Author Topic: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 292434 times)

Jared

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2320 on: January 19, 2017, 12:22:58 PM »
Cageman seems to be the ultimate dark horse in his bracket. I didn't think it'd make it out of round one, based on reputation and the version quality available to us back then, yet here it is advancing to the final bracket of 32!

Not just advancing over easy match-ups either. It's knocked out a Yimou Zhang (my bad) and a Triple H movie! Having advanced both of Sandy's movies, I agree with this verdict myself.

BlueVoid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2321 on: January 21, 2017, 11:47:12 PM »
Made in Hong Kong VS. Sleeping Man



Fruit Chan is an interesting director. He is lauded as being crucial to Hong Kong independent cinema, and 'Made in Hong Kong' is the main reason why. It is the film that launched him to fame, being made with non-actors, a shoe-string budget and left over stock footage. Having been an AD for years prior, this was his big break, and it's no wonder that this is what triggered his success and elevated to be one of Hong Kong's most promising film makers.

It tells the story of Moon, who is an aimless youth in Hong Kong. He spends most of his days hanging around public spaces like the basketball courts with his mentally challenged friend Sylvester. His family life is falling apart and he can't hold a job and is turning to a the life of crime. He works part time for a Triad group collecting debts. It's during one of his assignments that he meets Ping, who he falls for and he starts to rethink his purpose in life.

This feels like a movie made from the directors passion. It's packed with little tangents and unique moments. The camera is restless, almost constantly moving. It felt like Chan had been building up shots he wanted to put in a movie for years and it all came spilling out here. Sometimes to success and sometimes it came off messy and erratic. He tries to put style into every frame, and for the most part is successful.

It's a very uneven movie. There are some moments of sheer brilliance, and other times amateurish. The overall mood conveyed is what makes the movie work. The feeling of abandonment and angst is consistent even when the film making falters. In Fruit Chan's Hong Kong, its the youth who rule. Adults are flaky, selfish, dishonest and cowardly. The young people are shown in charge, being bold and taking charge. Even if it means they go out before their time, at least they have convictions.

This was the first movie in the '1997 Trilogy', and I have also seen the last, "Little Cheung". I specifically did not like Chan's directing style or choices in that film and it ruined it for me. While his erratic camera, naturalistic style and overly vulgar imagery are present in both, they work to much more success here. It's not without its significant flaws, but it never let up in its pace and left an overall impression of being significant.






I fell in love with this movie in the first 15 minutes. It is absolutely beautiful and poetic. Scenes are immaculately framed, and the lighting and movements are stylized. How did I not know about this gem before? Not too far in there is a wonderful scene of a woman singing in a bar and the lights go out. It's almost at this exact moment where the movie comes to a screeching halt. I sat bored through the rest of it and realized why it's not a beloved classic.

There is almost no plot to speak of. It takes place in an unspecified small town in Japan nestled between large mountains and sea. At some point before the movie begins a man has gone into a coma. People the town are fascinated with him and care for him and gossip about him. Thats it. That's the entire movie.

I want to highlight and underscore how gorgeous the movie is. The camera is almost entirely static except for a couple of scenes midway through. Each shot is meticulously constructed and framed with stunning lighting. The actors move incredibly slowly and speak incredibly slowly. The film is more a visual poem then anything. An incredibly slow, low energy poem.

The static shots are drawn out with little happening. Even when someone does talk, it's not about anything interesting or even insightful. This struck me. If the movie was to be lyrical could there at least be meaningful dialog. I cannot stress enough the lack of anything happening. Locations are not set up, characters are hardly introduced and their relationships not established. It was incredibly challenging to stay focused.

I feel like a film can be anything it wants to be. I once watched an experimental film that was a literally a static shot of a room over the course of time. This movie is not much more interesting. Shots in this film could be used in lectures about framing and composition, but it doesn't lead to it being a meaningful experience.



Verdict: Both movies have a very distinct style, but completely opposite approach. Where one is lethargic and stationary, the other frenetic and the camera almost never stop moving. One had a somewhat cohesive point and one I nodded off a couple times watching. It's quite possible I'm missing the hidden genius in 'Sleeping Man', but I do see the obvious appeal in Made in Hong Kong, and it moves on.
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Jared

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2322 on: January 22, 2017, 12:39:23 PM »
Nice write ups. Happy with your choice too, I felt bad about picking against that movie but it was going against Tsai in my matchup

BlueVoid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2323 on: January 22, 2017, 03:51:53 PM »
Nice write ups. Happy with your choice too, I felt bad about picking against that movie but it was going against Tsai in my matchup

I would have made the same choice. :)
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smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2324 on: January 22, 2017, 04:00:41 PM »
I don't mind seeing Sleeping Man put to sleep. Nice write up. :)

