Failed — or at least distracted — actor Kinuta (Satoshi Tsumabuki) spends his days dismally holed up in front of a slot machine, a poster child for what we in Australia would call pokies addiction. Quiet and vulnerable, he is manipulated into taking a job he can’t turn down and joins a team of smugglers for the Yakuza: moving a truck full of things that need to pass unnoticed, often things that are suspiciously man-shaped.… (read more)
Opening this week in Australian cinemas, The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman is the cinematic debut for director Wuershan (a successful Beijing-based commercial director), and the second Chinese film with the backing of Fox International, after last year’s star-studded romance Hot Summer Days. It’s also got Doug Liman (director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith) on board as an executive producer, and “presenting” the film in the posters for Western markets, much like Quentin … (read more)
It’s no accident the cowboy and the masterless samurai are cinematic characters practically interchangeable in their native landscapes. The settling of the Americas and the breakdown of the Japanese feudal society were both frontiers, delineations into the brutal unknown where the individual ruled with right of might and lived by wits alone. The cowboy and the ronin both are forbidding, potentially dangerous and almost unreservedly tragic icons of independence in their respective worlds.
It is astride both these worlds that … (read more)
If Sakuran was a person, it would be the kind of person other people write songs about; quirky and vital and brave, marching to the beat of a drum no one else hears; charming and impossible to dislike, drawing everyone in like moths to a flame which is in the end gone far too soon.
Which sounds like a cliché (or a 70’s rock star) and in fact is. At first, Sakuran seems to be all about style and nothing … (read more)
Ninjas. Ninjas are cool; ninjas are deadly. They are masters of the hidden arts and dress in tight, black leather. They work in the shadows. They conk their heads on low hanging beams…
It’s somehow impossible to imagine that director Hiroyuki Nakano didn’t have his tongue planted at least a little in cheek during his Toei Studio 2001 film Red Shadow. In fact, it’s almost as if he couldn’t resist having just a little fun, and that light-heartedness might … (read more)
A current output of two feature films a year must feel like a holiday for workaholic director Miike Takashi, who pumped out an astonishing total of seven features in 2001 alone. If you do the maths — at that time in 2001, this equalled Wong Kar-wai’s output of feature films for his entire 13-year career since his first film in 1988. Despite his output, Takashi has not been content to stick to a particular genre and has tackled family dramas … (read more)