Asian

Kon Ichikawa – Kagi AKA The Key AKA Odd Obsession (1959) (HD)

Winner of Cannes’ Special Jury Prize, Odd Obsession is one of acclaimed director Kon Ichikawa’s (Tokyo Olympiad, The Burmese Harp) greatest works. This captivating blend of comic satire and drama follows an elderly man’s attempts to satisfy his younger wife (Machiko Kyo, Rashomon, Gate of Hell). When “potency” injections fail, Mr. Kenmochi incites his own jealousy by orchestrating an affair between his wife and his doctor, who happens to be his daughter’s fiance. The wife and doctor are eager to oblige Kenmochi, his daughter is furious, and the scheme proves both a success and a deadly disaster. With dazzling imagery, rich irony, and superb acting, Odd Obsession illuminates the ongoing battle between personal desire and societal convention. Read More »

Satyajit Ray – Parash Pathar aka The Philosopher’s Stone (1958)

Parash Pathar was Satyajit Ray’s immediate follow-up to his celebrated Aparajito. The film bears the heavy (but never oppressive) influence of Ray’s idol, French filmmaker Jean Renoir. Tulsi Chakravetry plays Parresh Dutt, an elderly clerk who comes into possession of a stone that can turn the humblest mineral into gold. Attaining vast wealth overnight, Dutt finds that he is still persona non grata in High Society. Taking revenge on his “betters,” he uses his wonderful stone to destroy the economy. Realizing the damage that he’s done, the clerk sacrifices himself to set things right again. When first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958, Parash Pathar was greeted with amused indifference; critics and viewers alike preferred the profundity of Ray’s “Apu” trilogy to this modest little fable. Music by Ravi Shankar. Read More »

Kiyoshi Nishimura – Hairpin Circus (1972)

A retired racing champion, now a driving instructor, gets involved with the speed tribes after impulsively taking to the streets to relive his former glory. Read More »

Sogo Ishii – Totsugeki! Hakata Gurentai aka Charge! Hooligans of Hakata (1978)

The film that put ISHII on the map, thanks to a Grand Prize at Japan’s bastion of indie cinema, the PIA Film Festival. Those who know the director mainly for his punk style films will be surprised, not to mention delighted, by this ode to 1970s yakuza movies à la Kinji FUKASAKU. A movie like a good rock band: it stars a charismatic young cast, has energy to spare, and thumps with a pace and rhythm that sweep you breathlessly along. (Tom Mes) Read More »

Hirokazu Koreeda – Aruitemo aruitemo aka Still Walking (2008)

Quote:
The lyrical, profoundly moving Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) is contemporary Japanese master Hirokazu Kore – eda’s most personal work to date. Created as a tribute to his late mother, the film depicts one day in the life of the Yokoyamas, gathered together for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear. Rather than focus on big dramatic moments, Kore – eda relies on simple gestures and domestic routines (especially cooking) to evoke a family’s entire life, its deep regrets and its daily joys. Featuring vivid, heartrending performances and a gentle naturalism that harks back to the director’s earlier, documentary work, Still Walking is an extraordinary portrayal of the ties that bind us. Read More »

Yinan Diao – Zhifu aka Uniform (2003)

Quote:
Economic unrest roils central China’s Shaanxi Province: local factories are merging, thugs threaten managers, personnel records get lost, and workers are without protections such as health insurance. The police and much of society are surly. Xiao Jian, a mild young man whose father is ill, works in the family street stall doing pressing and tailoring. A laundered police-officer’s shirt goes uncollected, and Xiao Jian puts it on: it opens doors. Wearing it, he chats up a clerk, Zheng Shasha, and takes her out. He extracts fines from drivers who violate traffic laws. In these tough times, he’s not the only one with two identities. How long can he sustain it? Read More »

Sun-Woo Jang – Gyeongmajang ganeun kil AKA The Road to the Racetrack (1991)

Synopsis:
R (MUN Seong-geun) returns from studying in France and reunites with J (GANG Su-yeon), whom he used to live with in Paris. For some reason, however, J refuses to have sex with R. Angered by her refusal, R travels to his hometown of Daegu. He sees his wife (Kim Bo-yeon) and children for the first time in years, but not only is he less than thrilled to be with them but he actually finds himself despising them. R’s head is filled with thoughts of having sex with J. He sees J every time he comes to Seoul on business, but she keeps resisting his demand for sex on the unconvincing pretext that they are not in France, and he begins to grow tired. Read More »