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2325 on: February 04, 2017, 05:21:51 PM »

Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian / A Brighter Summer Day
(Edward Yang, 1991)
Round 1 review by worm@work
Round 2 review by Melvil
Round 3 review by 1SO
Round 3 resurrection by pixote

               VS               

M/Other
(Nobuhiro Suwa, 1999)
Round 1 review by edgarchaput
Round 2 review by worm@work
Round 3 review by Bondo




A Brighter Summer Day


A Brighter Summer Day is an ambitious film, seemingly trying to paint a full picture of Taiwanese society in the 60s, with a true ensemble cast of dozens over the course of its 4-hour runtime. While it does have a lead character - especially in its second half - it's not shy on seemingly random detours focusing on other characters.

My problem with this film was that I didn't particularly care about any of them. I'm not entirely sure why, either... they're all relatively complex, fully realized, and the acting is generally decent. I think my problem lies in Yang's direction : he certainly has an eye for composition and framing, and the film is generally interesting to look at... but there's a coldness to it, a certain flatness, an indifference. I'd describe this film as 4 hours of things happening, and none of them really stand out aside from one near the end. There's a whole section involving a character who has been talked about a lot and finally appears, and clearly he's supposed to stand out : the way he's dressed, the way he acts... but the film doesn't really follow the script, it stays firmly on the ground when it should be lifting off, especially given the things that happen with this character. This pattern is repeated again and again throughout the film, with plot developments and character evolutions being severly undercut by the direction and the editing, to the point where I have to assume it's intentional, and somewhat infurating.

In the end this strikes me as a deeply misanthropic film, and I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to. Maybe it's just because of the runtime : any film that long is going to get worse as it gets along if it doesn't grab you, and I did feel a growing resentment towards certain characters asthe film went along... but it's not just that : most of them are just unpleasant people. As a result, when the film turns tragic, I could only appreciate that from a distance : I was glad to see that the film had a certain purpose, but I was too far gone for it to redeem the film in my eyes.



M/Other


From the first few frames alone, it's clear that M/Other fits in the naturalistic side of Japanese cinema, with Suwa clearly following in Ozu's footsteps, creating his own, distinct brand of quiet naturalism. When I had to review Tokyo Story, I kept coming back to the idea that it worked as much as a sociological case study observing Japanese society at a crucial time, and I can certainly say the same thing here, though the core conflict being explored here certainly isn't unique to Japan.

The heavy-handed title might indicate that the film focuses on the child in this situation, having to deal with this new mother figure, but the film is much more focused on the woman in question. It is a very simple situation that is extraordinarily complex emotionally for all involved, without even accounting for the actual mother who stays entirely off-screen. Where A Brighter Summer Day seeks to depict society by having a wide ensemble, this is a tight, focused film : three characters, you don't need more to explore the vast issue of family life in contemporary Japan.

Anything I can say about its themes will feel reductive, because this is a very deep, complex, and subtle film. It doesn't judge its characters, it doesn't point to easy solutions, it simple observes and lets the actors do the work. Instead I'll point out another detail which reminded me of Ozu (and specifically Tokyo Story) : almost all the conversations between the couple feature apologies, a sure sign of people who care for each other but aren't quite comfortable with the situation they're in.

Ultimately, this is a "small" film, which does overstay its welcome a bit and lack the kind of transcendental quality that would let me love it rather than like it (to continue the Tokyo Story parallel, that would be Setsuko Hara's breakdown at the end of that film), but it is a very solid, affecting drama with excellent performances.



Verdict: Obviously M/Other is advancing, which means A Brighter Summer Day is out of the bracket... I suppose that's one of the features of this bracket : no film is entirely safe from getting unlucky pairings... sorry, Yang fans. Worth noting that M/Other has garnered its share of enthusiastic responses in this bracket as well though.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 05:31:46 PM by Teproc »

BlueVoid

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2326 on: February 04, 2017, 06:17:21 PM »
Nicely done Teproc! I knew this outcome was coming from your Letterboxd activity-- I was looking forward to the writeups.

I almost took 'A Brighter Summer Day' for a matchup. From your reaction, I'm glad I didn't!
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smirnoff

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2327 on: February 05, 2017, 12:14:12 AM »
I trust this verdict! :)

Teproc

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2328 on: February 05, 2017, 02:50:01 AM »
Thanks guys. I suspect others will be less pleased, but I'll take the support I can get. :)

Jared

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Re: 1990s Far East Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2329 on: February 05, 2017, 01:23:15 PM »
Thanks guys. I suspect others will be less pleased, but I'll take the support I can get. :)

It's ok to be wrong when the write ups are so good.  :)

Not that I'd know....haven't seen M/Other yet though, so I'm looking forward to catching up with it now.