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Complete! - Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Posters

 
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Complete! - Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by E... - 3/3/2011 3:58:00 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005
 
Welcome to the rundown of the Top 150 films for East Asia. The discussion thread can be found
 
 
The top post of the thread also runs through the countries that were covered in this particular list.
 
Our thanks up front to Gimli, who very kindly made our wonderful banner. And while we normally save the thank you for blurbs/reviews nicked till the end, we couldn't help but notice that a very large number of the reviews to come were originally written by Gram123 and Pigeon Army. Without them most of these would have been blurbless or our job would have been an amazing amount harder - thank you
 
And please note - some of these reviews/blurbs may contain spoilers but I've tried to be careful and used minor edits in some of the reviews we've borrowed.
 
The Top 150
 
150.
Perfect Blue (Kon, 1998)
 
147. =
 
Enter the Dragon (Clouse, 1973)
Ip Man (Yip, 2008)
Mothra (Honda, 1961)
 
146
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Imamura, 2001)
 
144. =
Eat Drink Man Woman (Lee, 1994)
Vengeance Is Mine (Imamura, 1979)
 
143
Goshu the Cellist (Takahata, 1982)


< Message edited by elab49 -- 4/4/2011 4:43:32 PM >


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Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 1
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 3/3/2011 4:18:29 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Perfect Blue  (Kon, 1998)

The opening had me a bit sceptical but it surprised me later on. This is a film firmly rooted in its time. Amongst other things, it's about change in life, and the beginning of the Internet era not only suits its stalker plot perfectly but also gives the whole thing an interesting context.

The nudity and blood are probably quite radical in themselves (or maybe I've been watching the wrong animes), but the film fucks with the viewers' minds far beyond that. I admit its endless "it was a dream! Or was it?!” sequences in the second half may seem repetitive and annoying, but I think it just serves as a confusion tool and is perfectly apt (now the final twist I'm less happy about).

Comparisons with Lynch are deserved, this is well on par with (interestingly, released much later) Mulholland Drive. Though I admit it lacks that film's daze-like complexity, it's about twice shorter so I can hardly blame it for that. The cloying nature of the pop idol stuff only adds to the subversion.

The ending, once I got used to the ridiculous twist, was genuinely thrilling. I didn't expect to find myself caring for the main character, but I did. The killer, too, despite being a caricature, was pretty scary.

In short, I probably liked this more than I should, but it's dynamic, exciting, and actually quite intelligent, not bad at all for a debut feature. RIP, needless to say.
 
Miles Messervy 007
 

The front of the DVD copy of Perfect Blue  that I hired has, in big white font, a quote from Roger Corman - "If Alfred Hitchcock partnered with Walt Disney they'd make a film like this." This isn't really correct, a) because there's next-to-no Walt Disney in this (I get the feeling that was just Corman pigeonholing animation), and b) because he compared Kon to the wrong thriller director. Far from having a Hitchcockian vibe, Perfect Blue  carries the rather more obvious imprint of David Lynch - the fever-dream second half, the heroine in peril, the blurring of reality and hallucination, the somewhat-grotesque supporting characters. In fact, if Mulholland Drive hadn't been released three years after Perfect Blue  , I'd suggest Kon had taken some serious inspiration from Lynch's muddled and underwhelming film. Kon takes this Lynchian style and runs with it, the innocuous opening slowly developing into a bizarre and vividly violent psychological thriller that dissects the foundations of Japan's most prominent 'star machine' - the pop idol 'scene'. The absurd amount of pressure the industry places on its young stars and starlets, from the agents and managers looking for big money any way they can to the fans that react aggressively to any divergence from the squeaky-clean perfection they demand, is taken to disturbing extremes, and the comprehensiveness of the way the film critiques the scene gives the already-gripping thriller some satisfying depth. The animation isn't always up to scratch, at times looking downright ugly and oddly-drawn, and the big reveal feels like it undermines the good work of the film up to that point in its critique of J-pop constructs and the position of women in contemporary Japanese media, but there's a lot to chew on here, and it's all packaged in a whirlwind of a thriller, filled with choice setpieces (the parking lot sequence, hell yes) and backed by a menacing, throbbing soundtrack.
 
Pigeon Army


< Message edited by elab49 -- 3/3/2011 4:20:40 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 2
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 3/3/2011 4:23:48 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Enter the Dragon (Clouse, 1973)

While on the phone with my father today, I asked him why he neglected to show me this film when I was a child. He seemed baffled by the question, and asked if I was referring to the Bruce Lee film. On verification of that, he proceeded to say he didn't know and recommend Blind Fury as if that was somehow compensation for the discrepancies in the cinematic education he offered me. Enter the Dragon is a film that I feel, had I seen it when I was ten or eleven, I would have fallen in love with to this day, but as it stands, I only first experienced it in a class on East Asian cinema and, thus, I could not capture the lightning in a bottle childhood would have offered. This reimagination of Dr. No by way of a very Americanised 'Hong Kong' is enjoyable in its silliness, all the more enjoyable because it seems so unaware of how silly it is. Bruce Lee cuts through proceedings with a steely gaze and silly animal noises whenever he fights, and he's ably assisted in perpetuating the film's cheesiness by a leery John Saxon and Jim Kelly's swarthy afro-sporting Williams. The plot moves along with an usual lack of logic, and there are moments aplenty that seem to have been lost in some time-warp of 1970s kitschy silliness - the New Zealander who speaks with a rough Irish-American accent; Bruce Lee's philosophical teachings of a young student at the start; the inexplicable cages of nondescript drunks Han keeps under his island; the symbolism-heavy mirror fight that sports some impractical leaps of logic; "We, Mr. Braithwaite?"; etc. etc. Of course, when the film matters, it matters like a motherfucker - Bruce Lee's fighting skills are insane, ignoring that they're tempered by him calling his moves like he was a rooster, and Saxon, Kelly and Bolo Yeung are pretty excellent in support. It's a piece of stupid pulp fun, and while it's by no means high art, it is enjoyable while it lasts.
 
Pigeon Army




Yip Man (Ip Man) (Yip, 2008)

Propaganda filmmaking in its most blatant form can often be overbearing and unpleasant to watch because of the xenophobia and nationalism it pushes with such zeal. However, subtle propaganda films are far more interesting in the way they're constructed and presented, and so it is we have Ip Man, a Chinese propaganda film immaculately costumed as a Hong Kong martial arts biopic about Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip. It's not obvious, with the first fifty minutes acting as an entertaining, beautifully-made, well-acted introductory course on China's 1930s martial arts metropolis, Fo Shan. Donnie Yen is on excellent form as Grandmaster Ip, a genial, quiet soul with two loves - his family and his martial art. He rarely fights, and when he does, he rarely does so to cause any real harm, and Yen's natural physicality and unassuming figure makes him wholly believable and engaging in the lead. However, when the film moves forward a few years to 1940s Fo Shan, smack bang in the middle of Japan's occupation of China, Grandmaster Ip and his tale take a turn towards the bleak - he's forced to eke out a living pouring coal, and after beating ten Japanese soldiers at the behest of the area's commanding General, he becomes an unfortunate target of that General. It's here where the propaganda kicks in - the whole virtuous China defeats ugly Japan dynamic that's been playing out for an age since WW2; hell, the film's final intertitles accredit Japan's defeat in WW2 solely to China - but it doesn't push it in the audience's face or promote it at the expense of the narrative or the action, both of which are well realised and, in the case of the martial arts, mind-bogglingly riveting. Unlike Michael Bay's Transformers series, which suffer heavily from blatant flag-waving for America, Ip Man transcends its propaganda roots to become a truly arresting modern martial arts epic, crafted with an undeniable love and artistry.

