Shoplifters (2018)

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Imagine, if you will, a movie where nothing much happens. Now, imagine being captivated by it. Now imagine going away feeling like you just witnessed some of the best, most wonderful cinema you’ve seen in a while. A long while. That feeling? That’s the Kore-eda effect.

Okay, fine, it’s not like Hirokazu Kore-eda is the only director who has the deftness and sensitivity to take the mundane and make it watchable without going over the edge into sentimentality and melodrama, … (read more)

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The Third Murder (2017)

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You can call Hirokazu Kore-eda a lot of things: pretentious, navel-gazing, somnolent, repetitive, poetical and astute is just a handful. “Genre master” is most definitely not among them. Regardless of this minor hurdle, Kore-eda dips his toes into Lumet territory for his latest, The Third Murder. Even if you can conjure a marriage between Kore-eda’s signature deliberate, piercing, languid aesthetic and the conventional beats demanded of a murder mystery you wouldn’t be able to entirely capture the essence of … (read more)

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The Crimes That Bind (2018)

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(Ed: some might consider the following review to have some small spoilers. If you’re worried about that, go and catch it at the Japanese Film Festival and then come back and read our review!)

The mundane routine of actual police work has never been something that takes front and centre stage on our screens. From the days of the gumshoe detective, to the Lethal Weapons, to Miami Vice and NYPDCSINCIS, being a detective and hunting killers is exciting, dangerous, … (read more)

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Paradox (2017)

What a curious sort-of-series this is. Way back in 2005 SPL was heralded as a return to hard-hitting Hong Kong urban action, a description that has stood the test of time. After a ten year hiatus, SPL II: A Time for Consequences remixed the recipe with some returning cast members as different characters in a completely new story, with the notable fusion of Thai star Tony Jaa into a Hong Kong production with great results. Now we have Paradox — … (read more)

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Believer (2018)

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I have said previously that film remakes are often problematic. When I first heard that Johnnie To’s crime drama Drug War (2012) was to be remade as a South Korean production, I’ll admit it wasn’t joyous news (at least it stopped Hollywood from turning it into a Bourne movie). But a good trailer and a strong cast gave me some hope. The latter wasn’t misplaced and Believer is actually an excellent crime movie. Director Lee Hae-yeong has done a great … (read more)

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Your Name (2016)

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Stunning skyscapes. The beauty in everyday things and moments. Close ups of mobile phones. The contrast between light and shade. Separation, longing, regret. Yep, it’s a Makoto Shinkai movie.

Your Name concerns the growing relationship between high schoolers Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi), a girl from a lakeside township and Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a boy from bustling Tokyo. The catch is, they have never met. Each has what they first believe is a dream, walking a mile in the other’s shoes — … (read more)

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Little Big Soldier (2010)

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For a moment, around the time of The Forbidden Kingdom, it looked like Jackie Chan was going to start “acting his age”. This prospect had the satisfying feeling of things coming full circle, with the potential for Jackie to deliver some entertaining mentor roles like those Simon Yuen did for him decades ago in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. Things have not gone according to plan.

Given the downward trend of Jackie’s career of late, … (read more)

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Starburst: Icons of Chinese Cinema (Art Gallery of NSW)

The Art Gallery of NSW has just announced a series of ten (free!) screenings here in Sydney focusing on the careers of four of Chinese cinema’s leading actresses, from the 1930s to today: Ruan Lingyu, Anna May Wong, Maggie Cheung and Zhao Tao. Films screen every week from 20 June to 26 August.

From their blurb on the website:

In 1930s China, the term mingxing (bright star, 明星) captured the allure of a new public figure: the screen diva. … (read more)

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