Thursday, March 08, 2007

Watched March 5-11, 2007

Le temps retrouvé / Time Regained (Raoul Ruiz, 1999)

One watching of this is insufficient to follow Proust's protagonist's wanderings through his memories -- but Ruiz's presentation is so lovely that simply floating along the top of the narrative stream is rewarding. There are so many wonderful cast members, it seems unfair to single any out.

Some more pictures:

Baak nin hiu gap / Love For All Seasons (Johnnie To & WAI Ka-fai, 2003)

The "silliest" To film I've seen yet. A martial arts teacher and mountain top healer, lovely (and goofy) Sammi Cheng, needs to experience heartbreak in order to master a defensive techique needed to protect herself and her little sisters from her deranged big sister (LI Bingbing). Playboy extraordinaire, Louis Koo, who comes to her retreat for treatment seems just the guy to break her heart (as he does to all the women he meets), but Cheng finds that getting her heart truly broken isn't all that easy.

Fu zi / After This Our Exile (Patrick Tam, 2006)

A Hong Kong family drama set in an expatriate community in Malaysia. Aaron Kwok doesn't bring in much cash for the family coffers -- and gambles most of what he earns away. Charlie Yeung, the mother of his young son (Gouw Ian Iskandar) is getting tired of supporting the family. After an abortive first try, she manages to flee -- leaving Kwok and son to fend for themselves. The two spiral down the social drain. Lovely cinematography by Mark LEE Ping-bin. One problem for me -- while Kwok's performance in the central role is excellent -- his character is quite unappealing, mistreating his wife, son and post-abandonment girl friend (Kelly Lin). Nonetheless -- interesting film in a distinctive setting.

Yureru / Sway (Miwa Nishikawa, 2006)

A younger son (Jo Odagiri) returns to his hometown for the funeral of his mother. While there, he causes strife between his older brother (Teruyuki Kagawa) and his sort-of girl friend (Yoko Maki) -- who has long had a crush on the younger brother -- and a desire to move to Tokyo with him. When the trio goes on an outing to a local gorge, Kagawa and Maki get into an argument on a rickety suspension bridge -- and she falls to her death. The bulk of the film involves an examination of what happened. How much did Odagiri see and hear -- and will he help or hurt his (comparatively dull and timorous) brother. Well filmed by Hiroshi Takase (one of whose last films this was).

Seung sing / Confession of Pain (LAU Wai Keung & MAK Siu Fai, 2006)

A new film by the team that made Infernal Affairs. Tony Leung and Tony Kaneshiro are old police buddies, but Kaneshiro quit the force after the suicide of his girl friend. When Leung's father-in-law is brutally murdered, Leung's wife (XU Jinglei) hires Kaneshiro to investigate, as she is disatisfied with the police investigation. Along the way, Kaneshiro drafts bar hostess SHU Qi to help. Meanwhile, XU is feeling increasingly threatened by a stalker.

The strategy pursued by this film is very un-Hollywood-like -- one knows quite early who was behind the murder of the father-in-law -- and one senses that Xu's character herself has a pretty good idea herself. Nonetheless, the film maintains a sense of suspense (or ias it just a sort of dread) quite well. Despite an interesting enough story, and quite good performances, not much to show off in terms of screen shots. (This crew does not have the visual flair of Johnnie To and his team).

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