 
Pigeon Army
 



Mothra (Mosura) (Honda, 1961)

I was genuinely surprised when, halfway through the film, I realised that I was actually really enjoying this, the bastard moth daughter of Godzilla. Gone are the plodding patches of Godzilla where Takashi Shimura's family do very little at all; in its place we have wisecracking newspaper reporters, villainous Japanese-Americans and a plot involving the rescue of two singing fairies while avoiding the wrath of Mosura. The destruction of Tokyo and, later, 'New Kirk City' obviously count as the highlights of the film - the model work is really solid and Mothra is an excellent kaiju to have rampaging through the cities - but on top of all the cheesy monster destruction we've got legitimately interesting characters (Ten-chan, the 'snapping turtle' newspaper writer, is a hilarious and likable protagonist, Dr. Chujo is a far more interesting and active doctor-type than the eyepatch-sporting Dr. Serizawa from Godzilla, and Jerry Ito's Clark Nelson is a magnificent ham of a villain), a surprisingly dense thematic discourse (Mothra is essentially a feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-nuclear Catholic god) and some incredibly solid effects, far better than the man-in-a-suit of Godzilla. Mothra may be one of the forgotten kaiju films, but that's unfairly so, because it is excellent.
 
Pigeon Army


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 3
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 3/3/2011 7:02:57 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Imamura, 2001)
 
The first film I've seen from Imamura Shôhei, and whilst Vengeance is Mine is pretty high on my want list, this was an interesting starting point. The story begins with the death of an old man in Tokyo, who, we learn through flashbacks has bequeathed a valuable treasure to former office worker Yusuke. Yusuke, who has recently lost his job and is having financial and familal troubles, heads off to Toyama to find the treasure. He is waylaid when he becomes involved with Saeko, a woman who has what Wikipedia describes as "an exaggerated proclivity to female ejaculation". From here, he begins to settle in the small town, gets a job as a fisherman and helps "cure" Saeko.

Despite how this sounds, it is not really a titillating sex comedy. It is more of a rom-com with a fantastical sexual element. It has charm and is littered with interesting characters. There is also a socially conscious subplot detailing the fate of Saeko's mother, against a backdrop of cadmium poisoning caused by a local mining company. Having recently watched the Young Thugs: Nostalgia commentary, I was already aware to some extent of the major indsutrial pollution incidents (most notably, mercury) that took place in 1960s Japan, but there was also a case of cadmium posioning, which caused the Itai-itai disease mentioned in the film.

The pace of this distinctly Japanese film is relatively slow, but it's an easy watch and doesn't drag.

Gram123


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Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 4
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 3/3/2011 7:04:41 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Eat Drink Man Woman (Lee, 1994)

Chu, a widower with 3 daughters, sublimates his love for them in amazingly complicated cuisine served up every Sunday for dinner. Jia-Jen is almost as repressed – a schoolteacher, she hasn't moved on from her college boyfriend many years before. Jia-Chien is an impressive businesswoman and the one most like her father so has the most difficult relationship, particularly as she attempts to move out and move on. Finally the youngest, Jia-Ning who, in contrast to her father, works in fast food, while studying.

Structured round dinners and family announcements each family member approaches a change in their lives. It's a sweet, mature and sometimes surprising story well-performed all round. You get a genuine feel for the working environments – the labyrinthine kitchen and the way the office works – and a believable set of sibling interactions. And the food preparation is genuinely amazing.

Elab49
 
 

 
 
Vengeance is Mine (Imamura, 1979)
 
It is quite hard to reconcile the the types of film Imamura made. HIs work incorporated the absurd with a sense of humour – but where the earlier works were harsh and cyncial  the later ones – Kanzo Sensei, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge, were mellower, more quirky,while still asking questions about Japan and the Japanese.  

Based on the 78 day manhunt for a real-life serial killer (here renamed and played with some verve by the great Ken Ogata), we don't get an easy explanation for why Iwao does what he does. Although it does appear to provide hints – he comes from a christian family and witnesses the humiliation of his father (by a representative of the Emperor to an extent), and we get snapshots of a troubled and troublesome boy who is not satisfied with his lot in life and drifts into petty theft and fraud. And then, with some rather mad outbursts, into murder – but it isn't his main aim, more a by-product of his drifting and desire to get what he wants. The killings in this film are grotesque – visceral, difficult. Not one stab and away, but difficult, people fighting for their lives. Nothing is glib and easy or sensationalised but nasty and brutal. Similarly with his crimes – Iwao is also a conman and has done time for fraud and we follow through one particularly clever one where he appropriates money brought for bail but, again, this is not presented as some thrilling escapade but a record of events that aren't being glamorised.

This isn't a straight narrative – certainly chronologically we're moving quickly between shots and scenes quite a lot in the first half of the film before we reach the Asano Inn, and a little less so afterwards, with longer scenes. With trains taking him all over Japan the arrival at the inn is a long sequence of shots giving a sense of immediacy that Donald Ritchie refers to as a predecessor to the kind of shot to come in The Player and Goodfellas, as Iwao moves through the station to the taxi, the inn and to his room. . It is clearer near the end with a couple of very unusual scenes – one where he heads off upstairs to kill someone but, downstairs, his mother comes down the hall and heads into one of the rooms where the rest of his family are – a different house and a different town. And, of course, the final absurd scene (final scenes are often odd) when his father and wife try to get rid of his remains but the ground rejects his bones after an odd and clearly important shot as their cable car ascends above the religeuse in the other going down.

I've always felt that part of this was a comment on old and new Japan – particularly in the last discussion with his father where it seems more like a discussion between the old world and the new, with the latter not being quite able to destroy the former. Where his father kowtowed and accepted the old order – of the Emperor and religion, denying himself his daughter-in-law, this new blood has no such impulse issues and takes what he wants no matter how destructive, most clearly seen in the final killings on screen. But his father has left that order now – life has changed. It's not clearcut, but Imamura always seems to be looking at how the Japanese actually live, dealing with nature clashing with civilisation or reality and fiction (playing with the documentary form in A Man Vanishes and the role of the filmmaker). Another key character is the innkeepers mother – a more interesting symbol of the older society, a murderess herself who to an extent understands Iwao's intent and forestalls it o more than one occasion. Perhaps a sign that things haven't changed as much as might be thought. But that last conversation always interested me and the final accusation that Iwao couldn't destroy his father as he only killed things he didn't hate.
Elab49.


Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) commits violent, extreme, and insane murders and goes on the run. The police end up chasing him all over Japan, but he manages to elude them for seventy eight days, in the process meeting a woman who owns a brothel and falling in love with her. “Vengeance is Mine” is the first Shohei Imamura I’ve seen, and I was quite impressed by its visceral nature, its extreme, ruthless, and realistic portrayal of violence, and its superb handling of both challenging subject matter and a challenging un-chronological narrative. I think there are flaws – most notably that it felt about a quarter of an hour overlong, which is quite shocking when I watched it in-between an Ozu film and “Jeanne Dielman” – but most of them are easy to overlook, especially when you consider the scale and the episodic nature of such a story. It could have been messy, it could have jarred, but, for the most part (and there is the occasional blip), it really works, and it feels like a fluent yet visceral experience. First and foremost, it’s a character study, separating itself from the majority of them by attempting to delve into the mind of a murder who is, almost by his own will, uncontrollable, volatile, and perhaps un-understandable. Imamura attempts to look at why this man is doing these things, but his eventual conclusion seems to be that you can’t always understand such events and crimes, and you can’t always investigate them methodically. Mainly, though, it’s a thriller, and a very good one at that, with a superb central performance from Ken Ogata, who presents this volatile and unpredictable murderer as cagey, paranoid, and tragic in his inability to understand the world. I think, though, that my favourite thing about the film was the subplot between Enokizu’s wife and his father, who hide a secret love – and lust - from the world, constantly trapped by this volatile, hateful figure that plagues both of their lives. Their scenes together are often tender, as suppressed emotion pours out of both of them, but offset by the violent presence that bombards in and out of the film, never allowing them to safely relish their love. It really is a remarkable film, even if ever so slightly flawed.
Piles
 


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 5
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 3/3/2011 7:05:20 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Goshu the Cellist (Takahata, 1982)
 
A gorgeous pre-Ghibli animation from Takahata, Goshu is a simple but heartfelt tale. When Goshu struggles to keep up with the orchestra he plays for, he finds himself helped along by a series of visits from woodland animals. A slight plot that's made magical by the detail and joy Takahata finds in each encounter. The animation on the animals, especially the cat, is remarkable, as is the way the music is shown to change the world around it. The animals are adorable but the film is never cutesy or twee, in other hands this material could have been insufferable, but Takahata uses it to create a celebration of music and of the natural world and he finds a unique harmony between the two.
Rawlinson


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 6
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:42:27 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Devils on the Doorstep (Wen, 2000)
 
Dasan Ma has the misfortune to answer his door one night to 'me' – presumably a member of the Chinese resistance, dropping off a captured Japanese soldier with his interpreter for the village to look after for a few days and also to interrogate. But 'me' doesn't return and the village have no idea what to do, eventually deciding to kill the prisoners.

Wen's brilliant film changes mood with ease and never jars. This is a black comedy with fairly naturalistic dialogue (unexpected as he chose to film in black and white), with some broader comedy in the interplay between the 2 captives after the rather inept interrogation. The changes to drama and outright madness are smooth and flow easily within the film, still keeping the elements of comedy intact (e.g. the execution and the cry to heaven crossed with a useless staff officer failing in front of his audience). And the horror of the central event is unflinching – one wonders why the Chinese had a problem with it and not Japan.

It is served by some excellent performances, not least Wen's own in the lead – not just in handling the comedy, but the relationship with his girlfriend and his isolation after the decision to kill the prisoners is equally well done. Yihong as his pregnant girlfriend is given an almost equally strong, fully-formed, character. Also of note are Yuan Ding and Teruyuki Kagawa as their quarrelsome captives.

The controversy might not seem immediately apparent to western viewers and I was intrigued by how far China went to try and get it banned, including sending representatives to Cannes to try and prevent it being shown there. The key problem seems to be the representation of the Japanese and the relationship of the Chinese to them – not extreme enough, not unsympathetic enough. That does not fit into the official story as far as the authorities were concerned. Personally I don't think they looked at the story closely enough. Oddly, the Japanese seem less concerned with the representation of war crimes – a showing there was well received and the Japanese actors in the piece were satisfied after some discussion with Wen about how they would be portrayed.
Elab49.

 
 
Near the end of World War II, in a small Chinese village, a villager is ordered at gunpoint, by a mysterious figure, to provide shelter for two prisoners, one a Japanese soldier and the other a Chinese translator and to interrogate them. When the figure doesn't return to collect the prisoners, the village begins to panic over their fate. Devils is a powerful anti-war movie, but maybe not in the style that the viewer would expect. It would have been easy to make the film incredibly serious, but the director approaches the film with great humour and a wonderful sense of the absurd, he approaches the escalating situations almost with bemusement at the rigid devotion to notions of duty and honour that causes the insanity to increase. Remarkably it also manages to avoid clashes in tone, despite the leaps between a sense of danger and urgency and black comedy. What I really admire about the film is that despite the potential for sweeping, typical, cinematography, the film rejects the need to send hearts and flowers to the war. It still looks incredible, but it feels anti-epic instead of romantic or noble. A great film about the effect that violence can have on those on the margins, and a brilliant stab at the insanity that powers most wars. And it has one of the all-time great endings.
Rawlinson

< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/3/2011 12:47:09 AM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 7
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:42:31 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Equinox Flower (Ozu, 1958)
 
Revered master of classic Japanese cinema Yasujiro Ozu, after 30 years of directing films makes the change from black and white to colour in one of his most skilful and heartfelt family dramas. Ozu's career was founded on light comedies and throughout his later career, with nearly every film being shomin-geki (family drama) his delightful sense of comedy was often gently woven into the fabric of the more serious domestic affairs. This wonderful balance frames the protagonists of Equinox Flower in an affectionate light, accepting human foibles, not shying away from their impact of family relationships and not without an optimism for change.

Father of two daughters and marriage councillor Wataru openly encourages those seeking marriage the freedom to choose who they wish to marry, but his values are tested when one of his own daughters chooses herself a husband. When his relationship with his family is put in jeopardy by his traditional patriarchal values he must confront his hypocrisy and come to terms with the social changes of post World War II Japan.

