Ming-liang Tsai – Wu Wu Mian AKA No No Sleep (2015)

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No No Sleep’ sees Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang revisiting Lee Kang Sheng’s walking monk, this time in Tokyo. But rather than spend all his time on the city streets, Tsai eventually transplants the anonymous monk to a Japanese ‘onsen’ (a public bathhouse), where he’s joined by an equally anonymous Japanese man. Continue reading

Pil-Sung Yim – Hansel & Gretel (2007)

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A reckless youngster Eun-soo drives to his mother’s and has a car accident. When Eun-soo wakes up, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale-like house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age. Soon he learns all the adults who visited or stayed in the house have met mysterious yet terrible ends. More shockingly, their cruel deaths are drawn in details and made into a fairytale book by the children. Scared Eun-soo tries to find the way out, but the house is secluded in the forest with no way out. Then, Eun-soo discovers a book which tells a brutal end of none other than…himself! Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sud pralad AKA Tropical Malady (2004)

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Plot

The story of a blossoming romance between a soldier and a country boy, crossed with a Thai folk legend about a shaman with shapeshifting abilities.

Review

Love is the drug, a game for two and, in the otherworldly new Thai film ”Tropical Malady,” unabashedly strange. A fractured love story about the mystery and impossibility of desire, the film was directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose earlier feature ”Blissfully Yours” opened recently in New York. Perched between two worlds, two consciousnesses and two radically different storytelling traditions, this new feature, which will be screened today as part of the New York Film Festival, shows a young filmmaker pushing at the limits of cinematic narrative with grace and a certain amount of puckish willfulness. Continue reading

Stanley Kwan – Yin ji kau aka Rouge (1987)

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Plot Synopsis

Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan directs this stunning supernatural melodrama about a passion, romance, and lost history. Fleur (Anita Mui) is a 1930s high-class courtesan who finds herself sucked into a doomed relationship with Twelfth Master Chan Chen-Pang (Leslie Cheung), the rakish scion of a prosperous business family that disapproves of their union. After a brief but intense courtship, the two resolve to be together in the afterworld by swallowing opium. Yet once there, Fleur discovers that she is alone. After waiting 50 years for her dearly beloved, she re-emerges in 1987 to place a personal ad. In the process, she enlists the aid of a pair of journalists: Yuen (Alex Man) and his feisty, occasionally jealous girlfriend Ah Chor (Emily Chu). Fleur learns that the Hong Kong she knew has by and large disappeared: the brothel where she worked was now a kindergarten. As she tells them of her love for Twelfth Master, the two journalists begin to find their relationship intensifying. As Fleur’s spirit grows weaker, their search continues until it yields results that are both sad and ironic. — Jonathan Crow @allmovieguide.com Continue reading

Shuji Terayama – Den-en ni shisu aka Pastoral : To Die in the Country aka Pastoral Hide-and-Seek (1974)

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Quote:
Terayama’s second feature recapitulates some of the main themes of Throw Away Your Books in more directly personal terms: it’s a film about a film-maker’s re-examination (and attempted revision) of his own childhood. His boyhood self is an unprepossessing lad who lives with his monstrous, widowed mother, fantasises about the desirable girl-next-door, and finds the visiting circus a touchstone for his dreams of escape. With passion, wit and a genuinely engaging charm, Terayama poses the burning question: Does murdering your mother constitute a true liberation? The autobiographical stance and the circus motif have evoked countless comparisons with Fellini, but they’re very wide of the mark: the film isn’t burdened with bombast or rhetoric, but it is rich in (authentically Japanese) poetry, and its modernist approach is challenging in the best and most accessible sense. Continue reading

Prasanna Vithanage – Ira Madiyama (2003)

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Based on true incidents, this film revolves around three sories that unfold simultaneously. During two scorching August days, three different groups of people – thrown into the heat of the war – face different exoeriences due to circumstances beyond their control. They have to continue to exist in a society that is traumatized by nearly twenty years of war between the Sinhalese government forces, and the rebel movement from the Tamil community who are fighting for self-determination.

An eleven year old Muslim boy is struggling to keep his dog, while the family is uprooted by the rebels; a young woman, Chamari, is looking for her soldier husband who is missing in action, and a young soldier, Duminda, finds his sister among the working girls in a brothel. This film is about their quest for life…

“Ira Madiyama” or “August Sun” screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2004. Continue reading

Hitoshi Yazaki – Sangatsu no raion aka March Comes in Like a Lion (1991)

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TimeOut London:
March Comes in Like a Lion
Review

Or, perhaps, love among the ruins. In present-day Tokyo, a waste land of tenements prey to decrepitude and demolition, ‘Ice’ (Yura) decides to collect Haruo (Cho), the young man she’s set her heart on, from the hospital where he’s being treated for amnesia. A little lie is needed to entice him back to the apartment she’s found for them: she tells him she’s his lover, neglecting to add that she’s also his sister. With no recollections to suggest otherwise, he goes along with her – but how long before his memory returns? With its long, static, carefully composed takes, taciturn script and tantalisingly ambivalent tone, Yazaki’s beautifully matter-of-fact study of incestuous longing is an engrossing, sexy and remarkably tender movie. Crucially, it eschews both easy judgments and fake sentimentality; indeed, there’s a droll, deadpan humour at work, most noticeably in the frequent sight gags. At the same time, however, the evocative use of metaphors ensures that the general air of detachment makes not for a dry, academic exercise, but a poetic tale of a fragile, blossoming romance that’s finally both subtly subversive and, thanks to the charismatic central performances, deeply affecting. Continue reading