Author Topic: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 292459 times)

oldkid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2440 on: November 25, 2017, 11:36:18 AM »
It's two g's all the way back.  You guys just decided to drop one. :)

From Latin exaggeratus, past participle of exaggerare (“to heap up, increase, enlarge, magnify, amplify, exaggerate”), from ex (“out, up”) + aggerare (“to heap up”), from agger (“a pile, heap, mound, dike, mole, pier, etc.”), from aggerere, adgerere (“to bring together”), from ad (“to”) + gerere (“to carry”).
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2441 on: November 25, 2017, 11:43:46 AM »
It's two g's all the way back.  You guys just decided to drop one. :)

From Latin exaggeratus, past participle of exaggerare (“to heap up, increase, enlarge, magnify, amplify, exaggerate”), from ex (“out, up”) + aggerare (“to heap up”), from agger (“a pile, heap, mound, dike, mole, pier, etc.”), from aggerere, adgerere (“to bring together”), from ad (“to”) + gerere (“to carry”).

I see. So the answer to "who hurt you" was the Romans, of course.  ;D

Yes, yes, in actual truth it was us in the first place (Hastings #NeverForget), and in this particular case you stayed better Latinists than us. I'll withdraw my complaint, but can't answer to futher omissions of that g nonetheless.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 11:48:35 AM by Teproc »

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2442 on: December 17, 2017, 12:07:29 PM »


Hana-bi
(Takeshi Kitano, 1997)
Round 1 review by Gobman
Round 2 review by tinyholidays
Round 3 review by Bondo
Round 4 review by BlueVoid

               VS               


Ai qing wan sui / Vive l'Amour
(Tsai Ming-liang, 1994)
Round 1 review by edgarchaput
Round 2 review by BlueVoid
Round 3 review by Jared
Round 4 review by PeacefulAnarchy




Hana-bi


For some reason, I didn't expect Hana-bi to be so similar in tone to the other Kitano film I've seen, A Scene at the Sea. I thought a yakuza film might have touches of that quiet, contemplative tone here and there but not much more than that. The lesson is: never doubt auteurism, I guess.

From these two films I deduce Kitano is not very interested in plot. That's fine, but if that's the case, I don't see the point of the non-linear storytelling here: I found it very confusing, to the point that it took me forever to understand that Kitano was an ex-cop as in a retired cop, not a cop-turned-yakuza, and that his friends that get attacked are consequently also cops. Not that it matters at all really, but it little things like that made it harder for me to connect with the film. I did, eventually, but in the end I feel similarly about it and A Scene at the Sea: that was nice, I guess. Now this does have some pretty graphic violence (weirdly homoerotic violence too), but... I don't find that it adds much to the main attraction, which is the general contemplative, peaceful mood. I suppose there is something there in the juxtaposition of that mood and the violence, but I don't think the film really makes these connections: the editing generally seems haphazard when it deals with plot.

The other difference is Kitano acting in the main role. He has an interesting presence, very much in sync with his directorial style, and I think his scenes with his dying wife were the highlight of the film. He succeeds there, but not as much with Kitano's friend who takes up painting: I like the paintings themselves, but I think Joe Hisaishi's score doesn't fully work for me here. Hisaishi is a composer who's always on the verge of being too saccharine, and he steps over that line a few times here. I suppose his Ghibli work is helped by the fact that there's a remove inherent in animation, so the score working a little harder doesn't bother me, I love it there even.

I did enjoy the film overall, but the ending annoyed me tremendously. It's a snide bit of ambiguity for the sake of it that only detracts from the film's emotional resonance for me.


Vive l'Amour


This being my first Tsai, I didn't know exactly what to expect, except that it would be slow. And slow it is indeed, which I'm generally fine with, though Tsai really pushes it like few filmmakers I'm familiar with besides Tarkovsky. And, though I liked this film quite a bit, his style certainly doesn't have that quasi-mystical quality that fascinated me in Tarkovsky, and I was at times quite - dare I say it ? - bored.

I don't think Tsai is going for "fascinating" though, so that's alright. It seems that alienation is a favorite theme of his, and certainly it is the main idea here: the high concept of three people living in the same apartment without knowing it (at least initially) could feel to heavy-handed, but I think Tsai's stylistic commitment makes it work. It's both immersive and hard to focus on, what little (very little) dialogue there is is almost entirely meaningless: Tsai isn't satisfied with depicting alienation in the modern world, he wants you to experience it.