Ozu's visual sense is here unrestrained. Not only is he meticulous in the composition of a scene and the framing of his beloved characters, he now has colour to play with. Knowing that Ozu isn't one to conform to popular style (his first sound film was made 5 years after Japan's first talkie), his first colour film here in 1958 proves he's an artist who knows what he wants, when he wants it. To highlight just one of Ozu's colour flourishes, he punctuates Equinox Flower's subdued brown/ green tones with splashes of scarlet red; a kettle or a vase for example. These subtle yet poignant touches underpin one of the film's main themes of a changing world in family life and act as a representation of piercing shock to Wataru's established tradition that must now make a difficult change.
Chris_scott01

_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 8
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:42:37 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Dark Water (Nakata, 2002)
 
Dark Water marks it out as a much more successful horror than Nakata's Ringu in the early stages of the film, establishing early and easily the characters and their relationships and putting the initial focus on them, rather than on the background of the ghost story. Hitomi Kuroki is solid as Yoshimi Matsubara, a devoted mother to her six-year-old, Ikuko (played by the adorable Rio Kanno) who is threatened with losing her in a custody battle with her unlikable husband. Unlike Reiko in Ring, who barely shows any kind of depth in her relationship with anyone and spends the majority of the time waffling on about the 'video curse', Yoshimi is a woman with wholly human concerns and a very tangible personality, and it's that that makes Dark Water infinitely more unnerving than Nakata's big breakthrough. It also helps that the film is less of a mystery and more of a straightforward ghost story, and Nakata uses his run-down apartment building setting to great effect,  Yoshimi's apartment acting as a bright island in the encroaching darkness. The film suffers from an unnecessary epilogue, some misguided scare sequences (the punching of the water tank a key offender), and Kuroki's tendency to overplay the creepiness of a sequence with hysterics, but it's still an interesting and creepy horror with some brilliant touches.

Pigeon Army


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 9
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:42:49 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005
 




Samurai Rebellion (Kobayashi, 1967)
 
From the outset, as the Matsudaira clan's finest swordsman Sasahara Isaburo (Mifune Toshiro) declares to his friend Asano (Nakadai Tatsuya) what happy peaceful times they are living in, you just know trouble's brewing.

Set in Japan's Edo period, Kobayashi Masaki's excellently directed film follows the story of Sasahara, an obedient and respected samurai, forced to accept the unreasonable demands of his daimyo (clan lord). Embarrassed by the actions of Ichi (Tsukasa Yôko), his concubine and the mother of his child, Lord Matsudaira insists on offloading her onto Sasahara's son, Yogoro (Go Kato). Despite the family's initial protestations, the couple develop a relationship and eventually have a child of their own. All seems well until Lord Matsudaira demands Ichi's return…

Mifune's character may be a highly skilled samurai, but this is not your usual chambara action flick – it's over 90 minutes in before a sword is drawn. The film's tension is wrung from the selfish whims of the daimyo, tearing rifts in the family of his vassal. The story features some great acting from the principal stars, as the political system of the Tokugawa era repeatedly clashes with the human story, and it can only end in a tumultuous finale.

Gram123.


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 10
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:42:58 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Gohatto (Oshima, 1999)
 
Set during Japan's Shogun era, this film looks at life in a samurai compound where young warriors are trained in swordfighting. A number of interpersonal conflicts are brewing in the training room, all centering around a handsome young samurai named Sozaburo Kano. The school's stern master can choose to intervene, or to let Kano decide his own path.

It would be very lazy of me to say that this is 'Brokeback Mountain' with Samurai, as well as doing it a great injustice, because although these comparisons are inevitable, they are misleading, because there is a whole lot more going on.

It also leads you up the garden path a bit. It does make you believe that from the off that this is a film about how Samurai dealt with gay relationships, but it soon hits you that this is a murder mystery in a very traditional sense, if just a little thin on the 'Mystery' part.

Good performances all around, Ryuhei Matsuda and (as expected) 'Beat' Takeshi are the stars of this piece and don't they half take advantage. Having said that, this is the most reigned in 'Beat' Takeshi performance I have seen to date, but it suits the film perfectly as he takes on the 'Detective' role with subtlety and control.

My only real fault is the running time. At 96 minutes it does feel a little rushed in places, because with a little more time and attention this could have been epic. To be fair, it did start out that way, Director Nagisa Oshima spent two thirds of the film on character development, I was really getting into the characters, they introduced the murder mystery element, then the film hits the hour mark and its a race to the finish. Such a shame, such a missed oppertunity. However, this is not to say that this ruins the film, far from it, there is still plenty more to get your teeth into.
Seenoevil



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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 11
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:43:09 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
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Tokyo Twilight (Ozu, 1957)
 
Perhaps appropriately named, Twilight is one of Ozu's darker films. Banker Sugiyama (Ryu) has brought up two daughters by himself, his still living wife having left the family many years before. The eldest (Hara) has recently returned to the house with her child – her marriage to an academic, who spends too much time drinking or with his students, is an unhappy one. The younger is a difficult child – caught up in gambling, she becomes convinced that the woman who runs a local parlour is, in fact, her missing mother.
 
Although much of Ozu's work examines inter-generational relationships within the domestic setting there are few characters in Ozu's canon quite so firmly a transgressive part of the younger generation as Akiko is here,  inhabiting a world more at home in, e.g., Naruse's works than Ozu's.  While some of Ozu's recurrent themes remain, with Takako's eventual resumption of her own role leaving the parent alone (the final scene in more than one of Ozu's earlier works) it was likely the dark vein of pessimism running through the younger daughter's story that contributed to the contemporary unpopularity of the film. Nowadays I think it's received with more admiration - it's a fascinating part of Ozu's filmography, examining character in a harsher light and placing the traditional roles, something so often reinforced in his work, under greater scrutiny and suggesting a great deal more unhappiness than was his wont.
Elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 12
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:43:15 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
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Onibaba (Shindo, 1964)

SPOILERS AHEAD

Synopsis: An old woman and her daughter-in-law murder Samurais and steal their belongings in order to survive.

Set in feudal Japan, Onibaba tells the story of a woman and her mother-in-law, left in poverty by the husband/son's leaving to fight in a war. The two women, bound together by dependence, murder passing Samurais and steal their belongings in order to survive, dumping the corpses in a nearby pit.

Their murder spree goes well until a neighbour returns from the war and reports that their man has been killed in battle. Out of grief and lust, the young woman begins an affair with the neighbour, much to the horror of her mother-in-law. Realising that the young woman could leave her to fend for herself, she comes up with a plan to terrify the young woman into staying, with the aid of a demonic mask taking from a slain Samurai. But things don't go according to plan.

Onibaba is basically a cautionary tale, based on a Buddhist fable, about the dangers of humans. The film has an incredibly dark atmosphere, the pit with the corpses becoming symbolic of the darkness in the souls of the two women. On a less symbolic level it can be seen as an example of the extremes people are driven to by desperation. It's also a deeply erotic and sensual tale of lust and raw sexuality.

The film is visually gorgeous, the stark area where the women live, surrounded by a sea of reeds, is one of the most hypnotic locations in cinema. The location adds to the intensity of the films, the isolation of the pit merely reinforcing the claustrophobia. It's difficult to imagine a better, or more hellish setting for a film about lost souls.

Rawlinson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 13
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 4/3/2011 10:43:31 PM   
elab49


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Gorgeous (Kok, 1999)

Bu (Shu Qi), a young woman finds a message in a bottle and leaves her little village to try and find the author. After discovering the letter was written by a gay man, she meets C.N. (Jackie Chan) a wealthy and good-natured businessman and the two begin to fall in love. Gorgeous has an odd mix of tones, too sugary at times, too wacky at other times, so it never really settles into being a great film. For a film that seeks to move away from Chan's traditional screen image, it's ironic that the times that it really works is when Chan is called upon to perform major fight scenes.  The film is never short of entertaining, but it also never makes the leap into outright brilliance.
Rawlinson



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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 14
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:29:17 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005





Kikujiro (Kitano, 1999)
 
One of Kitano Takeshi's quieter pieces, Kikujiro is a road trip movie following a 9 year old child and his ill-suited chaperone on a long journey across Japan. Masao, the young boy, has been raised by his grandmother, and in a summer with nothing to do, he is determined to track down the mother he's never known. Accompanying him is his neighbour – Kitano as the gruff, swearing, gambling, small-time thug (the titular Kikujiro, though he is simply addressed as "Mister").

