Author Topic: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 332170 times)

Melvil

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1110 on: June 09, 2010, 11:57:01 AM »
Sorry that matchup was kinda underwhelming, Melvil.  Here's Rosenbaum's takes on Mr. Zhao and Blush, if you're interested.  Those two reviews are pretty much responsible for those films' being in the bracket.  Curious if they improve your opinion of either film.

Thanks for those links. Regarding Mr. Zhao, It's strange to me that he briefly mentions the awkward storytelling of the third act, but goes on to ignore it when talking about the realism the movie achieves. I couldn't ignore it. A lot of what he says is true, and is what I was enjoying about the earlier portions of the movie. But since I wasn't satisfied with how it followed through on the characters, I never considered it to reach the heights he suggests.

His review of Blush is interesting. He keeps talking about how Chinese it is, and maybe that's why I didn't like it more (I did already enjoy it). It's wholly possible I don't have the perspective to fully appreciate all the implications of the story. I'm curious, are there any other films from female filmmakers in the second round?

I've been wanting to see Pom Poko, so I'm glad to hear it's sticking around for the time being.

pixote

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1111 on: June 09, 2010, 12:07:11 PM »
I'm curious, are there any other films from female filmmakers in the second round?

Autumn Moon and Farewell China (Clara Law), Moe no suzaku (Naomi Kawase), Summer Snow (Ann Hui), and Tonight Nobody Goes Home (Sylvia Chang) are the only ones I'm sure of.

Naomi Kawase, Sylvia Chang, and Ann Hui all still have one matchup pending as well.

pixote
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 07:19:28 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Melvil

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1112 on: June 09, 2010, 12:20:55 PM »
Very cool, more than I expected.

Bill Thompson

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1113 on: June 09, 2010, 12:45:05 PM »
I'm hoping to get my hands on Farewell China in the second round, because I really liked Autumn Moon and I think on a second viewing that it could be a film I love. But, Netflix doesn't have it and as stupid of a rule as it may be I don't write reviews of movies anymore unless I watch it from a hard copy of some sort.

Verite

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1114 on: June 10, 2010, 09:17:33 AM »



The Personals (1998, Chen Kuo-fu)

Before pixote proposed the matchup that I ended up agreeing to take, I already had my eye on The Personals as half of my matchup if I was going to participate. So I felt like that was a good sign.  The DVD cover had a blurb calling this film reminiscent of a Hal Hartley film in terms of depicting sexual (or was it romantic?) relationships which got me even more interested.  First off, no, I don't get the Hartley association at all.

The film is about Du Jia-zhen (a very good Rene Liu) and her encounters with men (and a woman) who answer her personal ad looking for someone to date.  (She later changes the ad to look for a husband).  The film dramatizes many of her meetings for about 90% of the film which got tedious for me.  Among some of the people she met with: a guitar importer, a mentally challenged artist and his mother, furniture manufacturer, and teacher. All but three, I think, of the meetings are comic.  Sadly, I found very little of the jokes funny or amusing.  But there were a few LOL moments like her meeting with a guy who likes to drink and who after being asked by Miss Wu (she used that last name for all of her meetings) what else he likes to do besides drink replied that he loves to watch porn.  He then recounted a scene from a film and after which he said:



At some point in the film she runs into her former college professor and they talk about her love life, and their talk over the course of a few hours (I think) was interspersed throughout the film.  Throughout the film, Du Jia-zhen also calls up her ex and talks to his answering machine leaving messages that are along the lines of her convos with her professor.  The phone calls are a contrast in tone to the personal ad meetings.  Here she's melancholic as hinted at in the bathroom mirror scene pictured above.  While watching the film, it took a surprising turn for me with about 15 minutes remaining.  But a story point that, in retrospect, isn't a dramatic shift in tone as it felt like while watching the film.

The direction was competent with a few choices that I thought were pretty weak.  Cutaway insert shots were employed rather inconsistently.  I'm curious to find out what Chen's rationale was in using them when he did because I don't see any reason for not using them elsewhere other than time and tediousness.  So I felt like maybe scrapping them was the best choice.  The ending sequence was a really, really nice touch, though.  Rene Liu does a lot with her face in the film's numerous one-shots.  Her performance was very good overall, but some moments were really excellent.  The best thing about the film was how cute I thought she was:



which helped me get interested again whenever my interest died down.

The other film in my matchup is Siao Yu.  My write-up for that is coming in a few days as is my verdict.

edit: Continued here.  —pix
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 03:21:49 AM by Verite »
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tinyholidays

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1115 on: June 10, 2010, 10:24:27 AM »


Kitchen

1997. Written and directed by Yo Him. Based on a novel by Banana Yoshimoto. Hong Kong.

Kitchen consists of beautiful, rain-soaked images played under voice-over. Check it out:








Basically, here's what's happening:  Aggie's grandma dies, and she goes catatonic. So Louie and his mom take her in and nurse her back to normalcy. And there's some twists. All the pretty stuff is cut against some comic relief scenes that look really ugly in comparison and didn't really work for me.