The risk with that approach is that the mind can wander off, which kind of ruins the point of the exercise, and that did happen to me more than a few times... but then there are standout scenes that pull you back in (just when you thought you were out, one might say). It can be a character using a watermelon as a kissing partner then a bowling ball, or two characters trying to sneak off from under a bed (I actually laughed out loud at that, which I do think is the intention), or a sex scene.

There are two sex scenes in the film, and they're both highlights. The first one is very sensual and makes you feel as a viewer the same thing the characters do, in the sense that it is a distraction from the dreariness of their lives that they desperately need. The second one encapsulates the film's whole point in a nutshell, the longing for human connection and complete inability to do anything about it. IN a sense, the final fifteen minutes are all that's needed for Tsai to make his point, but I suppose they might not be as effective as they are without the whole package.



Verdict: Sorry 1SO, I'm going with Vive l'Amour on this one.

1SO

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2443 on: December 17, 2017, 05:34:05 PM »
What's interesting is that reading the reviews I expected you to go the other way.

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2444 on: December 17, 2017, 05:43:17 PM »
Really ? I guess I must have undersold how great the great parts of (spoilering for pix) Vive l'Amour are. It was a harder watch, but not a particularly close decision.

Jared

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2445 on: December 18, 2017, 01:11:20 PM »
Probably the right choice in my opinion but I will be sorry to see either of these go. Both are probably in my top 10 of those remaining. Great reviews Teproc!

I need to get back on my matchup. I've been finishing up the TSPDT1000 (1 left!) and actually getting to the movie theaters regularly for the first time since the kids were born, but Brackets should always be movie watching priority number 1. At least until I've seen all the remaining films.


oldkid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2446 on: January 20, 2018, 12:32:48 AM »
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondo, 1995) v. Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar-Wai, 1990)

a. Whisper of the Heart
My initial observance of this pair of films is a result of failed expectations

It has been maybe six years since I first saw Whisper of the Heart, when I thought it was a Miyazaki film.  Well, I wasn't completely wrong.  He wrote the script, based on a manga.  But rather than a fantasy-laden speculative fiction, I received a light high school age romantic comedy with a touch of fantasy elements.  It was not the Miyazaki I was expecting, and I was gravely disappointed.

On top of this, the dubs on this film were awful.  They didn't match the tone of this more realistic comedy, imposing a rather cartoonish overlay on the frothy, realistic humor.

But I know that some on this forum love this film, so I really wanted to give it another chance, especially after watching and enjoying many other lighter Studio Ghibili fare.

In my reconsideration of this film, my first consideration is: Is it a romance or a coming of age film?   It has the semblance of a romantic comedy, but the exciting, climatic part is not the end where the two protagonists agree to marry someday, but when Shizuku works to finish the first draft of her novella, it is read and she is a writer.  It is about her growing as a person, which she establishes as a requirement before she gets into a romance.

This movie displays the wisdom of the young, which is wise, but strictly self-disciplined. Perhaps too strict in some ways.  Both of our protagonists have hard requirements for their lives, while the ideal parental figures recognize that they must be given room to grow and stand out of their way.  The sister wants to control, demand the proper path, but she is shown to have no wisdom.

As in all Miyazaki films, hard work is necessary to live a moral life.  But this work doesn’t have to follow a set path, nor obey all the societal requirements.  Miyazaki seems to always promote a quiet rebellion against the status quo, whether Ashitaka mediating in order to avoid war, Haku sneaking around the bathhouse helping Sen, or Howl's anti-war actions.  In this case, it is writing a novel instead of preparing for high school.   And if she doesn’t make it into high school?  That is the cost she willing to pay if it means that she becomes a more accomplished, unique, fulfilled person.

I love that Miyazaki focuses on and promotes the fulfillment of female protagonists.  It is more than worthy to set aside societal expectations to focus on their personal vision, that which they are called by their deepest soul to accomplish.  Sure, many men have this ambition, but it is rare for a child’s movie… a movie aimed at girls… any kind of movie.. to tackle this theme head on and to target girls.  Miyazaki is constantly telling girls, “You are important.  Not just what you can do for others.  Not just who you are to your family.  Not just who you are for your man.  You are important by yourself.  You are the one.  Your relationships are important, but first be you and find out who you are.  Do the hard work of accomplishing yourself before you do all the rest of your life.”  This is the theme of Whisper of the Heart.  And that is what makes it a glorious achievement, on top of the humor, the touches of fantasy, and the perpetual joy. 