The film is composed of chapters, each opening with a title card and photograph, like a scrap book or photo album. Having gambled away the money his wife gave him, the man and boy muddle their way through what would otherwise be a simple trip. Each chapter is a vignette, an event on the journey, as the pair come into contact with various odd characters. Added to this are the boy's "dream" sequences, colourful fantasy events featuring his new father figure and his friends.

In common with Kitano's earlier film, Sonatine we have Kitano's character and his motley crew of (adult) friends playing childish games, though here, it is for the entertainment of the boy, and the games are not tinged with quite the same undertones of violence. Kitano's character is not dissimilar to one of his gangster roles, but transported into a sweeter tale with comic moments.

For fans of his stark and violent yakuza films, Kikujiro may seem a little slow and overly sentimental, but the direction, cinematography and pacing is recognisably Kitano's. The film has a charm and quirky playfulness, beyond the likes of A Scene at the Sea, and Kitano's character displays a degree of warmth not usually seen in his other roles, whilst still retaining an element of menace and danger.

Gram123

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 15
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:29:33 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Once Upon A Time in China (Hark, 1991)

The legendary Wong Fei-hung, folk hero, doctor, martial arts expert, has been tackled on screen numerous times in many films that have become classics of Chinese cinema. Here Jet Li takes on the role and gives the greatest performance of his career, bringing a gravity and dignity to the role that many may not associate with martial arts cinema. The performance shows how wasted he's been since the move to American cinema. Here Wong Fei-hung is made the leader of a local militia, following concerns about the increasing western presence in the area. He finds himself colliding with American kidnappers, corrupt officials and criminal gangs in his attempts to defend his town.  OUATIC combines balletic action scenes with incredible cinematography and production design to create one of martial arts cinema's greatest achievements.

 
Rawlinson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 16
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:29:41 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
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Tokyo Drifter (Suzuki, 1966)

SPOILERS AHEAD

Synopsis: A Yakuza hitman roams Japan, awaiting his execution.

After the disbandment of the Kurata crime syndicate, Yakuza hitman Tetsu is sought out by Otsuka, a rival clan boss. He attempts to enlist Tetsu to join his clan but fails as Tetsu wants to remain loyal to his old boss. Fearing that Tetsu will upset one of his plans, Otsuka then decides to have him killed. Otsuka assigns his number one hitman, Viper, to kill him. Tetsu goes to see Umetani, an old ally of his boss. However, Kurata has betrayed Tetsu and ordered Umetani to kill him.

First thing to do when thinking about Tokyo Drifter is to ignore the plot description. It's been done a hundred times before and there's not much to it to entice a new viewer. If I was reading that for the first time I'd think the film sounded dull and routine. The appeal of Tokyo Drifter doesn't really lie in its narrative. Tokyo Drifter works because of its peculiar, almost western take on traditional themes of Yakuza loyalty and honour and because of its gloriously demented aesthetic.

Suzuki was always a director with an odd visual style, but here he pushed himself to new heights with the absurd and surreal visuals of Tokyo Drifter. It's filled with garish colours, Suzuki even goes as far as to colour-code the entire film. The film feels spontaneous, it feels playful, it certainly feels disorientating, especially on a first viewing, so much so that it seems somehow alien. At times it approaches an almost cartoonish level of excess and sometimes you even feel as if Suzuki is attempting to create iconic moments, especially when you think of Tetsu in his powder-blue suit, whistling the haunting theme song. I don't think it's a case of style over substance though. There's an intensity about Suzuki's films that feels like the director is challenging you, he's almost asking you to throw away pre-conceived ideas about plot and just experience film on an instinctual level.

Tokyo Drifter is a film that's could be very easy to see only in the context of either the films that influenced it or in terms of the directors it influenced. It's certainly easy to see the influence of westerns on the film, at times it almost feels like a western in Yakuza clothes. The film has the same highly choreographed style as Hollywood musicals. Of course Melville is another obvious influence, especially in terms of its lead being a moody, lonely gangster, but unlike Melville I do feel that Suzuki was just playing with the existential nature of the stereotype, not in an attempt to add false depth to his narrative, but just because he wanted to. Regardless of how muddled Tokyo Drifter may be as a piece of storytelling, it's a wonderfully subversive and intelligent piece of cinema and it's worth seeing.

Rawlinson

< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/3/2011 12:41:03 AM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 17
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:29:50 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




The Little Norse Prince (Takahata, 1968)

Anime from Toei (though often presented as a Ghibli film) and the film debut of director Takahata Isao, featuring, amongst others, Miyazaki Hayao as animator.

The Scandanavia-set story follows a young boy, Horusu (or Hols in other versions), who's village is destroyed by the demon Grunwald, forcing him to seek a new home. Though he finds a new village, the demon and his minions continue to rampage, and and Horisu is forced into a series of confrontations. He meets the sweet-voiced Hiratu (or Hilda) who turns out to be more than she seems.

This film was released some 16 years before Nausicaä and 20 years before Totoro, so as you'd expect, it doesn't really have much of the "typical" Ghibli style. In addition, the film went over budget and time, so the animation suffered slightly in places. Characters in the middle distance barely have any facial features, some scenes are made up of still shots (including the major actions scene of the village being overrun by wolves). Overall, the look of the characters is closer to Vikki the Viking than it is to Chihiro. The tale could almost be based on an exisiting Scandanavian myth, something like Beowulf, so it's interesting to learn that initially the story was going to be about the persecution of the Ainu natives of Japan by the descendents of the current Japanese inhabitants.

Gram123


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 18
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:29:55 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Days of Being Wild (Wong, 1990)

Set in the Hong Kong of the 60s, the film focuses on Yuddy (Leslie Cheung) a young man with women issues. Abandoned by his birth mother and raised by a prostitute, his surrogate mother refuses to help him find his real mother, despite his desperation. Meanwhile two different women fall for him, the introverted Maggie Cheung (Yuddy's initial flirtations with her make for the most interesting moments in the film.)  and the dizzy Carina Lau. Yuddy's disinterested attitude to them hurts both women, with Cheung turning into a rejected puppy. The film is beautifully acted and as visually entrancing as you'd expect from a Wong Kar Wai film. It's obviously an early work and it loses its way a little towards the ending, but it rivals Ashes of Time as WKW's best pre-ITMFL offering.

 
Rawlinson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 19
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:38:41 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Tokyo Godfathers (Kon, 2003)

Whether or not Kon is aware of Peter Kyne's 1913 novel The Three Godfathers, it's pretty clear he's seen the most famous adaptation by John Ford. The title of this Xmas themed movie that riffs on the idea of the three wise men makes that clear.