That's Louie. He thinks he looks good.

Although Kitchen deals with some pretty heavy material, I didn't feel much emotional connection to the characters and barely reacted to the events that take place within. But it's a solid film, and I'd definitely watch other stuff directed by Ho Yim or shot by Hang-Sang Poon. I was never bored looking at it.

--------------------



Intimates

1997. Directed by Chi Leung Cheung. Hong Kong.

Remember the framing device of Titanic? Not dissimilar here. Young woman helps old woman on trip, old woman flashes back to her old life. Intimates covers a lot of territory, from 90s Hong Kong to pre-cultural revolution China. It's kind of like an Amy Tan novel in that way.




The China section, as you can see, is way prettier. It's color-enriched by memory.


Twists happen here too, so I don't want to give a lot away. There are some scenes in the middle of this movie that got visceral reactions from me. I was, like, gasping and clutching a pillow over my face during one.

-----

Verdict:  While Kitchen is probably more interesting filmmaking, I give this match-up to Intimates for actually making me care about the characters.

smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1116 on: June 10, 2010, 11:15:17 AM »
Good write ups guys.

Part of what I'm looking forward to most about round 2 is having these round 1 verdicts to fall back on, and having someone around who has seen the film. :)

Melvil

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1117 on: June 10, 2010, 12:43:16 PM »
Awesome stuff! Something about Intimates appeals to me, I'm glad to hear it move on. "color-enriched by memory". :D

Schmer, looking forward to the other half of your matchup. I'm sorry The Personals wasn't better (or at least more consistent). Visually it looks pretty striking, and it sounds like it had a lot more potential.

pixote

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1118 on: June 10, 2010, 03:20:16 PM »
A decent film, one that I’m sure many of you can like if you one day choose to watch-oh, I’m sorry, experience.

lol, I don't remember reading this line the first time around.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Bondo

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1119 on: June 10, 2010, 11:01:48 PM »
After Life (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1998)

Wow! I suppose for starters I should say that out of the nine pairings I’ve tackled between the two brackets (including my pending 80s US entry), this is the first where I was truly excited about both entries. Both seem to deal thematically with something spiritual or supernatural about the afterlife, which is something that interests me (I think of my interest in films like Defending Your Life and What Dreams May Come to name two). Moonlight Boy seems cut from the same cloth as Sixth Sense and naturally, given its title, After Life deals with exactly that.

After a brief set-up, you get one incredible shot looking out from the entryway of a building through an open door with nothing but fog on the other side and people coming in and checking in. This sets a brilliant sense of place that makes me think that maybe this would be a live-action version of the bathhouse in Spirited Away. Of course, what we soon learn is that this place is where people come for a week when they die in order to select one memory to remember for eternity, which is then recreated.

What follows is an exploration of memory. An exploration of what in life we pick out as that one moment that rises above all others (surprisingly not always sex, or perhaps given the film’s desire not to become a porn, shockingly never sex). It explores the way in which our memories falter as recordings of what happened but rather are imperfect or embellished. This hits home especially given that they apparently have access to actual video of people’s lives, yet they are to recreate them anyway.

Anyway, After Life is gentle yet incredibly deep. It marks my second great discovery in the bracket, and only three pairings in no less. It definitely makes me want to visit Koreeda’s work further, starting by adding Still Walking to my 200X marathon.

IMDB link



IMDB link
Moonlight Boy (Wei-Yen Yu, 1993)

If I had to pick a favorite going into this pairing, it would be Moonlight Boy if only because I was eager to use it in a pairing before After Life fell into place as the natural complement. Obviously having watched Still Life first puts a lot of pressure on Moonlight Boy.

Speaking of Still Walking, that is what the Moonlight Boy here seems to do for half the film. He is the most boring spirit ever. Mostly he is walking from stalking family members at one place or another, only occasionally engaging them (in dreams?), usually when his sister is bathing or something.

It isn’t exactly a thriller but it isn’t exactly not a thriller…I mean, occasionally you see Munch face. If this one had a tagline, it might be “I see animated people.” For an inexplicable reason, a couple characters are animated. I’m not sure if the director just said, “why the hell not” and decided to throw it in because this film is supposed to be weird. I’m not a big fan of that kind of decision making (I’m looking at you Lynch).

The film does take a turn going into the third act that does pay off reasonably well and make some of the pacing and oddities worthwhile. I had really hoped going into this that it might be one where I liked both enough that I would be demanding resurrection. I can’t go that far certainly, though this is probably my favorite of the films I’ve handed a losing verdict to.

Verdict: After Life is a special film and would have defeated a stronger film than Moonlight Boy, which is solid in its own right. Koreeda's film is certainly one I think can go far in the bracket.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 11:23:30 PM by Bondo »