Blog Archives

Maadadayo (1993)

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Here we have a sentimental Kurosawa picture about an elderly teacher who, courtesy of his wise (and somewhat cracking) observations of life and times, has gained the veneration of his doting students. The problem for me with this picture was that I didn’t find my old chap particularly likeable. He seemed to me more an idling opportunist with a high opinion of himself than an erudite poet-philosopher worthy of adoration.

The experience of watching Maadadayo will probably be far more … (read more)

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Invisible Waves (2005)

The second collaboration between Pen-ek Ratanaruang, cinematographer Chris Doyle, script writer Prabda Yoon and actor Tadanobu Asano after Last Life in the Universe is in my opinion an even better work, regardless of its technical faults, jarring changes in plot direction and stilted performances.

Simply as an extremely raw mood piece with astonishingly drawn out sequences devoid of elaborate fantasy, Invisible Waves was for me thoroughly captivating. When I think of it now, some months after viewing it for the … (read more)

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Exiled (2006)

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After following reckless and ruthless triad bosses across Hong Kong and China in Election and its sequel, Johnnie To returns to the perspective of the heroic underling as well as to the celebrated story dimension of 1999’s The Mission, one of the major highlights of his prolific career.

Exiled is neither a direct sequel or prequel to The Mission, but rather an interplay of similarities and divergences from the earlier film’s plot, themes, characters and stylistic approach. … (read more)

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Lupin the Third: Castle Of Cagliostro (1979)

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Before commencing a period of activity that – from Nausicaa to the present – has so far given us a dozen or so of the greatest animated movies we’re ever likely to see, Hayao Miyazaki and his future Studio Ghibli colleagues completed this second animated feature in the Lupin III franchise.

A thrills and spills adventure movie with a touch of romance, dash of intrigue and liberal spread of action, Castle of Cagliostro stands as great an achievement in a … (read more)

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The Quiet Duel (1949)

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It’s not every day you get to see a film focusing on the medical response to syphilis and the emotional torment of one of the disease’s sufferers.

I can’t say this particular absence in my film viewing habits to date particularly irks me. There’s only so much a spectator can tolerate when submitted to endless studies of a pent-up and remorseful Toshiro Mifune (infected with syphilis) pining in sexual frustration over his (spotless, timid, frail, i.e. stereotyped) wife to never … (read more)

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Rumbling Hearts (2006)

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I wasn’t sure what to make of this series after lounging through the first few minutes. The opening moments shared with the main characters seemed to me a tad bland; like something we’ve seen before. The set-up seems familiar: a lonely secondary school student lost in his thoughts while lying on top of one-tree hill and staring at the blue sky; a pair of girls, opposite from one another aside from their mutual attraction for the boy; a few hints … (read more)

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Branded To Kill (1967)

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Seijun Suzuki’s recent movies are beautiful to look at but make little narrative sense and seem to lack formal unity. By their end, films like Pistol Opera tend to lose the viewer in a mish-mash of colour, camera movement and choppy editing, with character, plot and theme long since discarded. If the style was more sophisticated, in the sense that a formal system was revealed up front and sustained throughout, there’d be fewer issues with the jettisoning of story elements. … (read more)

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20:30:40 (2004)

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Thankfully, 20:30:40 is not – as some marketing material has suggested to the contrary – a Sex in the City replicate with a Taipei backdrop. Unless you are the type of person that gets really upset when films about women are not also films that deconstruct feminism, try to ignore this kneejerk promotional tactic. I certainly wouldn’t climb over mountains to chase down a movie so advertised, but I might be inclined to set up a base camp, fire up … (read more)

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