 
My 2nd favourite of Kon's animations - Rooting through rubbish a mismatched trio of homeless bums come across an abandoned baby girl. Alcoholic Gin and runaway teenager Miyuki are exasperated by their drag queen companion, Hana's, desire to keep the child and compromise on looking after her overnight. But circumstances change and the quest to discover the story of the baby's parents acts as a catalyst for each to examine the reasons for their present circumstances.

Tokyo Godfathers is not a Disney animation. Sentiment is sometimes savagely undercut by the social reality of the homeless, the story they discover and the occasionally coarse language on show. But it also has warmth and charm, a little magic and luck, a humane and inspirational tone in keeping with the tale of the innocent child and the time of year. It's a comedy, action movie, mystery and Xmas story all rolled into one. Some of the animation on show is quite stunning making wonderful use of the Tokyo cityscape and some almost realist touches that make it difficult to believe we're looking at artwork (e.g. the train in the snow).

I know this might not be a film many have come across, but it's a wonderful example of a Xmas film – one that succeeds on its own merits, but also makes full use of the traditional meaning of the season without resorting to cloying sentiment. Enjoy.

Elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 20
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:38:45 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005



 
Iron Monkey (Yuen, 1993)
 
Another in the long line of films about Wong Fei-hung, even if the great folk hero was just 12 years old in this one. Fei-hung and his father Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) are arrested while visiting a village in crisis. The poor are exploited by the rich and that's just how the governor likes it. The oppressed have found hope in a vigilante named Iron Monkey who has been causing chaos, attacking the town's wealthy and protecting the poor from harm. The corrupt Governor is unwilling to let this stand and blackmails Kei-ying into finding Iron Monkey. But what's the connection between Iron Monkey and the kindly village doctor? In terms of plotting it's all fairly obvious, but that doesn't really matter. The fun is in the remarkable fight scenes, expertly choreographed by the great Yuen Woo-ping. Elegant and fun, Iron Monkey is a charming throwback to traditional martial arts films.
 
Rawlinson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 21
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:38:52 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Brotherhood (Kang, 2004)

Set in the 50's, the tale of 2 brothers unwittingly drafted in to the Korean War.  An absolutely shockingly heartbreaking film as it follows the brothers devotion to each other and their change during their time in this mindless war.  The elder brother looking out for the younger one  as the younger one is the one upon  all hope is placed for  lifting their family out of poverty.  The elder brothers intentions are mistaken and the decline of their relationship is terrible to see.  An amazing film, well worth watching!
 
Hobbitonlass


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 22
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:38:56 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
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Project A (Chan, 1983)
 
Project A is the archetypal Jackie Chan film. Chan was already a megastar in Asia before this film having made the martial arts classics Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Drunken Master, Fearless Hyena and The Young Master, but Project A is the film that created the Jackie Chan film. It's the film that brought together everything we associate with classic Jackie Chan: the fast and frantic fight scenes mixed with genius physical comedy, amazing and imaginative use of props, stunning stunts and painful outtakes during the closing credits. This film is also the first film to star all the Three Dragons together – Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, the three having worked previously worked together in bits and pieces as stuntmen and supporting players for a decade. Here they play a trio who set out to take down some pirates in turn of the century Hong Kong. The wait was well worth it and their climatic fight scene with pirate leader Dick Wei is thrilling and spectacular. The centrepiece of the film though is a twenty minute chase sequence that raised the bar for comedic action set pieces and culminates with Jackie dropping from a four story clocktower – a stunt he did not once, not twice but thrice! From beginning to end Project A is sheer unpretentious fun made by some of the most talented performers of this kind the world has ever known at the top of their game. The sequel Project A Part II is also excellent.
Director's Cut.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 23
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 8:39:00 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
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The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Liu, 1978)
 
Directed by Lau Kar Leung, with a small role for his brother Lau Kar Wing and a starring role for "adoptive" brother Gordon Liu.

The main focus is on a extensive (45 minute) training session, as we follow the progress of San Te (Liu) from downtrodden student through 35 chambers (and 5 years) where he learns various skills, and finally to "Master Killer" who heads out on a recruitment drive and gets some revenge.
Enjoyable, excellently presented and showcasing some great martial arts

Gram123


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 24
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 9:12:41 PM   
elab49


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The Loyal 47 Ronin (Mizoguchi, 1941)
 
Lord Asano fails to bribe the corrupt Lord Kira, and as a result, Kira insults the younger man. Asano wounds Kira in revenge and is taken to court, but the court has ties to Kira and Asano is ordered to commit hara-kiri. His house is abolished and his samurai are turned to ronin (masterless samurai). Oishi, his most trusted samurai, decides to gather the fellow loyal to avenge the death of their master. It's Mizoguchi, so there's little need to state how elegant, thoughtful and beautiful this film is. The film was used by the Japanese government during WWII to show that dying for a noble cause is a honourable act, but Ronin isn't mere propaganda. The potential was there for this to be bloodthirsty and crass, instead it's dignified and graceful, with great importance placed on the characters, and it gives the viewer a great insight into the importance of honour in Japanese society.
 
Rawlinson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 25
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 9:12:44 PM   
elab49


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Cure (Kurosawa,1997)
SPOILERS

A spate of unusual murders with a common signature but committed by unconnected perpetrators are taking place in Tokyo. A detective, Takabe Kenichi (Yakusho Kôji), establishes a link - that a third party is influencing the murderers. Mamiya (Hagiwara Masato), a young man apparently suffering from amnesia, is linked with the one policeman's murder by his workmate. Whilst in custody, Mamiya engages in an odd battle of wills with Detective Takabe.

Kurosawa's film is an intriguing blend of genres, and is by no means a typical J-horror. It takes an unusual approach to the serial killer film, and is filled with insinuation, social commentary and unanswered questions.


Mamiya's short term memory loss is selective and not clearly defined - he frequently turns questions back on his interrogators, asking, "who are you?" - not to elicit a response of a name or a job title, but querying the individual to find their inner sense of self. At times, he appears to have some degree of supernatural power (control of water?), which is coupled with his compulsion to use hypnotic suggestion in order to "cure" people of their unresolved issues, repressed anger, suspicions, desire for vengeance.

A parallel thread of amnesia is evident in Takabe's wife, Fumie, (who's illness means she repeats routine tasks automatically and gets lost in familiar surroundings. However, unlike Mamiya's victims, Takabe (just about) has the ability to cope with the difficulties his wife's condition presents.
The final scenes stutter with fresh uncertainty - who or what is ultimately responsible? What are the implications of the old video and the faceless man, the monkey(s), the black water? Is the gramophone some Ringu-esque device? What exactly happened with psychologist Sakuma, Takabe Fumie, and ultimately, Detective Takabe himself?

The film's soundtrack adds much to the atmosphere, two pieces of music bookending the film (the first being unusually jolly!), but much of the rest either grinds and clicks along like a Silent Hill game, or else is simple background noises like wind, waves and machines. The two stars are very good in their respective roles, particularly Yakusho as Detective Takabe.