For all that, I think that Whisper as a Miyazaki film is weaker Ghibli accomplishment.  Not because it isn’t a fantasy, but because the animation isn’t as sharp, the visuals aren’t as stunning.  It’s a good animated film, but with Ghibli I expect mastery and we don’t get that here.  That isn’t fair, but it is what I want.  This doesn’t mean that Whisper isn’t a wonderful entertainment that I would recommend to everyone.  But it won’t make the top of my Ghibli list, which contains some of the greatest films ever made.  Whisper is not one of the greatest films ever made.  It is simply great.

b. Days of Being Wild
I also stumbled a little due to my expectations coming to this Wong Kar Wai film.  WKW is a director of focus, of intense mood and tone, sometimes to an extreme degree.  This film seems perpetually distracted, as it has so many stories, so many tones it wants to explore that it can’t quite decide.  Is it a boy’s film, a relationship film, an action film, a drama?  It can’t even seem to settle on who the protagonist is, so we have two or three characters we root for.  And the end doesn’t seem to settle anything.  It is just there.

We have York, a man about town, who seduces another of our protagonists, Li-zhen.  But that relationship quickly dissolves, and we see clearly that they aren’t good for each other.  Frankly, York isn’t good for anyone.  He is too flighty, too self-centered.  Then we have a policeman who is the right man for someone, but we aren’t sure who.  It is as if the movie toys with our desires to see one or another pair of characters commit to each other.  Then the two male protagonists spend quite a bit of time together and intense situations occur, but that also seems to accomplish nothing. 

This is a film which is almost a masterpiece.  It is an uncut gem in which the greatness that is WKW can be seen, but only roughly.  We see all the pieces there, just undeveloped.  The cinematography is brilliant, but rough.  The characters are well drawn, but we don’t see enough of them.  The style and fashion sense is sharp.  The story is interesting, but unfocused.  This is all that WKW will be, in future films, but just isn’t, yet.

I love to think of this film as the first in a trilogy in which we see a director move from one stage to another.  If I had seen this one first, I don’t know that I would have moved to the others.  I will say that this film makes me want to see the other two again to see WKW’s world expand and his talent turn into a powerful, unforgettable beam.

c. Verdict
Whisper of the Heart clearly moves ahead, because while both films are brilliant diamonds-in-the-rough, Whisper shines so much more brightly.

"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Beavermoose

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2447 on: February 15, 2018, 09:25:20 PM »


The Road Home Zhang Yimou

A traditional story. A man returns to his hometown after his father's death and is told the story about how his parents meet. His father was a big city teacher who had been assigned to teach in this small village. The men must build the school and the women make the food, each of them hoping to get the teacher's attention with their meals. The main character's mother is played by a very young Zhang Ziyi.
It's a very pleasant movie set in a time where love was very simple. The rural mountain setting is shot beautifully during all seasons. The strength of the movie is Zhang Ziyi who is so emotive and such a pleasure to watch whenever she is on screen. You can't help but smile.



The Hole Tsai Ming-liang
Produced at the advent of the new millennium. The Hole commences as a bleak look at Taiwanese society. Set in a world where everyday is a dark rainy day and a strange disease seems to be affecting a large amount of the population causing them to start exhibiting pest like behavior, the movie follows two neighbors in an apartment complex the man upstairs and the woman downstairs. They both go along living their lonely daily lives until a plumber accidentally leaves a hole in their floor/ceiling.
I'd seen a more recent Tsai film and was not really that excited to watch 20 minute long still shots featuring alienated characters staring off into the distance however The Hole is quite a light-hearted movie and has one thing that makes it so much more enjoyable. At various points in the movie we are treated to these incredible musical fantasy sequences, the characters now dressed in 1940s costumes singing and dancing the classics of Grace Chang. They are disconnected from the rest of the movie yet still set in the same decrepit apartment complex. Perhaps there is hope for joy, in song and dance.

I think it really comes down to whether I'd rather watch Zhang Ziyi running through beautiful fields or Kuei-Mei Yang, dressed up and singing the wonderful songs of Grace Chang.
Both are good movies but The Hole moves on.

MartinTeller

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2448 on: February 15, 2018, 10:40:03 PM »
Woohoo!

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2449 on: February 16, 2018, 04:19:44 AM »
The winner does sound more interesting.

This all reminds me I gotta get to my own matchup. Soon...ish.