I have taken a break from doing the list. I have been going on an East Asian cinema binge. My main goal is to get out of Japan cinematically and see what else is out there.
So far I have watched 4 Chinese films, 1 Korean, 3 Vietnamese, 1 Singaporean, and 6 more Japanese ones.
Chinese: I watched one of Ruan Lingyu’s films: The Goddess. I had seen one before and this one wasn’t that great either, but her acting was. She was something special. It’s a shame she killed herself at 24 after her husband started claiming she had cheated on him. 2 more films were from the 5th generation: Horse Thief and The Story Of Qiu Ju. The last one was a surprise. I thought the Chinese government backing out of it’s national cinema was a death knell. Looking at what Zhang Yimou has been reduced to confirmed that for me: communist propaganda film Hero and having a moratorium put on his career via a lifetime achievement award. Imagine my surprise when I watched Unknown Pleasures by Zhang Ke Jia. It has teeth in it. How this film got by Chinese censors I don’t know. Probably the same censors who work for the Iranian government.
Korean: I watched Chunhyang by Kwon-taek Im. I know the story is a Korean classic and I know that it is being told in the traditional Korean way, but it was lousy. I wanted to shoot the screaming Korean narrator. The only other Korean film I have seen is Oldboy, which was great minus the tongue cutting out sequence. Hopefully, I can find something good.
Vietnamese: I watched Cyclo, Buffalo Boy, and Three Seasons. The last two were run of the mill give me a best picture Oscar films. The first was something special. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any other films by Anh Hung Tran and it looks like his career has tanked since the mid-90’s.
Singaporean: It’s in English! What a pleasant surprise to find another nation outside of the US that makes English films. I watched a fun movie called That’s The Way I Like It. Basic story about a Bruce Lee fanatic who thinks John Travolta is coming out of Saturday Night Fever to help him win a dance contest so that he can buy a motorcycle, but ends up using the money to get his brother a sex change. Very conventional. Was it great, no. Was it fun, yes.
Japanese: I am trying to stay away from the typical here. I watched Cruel Story Of Youth, Crazed Fruit, and Intentions Of Murder: Japanese New Wave. A recent film called Nobody Knows, which redefined free range parenting. Wife To Be Sacrificed, a wonderful Nikkatsu Roman Porno with Naomi Tani. Finally, a Hiroshi Shimizu film called Japanese Girls At The Harbor. I didn’t know there were prewar Japanese directors who were at the height of the their craft.
I am looking forward to some more Shimizu, Nikkatsu Noir, 6th generation Chinese cinema, 5th generation Chinese cinema, a Filipino film called Insiang, and films from the rest of East Asia that I can get my hands on.