Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Loong Boonmee raleuk chat AKA Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

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Confession: my only previous exposure to Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Thai director who’s one of the most lauded auteurs currently working, was a DVD copy of Tropical Malady, which frankly bored my pants off. Watching Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives on the big screen at the New York Film Festival’s Alice Tully Hall, it occurred to me almost immediately that waiting to see anything by Weerasethakul on DVD is a terrible idea. For Uncle Boonmee, the large theater screen works like a window onto a bigger world populated by larger-than-actual-size memories and myths. And the photography is not the kind of crisp, high-contrast work that translates well to home video (though Blu-ray might do OK by it) — shots taken within the Thai jungle, for instance, are unfailingly dense and moody, with different and ever-darker shades of green layered on top of each other like thick brush strokes in an oil painting. Sometimes it feels as if the whole film were shot at twilight, or using day-for-night shooting and processing trickery. Continue reading

Keigo Kimura – Fûten Rôjin nikki aka Diary of a Mad Old Man (1962)

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Diary of a Mad Old Man is the journal of Utsugi, a seventy-seven-year-old man of refined tastes who is recovering from a stroke. He discovers that, while his body is decaying, his libido still rages on — unwittingly sparked by the gentle, kindly attentions of his daughter-in-law Satsuko, a chic, flashy dancer with a shady past. Pitiful and ridiculous as he is, Utsugi is without a trace of self-pity, and his diary shines with self-effacing good humor. At once hilarious and of a sadness, Diary of a Mad Old Man is a brilliant depiction of the relationship between eros and the will to live — a film of the tragicomedy of human existence. Continue reading

Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang – Jiang Gui AKA The Eye (2002)

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Highly atmospheric Japanese horror. The premise: a blind woman regains sight through surgery but sees in the mirror, not her own reflection, but that of the dead woman whose corneas she has inherited.

Review
“The Eye” is a thriller about a blind young violinist from Hong Kong whose sight is restored through surgery, but who can then can see a little too well, so that she observes the Grim Reaper leading the doomed in solemn procession to the other side, and shares the anguish of the donor of her eyes. What’s more, she’s thrown out of the blind orchestra, now that she can see. Continue reading

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake – Suddilage Kathawa (1984)

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A masterpiece of Sri Lankan cinema, “Suddilage Kathawa” or “A Woman in a Whirlpool” is the third film by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake. Swarna Mallawarachi plays the role of Suddi who is married to Romiel, a hired assassin played by Cyril Wickramage. Suddi’s life becomes complex when her husband ends up in prison and she is forced to have multiple affairs in order to support herself. Joe Abeywickrama plays the role of the village head whose brother-in-law is a shop owner played by Sommie Rathnayake. Observe how the lives of these characters are intricately nested around love, hate, deception, crime and murder. Witness the facets that greed takes in this exceptional feauture film, beautifully shot and portrayed by accomplished cinematographer Udaya Perera. Continue reading

Yôji Yamada – Otôto AKA About Her Brother (2010)

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Ginko (Yoshinaga Sayuri) seems to be living the good life: She’s the respectable owner of a neighborhood drug store in Tokyo, and her daughter Kaharu (Aoi Yu) is about to get married to a doctor. However, Koharu’s wedding day also brings homes Ginko’s younger brother Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei), a failed actor and a hard drinker who shows up causing trouble. Having covered for him all her life, Ginko is ready to disown her burdensome younger brother, but some things are easier said than done… Continue reading

Hodzhakuli Narliev – Nevestka AKA Daughter in Law (1972)

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This film from Turkmenistan belongs to an edition of ten films from Central Asia that were shot both during the Soviet times and during the independence epoch. This collection contains 2 films of each country.

This collection was edited in 2006. It was released by the Center of Central Asian Cinematography with the financial support of “Arts and Culture” Network Program of Open Society Institute of Budapest. You will have english subtitles for each film. Continue reading

Kei Kumai – Umi to dokuyaku aka The Sea and Poison (1986)

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Uni to Dokuyaku (1987)
July 22, 1987
FILM: ‘SEA AND POISON,’ FROM JAPAN
By Walter Goodman
Published: July 22, 1987

LEAD: EARLY in ”The Sea and Poison,” the harrowing Japanese movie now at Film Forum 1, a surgical team performs a lung operation on a young woman. It is probably the most graphic view that most of its audience will ever have had of the scalpel and forceps doing their work, and you may find yourself joining the young intern Suguro, who confesses, ”Today in the operating room, I had to close my eyes.

EARLY in ”The Sea and Poison,” the harrowing Japanese movie now at Film Forum 1, a surgical team performs a lung operation on a young woman. It is probably the most graphic view that most of its audience will ever have had of the scalpel and forceps doing their work, and you may find yourself joining the young intern Suguro, who confesses, ”Today in the operating room, I had to close my eyes.” Continue reading