Review (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
To Live is a simple title, but it conceals a universe. The film follows the life of one
family in China, from the heady days of gambling dens in the 1940s to the austere
hardship of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. And through all of their fierce struggles
with fate, all of the political twists and turns they endure, their hope is basically one
summed up by the heroine, a wife who loses wealth and position and children, and
who says, “All I ask is a quiet life together.” The movie has been directed by Zhang
Yimou, the leading Chinese filmmaker right now (although this film offended Beijing and
earned him a two-year ban from filmmaking). It stars his wife, Gong Li, the leading
Chinese actress (likewise banned). Together their credits include Ju Dou, Raise the Red
Lantern and The Story of Qui Ju. Like them it follows the fate of a strong woman, but
also this time a strong man; somehow they stick together through incredible hardships.
At the end of the school semester, Bao is sent to Quchi to be with his recently widowed grandfather because his parents are considering a divorce. Depressed and sullen, he has to transfer to a small elementary school where he discovers that he shares the nickname, “Bear”, with a girl in his class.
An extraordinary group of action stars join up together as elite college graduates in the 1950′s who commit perfect financial crimes through legal loopholes. Starring the great Natsuyagi Isao and Chiba Shinichi, along with legendary samurai star Amachi Shigeru. As with all things in life, nothing is perfect. Will justice prevail or is there really a perfect crime? Edge of the seat suspense highlights this superb crime drama! Continue reading
This is a rare chance to see a film by Kinuyo Tanaka as director. Tanaka was an actress known through her starring roles in many, many Japanese films in the pre-war and post-war golden ages – films like Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu (1952) – through to her tremendous and award winning performance in Kei Kumai’s Sandakan 8 (1974). Although not the first woman to direct a film in Japan Tanaka was able to produce a handful of films in the 50s that are very competently made and much better and more interesting than many in their treatment of women in society. Although it was said that her relationship with Mizoguchi was the reason she was able or allowed to direct it is clear that she had talent that was all her own and that she was able to work with the cream of Japan’s studio talent (the script writer is Keisuke Kinoshita). Koibumi was her first film as director.
From DVD distributor trigon-film:
Wu Hongyan, woman executioner in her thirties, works at the court in the province of Shaanxi in China, where she executes women condemned to death only. In spite of her macabre job, Wu Hongyan travels every weekend to a town nearby to join parties organized by a marriage bureau. The result of her dating is mediocre, until she meets the mysterious Li Jun. But she is thousands of miles away of imagining that Li Jun’s wife is the last of the women she executed. Electrifying! Continue reading
The Japanese melodrama “Like Father, Like Son” turns on the kind of cruel twist — children switched at birth — that’s the stuff of tear-wringing headlines and fiction. It begins with the revelation that two 6-year-old boys were given at birth to the wrong families, which now need to decide on the best thing to do. For one set of parents, Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midorino (Machiko Ono), a comfortably middle-class couple nestled high in a glass tower, the revelation that their only son, Keita (Keita Ninomiya), isn’t a blood relation is a blow to their tiny family. It’s also a wedge that — day by day, hurt by hurt — transforms these loving parents into sparring partners. Family ties wind through the work of the Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose films include “Nobody Knows” (about four children abandoned by their mother) and “Still Walking” (about a family grieving for a dead son). In his last film, “I Wish,” he tells the story of two seemingly unsinkable young brothers separated by their mother and father’s bad marriage and choices: Each child lives with a different parent, having been divided up as if they were household possessions. In “Like Father, Like Son,” Mr. Hirokazu again creates a pair of irresistible charmers whose lives are, with increasing emotional violence, upended — with polite bows, civilized conversations and hollow-sounding rationalizations — by the very adults meant to take care of them. — Manohla Dargis
The Blade is a whirlwind of blood, color and stunning imagery. Rarely does one find an action movie so uncompromising and technically evolved as this offering from Hong Kong’s prolific director/producer giant Tsui Hark. Based on the “classic” kung-fu film The One-Armed Swordsman, The Blade tells the story of a young man adopted by the owner of a renowned sword smithy, who discovers that his true father was killed by an almost superstitiously powerful bandit, Lung “who it is said can fly!”. When he goes out seeking revenge with his father’s broken blade, he runs afoul of a group of vicious desert scum, and loses his right arm in the encounter. After being nursed back to health by an orphaned farmboy, he eventually learns to compensate for his loss, and with half a weapon, half a swordfighting manual, and one arm short of a pair, returns to confront the man who murdered his father. Continue reading