As I watched, I felt there were a couple of possible flaws centred around Takabe. First, his assumption of hypnosis was rather quick, with no other possibilities posited; second, how did he locate the broken water pipe, a section of which was used in the first murder; and third how did he find the barn at the end? Depending on what you infer from the changes in his character, I guess these could be explained away (his second scene in the dry cleaners - is that him beginning to lose his own memory?).

Ultimately I enjoyed the film very much, and it has rather stuck in my mind - I consider that to be a big positive. Makes me feel like re-watching Kairo, or seeking out more of Kurosawa's work.

Gram123




Yi Yi (Yang, 2000)
 
Edward Yang's final film is a brilliant dissection of a dysfunctional middle-class Taipei family. Starting their year with a wedding and ending it with a funeral, the family find themselves tested in various ways. At the shotgun marriage of Ah-Di, the grandmother suffers a stroke. Father N.J. also finds the potential for change when he is given the opportunity to renew a relationship with a childhood love. Mother Min-Min finds herself unable to cope with her mother's collapse. Meanwhile the children have their own changes to deal with,  the Son Yang-Yang has started contemplating reality and taking photos of the backs of people's heads to try and show them what they don't normally see and daughter Ting-Ting starts secretly dating her friends ex-boyfriend. Lack of communication is rife in the family, they've forgotten how to talk to each other or comfort each other in times of need and they don't seem to realise how close to the edge each other is until it's too late. As in Yang's greatest film, A Brighter Summer Day, Yi Yi has the scope of an epic, but one that's made incredibly intimate Yang was one of the greats at portraying the human condition on screen. The characters all have their own depths and nuances that make them feel complex and human, with the audience allowed to follow segments of their lives. It's a profound and eloquent piece, Yang is an artist who will be greatly missed. 
Rawlinson
 
Yi Yi is the story of a family in modern Taiwan – 2 school age children, a distressed mother and a dad who part-owns a technology company. It opens at the wedding of the wife's brother – an occasion that should be happy but is undermined by an Yvonne Fair moment as the groom's jilted long-term girlfriend turns up. The event is a catalyst for family change in two ways – the grandmother seemingly has a collapse as a result of the stress and the dad bumps into his first love.

It's noticeable that it is only really in the wedding scenes that you see most of the family together in shot – beyond that each seems to live their own disparate lives. While Yang seems to be presenting a normal family on the surface, his structure is telling an entirely different story and it's amazingly well done as it only creeps in gradually to make you realise that the nice dad, who takes his son for fast food and away from the little girls bullying him, is also really selfish, both in drifting at work and setting himself apart from his partners, and his decision to effectively dump the kids to head off to visit his ex. The mother is perceived as playing virtually no part – there is no real story strand for her as she heads up a contemplative mountain unable to deal with her mother's illness (although Elaine Jin as Min-Min provides one of the most powerful scenes in the film as she finally collapses emotionally). The children live their own lives with no-one seeming to know what they're doing or properly checking up on them – teenage Ting Ting is tormented with the thought that she might be partly responsible for her grandmother's condition and almost seems to be trying to punish herself, caught up with the disturbed beau of her next door neighbour. The absolutely adorable little Yang-Yang has his own world at school, inadvertently beginning to follow his father's path (it's an interesting school set-up with some kind of stick carrying tyrant who, and this is barely remarked upon again, seems to be a little too fond of his special monitor).

As usual this is a very strong ensemble piece, dissecting the strains of modern family life. It's beautifully filmed, with visual and aural links flowing between scenes and blending into other storylines (e.g. the contrasts between the shots reflected in large glass windows looking out to the cityscape), with the odd scene simply capturing the day and the sounds around the characters (one of my favourite bits of Yang is the very start of A Brighter Summer Day when you could just close your eyes and the sounds on screen just capture the title perfectly). There are strong performances all round, particularly impressive as neither child had apparently acted before although, as I said earlier, the most powerful scene is from the one character who has no storyline of her own, a woman completely convincingly unable to deal with everything life is throwing at her. Superb.

Elab49


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Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 26
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 5/3/2011 9:12:49 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




After Life (Koreeda, 1998)
 
This film had been pretty high up on my want list of DVDs, so I sky+'ed it a couple of months back.

The film itself seems to get a fair bit of praise. It had a documentary feel, particularly with the recently deceased talking directly to the camera-as-interviewer, and the hand-held camera as Shiori went to take her research photos.
Whilst I quite liked it, the slow pace and substantial length of the film (common to many Japanese dramas) and the subdued nature of most of the characters left me hoping the memory films would be quirky grandiose Gondry-esque affairs. Or there'd at least be some dramatic exit, some special effect as the characters passed into the next stage of their afterlife.
The scenes of them getting ready to film kind of kept this hope alive. But no such luck - the finale was as minimal and gentle as the rest of the film.

The scope of the film was also quite limited - very little in the way of questions about the hows and whys, circumstances of death, the reasons for this strange between-worlds rest stop, and the task they were given.

So, yes, I enjoyed the film, it had an interesting premise and some nice touches, occasional and understated flickers of humour, though it's not a film I'd re-watch much, and for that reason I'm glad I recorded it rather than buying the dvd.
In retrospect, I definitely think I preferred another of Koreeda's films, Nobody Knows

Gram123
 
Quite literally the after-life. It's a good original idea in which the stopgap between here and eternity is an institution (looking like an decaying high school) which interviews the newly dead to find their most treasured memory and recreate it, so the person has this one happy memory to take with them forever. The interviewers are the last bunch that entered limbo and who after recreating a memory for their interviewees pass on. It's a touching work, with many interviewees being non professional actors who (I think) are telling real memories. I could relate to it very well, I find myself inadvertently seeking to recreate favourite memories all the time, I assume many other people do to.
Chris Scott
 
 

 
Sword of Doom (Okamoto, 1966)
 
Chambara classic from Okamoto Kihachi. In the other Okamoto film I've seen, Kill!, Nakadai Tatsuya played the good guy, with humour and a world-weariness. Here, Nakadai's character, Ryunosuke, is much different, a grim and ultimately psychotic antagonist, though not completely inhuman and still worthy of a degree of sympathy.

The tone of the film is dark throughout, the cinematography is excellent, particularly the battle scene in heavy snow. The abrupt ending to the tale has been explained by an intended but never made sequel(s). However, one would expect that even if a sequel is expected, some plotlines would be tied up to some extent. The sublot of Omatsu, Hyoma and Shimada (Mifune) was left unresolved and I can see how it might irk some viewers.

However, that sublot does depend on the outcome of Ryunosuke's final (ongoing) scene, an enduring image where viewers (especially those unfamilar with the original story) are left to consider what the scene's outcome would be.
Gram123




Tropical Malady (Weerasethakul, 2004)

SPOILERS AHEAD

Synopsis: A soldier and a shy country boy start a love affair over the course of a summer.

