing family case that occurred 6 years earlier. Takakura follows Saki’s memory. She is the only surviving family member from the case. Meanwhile, Takakura and his wife Yasuko recently moved into a new home. Their neighbor, Nishino, has a sick wife and a young teen daughter. One day, the daughter, Mio, tells him that the man is not her father and she doesn’t know him at all. Continue reading

Luc Schaedler – Watermarks: Three Letters from China (2013)

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Synopsis:
Based on three different places, the film portrays the infractions to which people living in modern day China are subjected due to rapid developments: in the deceptively idyllic Jiuxiancun in the rainy south; in the apocalyptic coal mining site of Minqin and Wusutu in the parched north; and in Chongqing, the mega city on the Yangtze River. The protagonists give their moving accounts of an unresolved past, an uncertain present and their tentative steps into the future. The film thus paints a complex image of the mental state of the people in this complicated country. “Watermarks” is a subjective snapshot in time that takes a poetic look at the changing everyday life in China. Continue reading

Aditya Vikram Sengupta – Asha Jaoar Majhe AKA Labour of Love (2014)

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Quote:
There’s very little in common between Asha Jaoar Majhe and In The Mood For Love, but somehow Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut feature reminded me a lot of Wong Kar Wai’s classic romance. Perhaps it’s to do with the abiding images of the two protagonists walking/cycling along narrow city alleys with little spoken yet a lot communicated through music; just the plaintive shehnai music in the background here, and the aching melancholy of Yumeji’s theme there. Like In The Mood For Love, Asha Jaoar Majhe is a quiet, almost silent film, yet each of its frames is resonant with unspoken feelings. Can you tell a story with just everyday images and situational sounds? Sengupta does it seamlessly. Continue reading

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

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Plot :
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. Continue reading

Hsiao-Hsien Hou – Dong dong de jiàqi AKA A Summer at Grandpa’s (1984)

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Synopsis wrote:
A young boy and his sister spend a summer at their grandparents’ house in the country while their mother recuperates from an illness. They while away the hours climbing trees, swimming in a stream, searching for missing cattle, and coming to uneasy grips with the enigmatic and sometimes threatening realities of adult life. Continue reading