Edward Yang – Yi yi (2000)

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Master Taiwanese director Edward Yang spins this intricate and complex yarn about life’s everyday crises. The film focuses on N.J. Jian (Wu Nien-jen), a noted writer/director in his own right), his wife Min-min (Elaine Jin) and their two children, teenager Ting-ting (Kelly Lee) and young Yang-yang (Jonathan Chang). Their middle-class existence seems stable and secure until a series of incidents throws all of their lives out of kilter. The misfortunes start at the wedding of Min-min’s ne’er-do-well brother A-Di (Chen Xisheng), when his jilted ex-girlfriend Yun-Yun (Zeng Xinyi) bursts into the proceedings and lambastes the bride. Upset by the ruckus and feeling unwell, Min-min’s mother goes home early only to suffer a stroke and slip into a coma. After the wedding, N.J. runs into his first love, Sherry (Ke Suyun), who is married to a rich American. This chance encounter shakes N.J. to his very foundations, forcing him to reevaluate his life. At the same time, N.J.’s computer company deliberates on whether or not to collaborate with a renowned Japanese games designer, Ota (Issey Ogata), sending N.J. to Japan to negotiate a contract. Confronted by her mother’s coma, Min-min also takes stock of her life and finds it lacking. On the brink of a nervous breakdown, she suddenly joins a religious retreat. Continue reading

Anqi Ju – Shi ren chu chai le AKA Poet on a Business Trip (2015)

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In all its simplicity, a completely unique film, shot more than 10 years ago and only now edited. A poet sets off on a ‘business trip’ through inhospitable Xinjiang. The physically exhausting trip provides an existential brothel visit, bumping on bad roads and a glimpse of a disappearing world, but also 16 melancholy poems.

In 2002, Ju Anqi made a film about a tour by the poet Shu through Xinjiang, the most western-lying, autonomous Uyghur province of China. All that we know about Shu is that he plays a poet who sends himself on a business trip – an absurd, satirical starting point that sets the tone for the film.
For a variety of reasons, it was not until 2013 that Ju started editing the rough, lyrical material that he had shot in what is now a very restless Xinjiang: it’s like an excellent wine that has had time to mature. Structured around 16 poems which he wrote on the road, Shu’s physically exhausting journey takes him along endless rocky roads, passing shabby inns and through impressive landscapes from one prostitute to the next.
In its documentary authenticity, Poet on a Business Trip is also an historic document that exudes an atmosphere of loss, providing an unsentimental yet melancholy glimpse of a country in transition and a mirror for the existential irreversibility of time. Continue reading

Volker Schlöndorff – Homo Faber AKA Voyager (1991)

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A man who has spent his life running away from his past. He is forced to finally deal things that he has left unresolved. When fate puts him on a collision course with the life that he reluctantly walked away from.
Voyager was directed by Volker Schlondorff, who’s other notable films include The Tin Drum and Death of a salesman. The screenplay for Voyager was written by Rudy Wurlitzer (Two-Lane Blacktop, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid). The screenplay was adapted from Swiss author Max Frisch’s novel ‘Homo Faber’. Continue reading

Moumen Smihi – Si Moh, pas de chance AKA Simoh, the Unlucky Man (1971)

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Shot in Paris after Smihi completed film school, Si Moh is an investigation of the life of migrant workers in France. Connected back to the Maghreb by postcards and to his fellow migrants by shared experiences of alienation, the character Simoh negotiates the industrialized suburbs of Paris as the subject of Smihi’s intimate camera. Continue reading

Giuseppe Patroni Griffi – Il mare (1963)

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Tourist season has not yet begun. Capri is deserted and the sky is sadly grey. An actor arrives. He’s waiting for a woman who won’t come. In the meanwhile he’s having a strange relationship with a young alcoholic man who even tries to kill him; he’s bored, with no ideals, strong and weak at the same time. The two men are shaping a strange friendship, or at least they try, until a woman comes on the isle.
“In this movie words are used in a way different from usual. When they talk to each other, the three leading actors talk about ordinary things, not about their relationship. They never talk about their feelings. The story is sombre, as it’s filled with missed attractions and hidden feelings. The actors express themselves with moves, gestures and their contribution is fundamental for that. Only good actors can do that” (Patroni Griffi) Continue reading