On it's debut at Cannes, this incredible film was booed by the press, those who sat through the whole thing anyway. Despite it showing a complete lack of professionalism on their part, it goes a long way towards proving my theory that a large section of modern critics don't deserve to be doing the jobs they are. There's something incredibly crass about critics booing a film because it dares to be a little experimental. Even though I can understand any audience member finding themselves a little lost at times during Tropical Malady. But even if you do find the film confusing at times, Weerasethakul crafts an enthralling, mesmerizing, experimental film from a relatively simple story. Of course that's depending on your interpretation of the story, because like many films with an experimental side, the meaning of the narrative differs from person to person.

The plot begins with a group of soldiers in a field in Thailand. They've found a body and are posing with it and taking pictures of themselves gathered around the corpse. One of the group, Keng (Lomnoi) finds himself attracted to a young man, Tong,  (Kaewbuadee) who lives nearby with his family. Over the course of an idyllic summer they spend time together, going to a movie, the vet and a temple. Keng loves this pleasant but shy boy. But the boy vanishes at the end of the long summer. Then we begin the second half of the film where the story takes a real twist.

In the film's second half, we're introduced to a local folk tale about a shaman who could transform into a wild animal. Keng enters the jungle on the trail of this mythical creature in the form of a tiger that's been killing local livestock. Keng soon finds himself turning from hunter to hunted, and the tiger morphs into the form of Tong. In human form, the tiger is the same boy that he fell in love with, implying that maybe he is the ghost or spirit of the shaman. The jungle is a dreamlike space, where a tiger can become a man and it's possible to hold a conversation with a monkey.

On first glance the second story seems to have little to do with the first. But of course they really are the same story at heart. The first story is in the form of an idyllic but bittersweet love tale and the second is an . unpredictable spiritual journey, but they both tell the same tale of the pursuit of overwhelming love. Along the way bringing up age-old themes like man's relationship with the natural world and sexual desire within the culture you live in.

Tropical Malady is dreamlike, original, haunting, baffling, hypnotic, beautiful, and a complete mindfuck of a film. It's certainly not a film that ever deserves to be booed. Especially not by the same critics who rushed to praise Brokeback Mountain, a film that took a beautiful short story and stripped away all the passion. Tropical Malady is not only the film that Brokeback Mountain should have been, it's one of the best films of the last decade.
Rawlinson



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Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 27
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 6/3/2011 8:25:28 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Gojira (Godzilla) (Honda, 1954)

Like most special effects films of its time, Godzilla is very much a dated film. One can't help but suppress a giggle as a man in a plastic suit rampages around a miniature village, his suit's crazy googly-eyes and the oft-unconvincing superimposition of images onto live action shots looking cheesy this day in age. But where others of its kind had little to back up the spectacle and came across as hindered by an inherent cheesiness that was hard to shake (the original King Kong comes to mind), Godzilla doesn't fall prey to the kind of campy pulp those films did. Ishiro Honda's film may not be impeccably paced, brilliantly acted, superlatively written or beautifully shot, but everything about it works. The decent dialogue is delivered with an honest and sincere conviction by the capable cast (anchored by Takashi Shimura, a man who can do quiet melancholy in his sleep and does very good work here), and the film goes to great lengths to make Godzilla a genuine threat. He's not some sort of fuzzy, unconvincing teddy bear like King Kong is; aside from a few jarring moments, Godzilla is a genuinely imposing, menacing presence. Dimly lit and often shot from a distance or from below, his cacophonous roar and furiously destructive nature make him far more effective a monster than a man in a plastic suit should be. Indeed, when he rampages through Tokyo, it's riveting despite moments of cheesiness, because Godzilla is such a magnificently imposing beast. He also comes coupled with a well-meaning, well-conceived anti-nuclear message, being as he is awoken by nuclear bomb tests in his areas. Godzilla is a monster of the atom, and the aftermath of his rampage through Tokyo calls to mind the images of post-bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, children suffering radiation sickness and massive areas levelled. Godzilla is a chilling reminder of just how devastating nuclear war can be, and manages to be so despite being couched in an often-cheesy monster movie, and it's because of the sincerity of its convictions, the strength of its convictions, that it works better than it ever should.

Pigeon Army


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 28
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 6/3/2011 8:25:32 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




 
Once a Thief (Woo, 1991)

Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Cheung star as orphans adopted by a crime kingpin when young and turned into a trio of art thieves. An accident during a robbery leaves Chow in a wheelchair and the trio plot to take on one last mission before planning to retire. Coming between Bullet in the Head and Hard Boiled, Once a Thief is something of an oddity. Breezier than you might expect from a Woo film, it's silly and implausible, but so stylish that you don't care.  The cast seem to be having a great time and their sense of fun around all the slapstick is infectious. Ultimately, despite how much fun it might be, it's still minor Woo, more for dedicated fans than newcomers to his work.

Rawlinson


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 29
RE: Top 150 Films from East Asia, as voted by Empire Po... - 6/3/2011 8:25:35 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54616
Joined: 1/10/2005




Late Autumn (Ozu, 1960)

Ayako (Yoko Tsukasa) is the 24-year-old daughter of the widow Akiko (Setsuko Hara). It is time, according to the friends of Akiko’s widower Miwa (played by Shin Saburi, Nobuo Nakamura, and Ryuji Kita), for the young girl to get married, but she does not wish to abandon her lonely mother. Miwa’s old friends, then, hatch a plot to marry off both mother and daughter, and introduce a potential suitor, Goto (Keiji Sada), into Ayako’s life. Probably one of the lightest and most comedic of Yasujiro Ozu’s many, many dramatic films, “Late Autumn” – which is shot in colour and devoid of any camera movement whatsoever – wonderfully plays with the plotting of the three old men and watches it have a wild impact (sometimes a good one, sometimes quite a volatile one) on the lives of the two women, who are probably the film’s main characters. It seems quite deliberate, then, that “Late Autumn” has these men plot out the women’s lives in potentially comedic manners, when – in actual fact – it’s really not very funny at all that these males think that they have the right to decide these females’ fates. By doing this, Ozu is able to give us, as viewers, a slow burning realization that these men are not comedic characters at all, and – for all their honest intentions – are yet more examples of the domineering men who force women into submission that often populate Ozu’s films. I’m probably making it seem like a bit of a slog with oh-so-serious themes, but – all in all – “Late Autumn” is probably the lightest of the Ozu sound films that I’ve seen (although none of his films, really, have the witty, free-wheeling comic-ness of “I Was Born, But…” or “Tokyo Chorus”), and it’s probably the only one I’d recommend to a casual film fan with no interest in Japanese art house cinema. Ozu films from low, stationary angles and never encroaches on his characters’ lives, and it is yet another directional triumph for him, but it’s the performances of the two women which elevate the film to masterpiece level. Yoko Tsukasa is brilliant as a woman who has honed a deep-seeded immaturity and naivety through her unwillingness to progress in life, and Setsuko Hara – as always – is brilliant as the slightly melancholic but hopeful for her daughter’s future mother, delivering yet another powerful performance that is as powerful as it is self-contained.

Piles


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
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