Sunday, June 03, 2007

Watched May 28 - June 3, 2007: Perrault, Jeong, Sai, Kaurismaki, Kon

Les Voitures d'eau / The River Schooners (Pierre Perrault, 1968)

The last installment of Perrault's documentary study of traditional folk life on the Ile au Coudres (an island in the St. Laurence River, north of the city of Quebec). Here he looks at the fading away of a mainstay of the island (and river) economy -- wooden schooners (in the process of being superseded by bigger craft, made of steel).

Goyangileul butaghae / Take Care of My Cat (JEONG Jae-eun, 2001)

The first Korean film I ever saw -- and still probably my favorite. BAE Doo-na heads a wonderful cast of actresses playing young women a year after their high school graduation. The cinematography here is extraordinary, not prettifying Inchon -- but making it seem remarkably real (and interesting).

Keimusho no naka / Doing Time (Yoichi Sai, 2002)

An interesting look inside a Japanese prison. The lead here (Tsutomu Yamazaki) is engaging as an old guy jailed due to loving firearms too much. While the details of daily life in the Japanese penal system may have been accurate, I (and my family) had some difficulties in finding the characters real.

Laitakaupungin valot / Lights in the Dusk (Aki Kaurismäki, 2006)

One of Kaurismaki's best films -- but mysteriously ignored by critics. I think this will finally get a (probably very limited) US release later this year. My prior review (from a one-off screening at the Harvard Film Archive) still stands:

However, I have upgraded pictures, courtesy of the Finnish DVD (with English subtitles -- though only Scandinavian language menus):

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)

Except for the undeniable visual flashiness Kon brings to his projects, this struck me as as unimaginative and empty. I will never understand the acclaim this guy gets for works that are far inferior to those of Abe and colleagues. Not even close to the level of accomplishment of Lain or Texhnolyze. I see very little virtue in his work beyond superficial glitter.

I went into this hoping I'd be at least as impressed with this as I was with Millennium Actress. I wasn't. Probably my last foray into Kon territory.


Dan Sallitt said...

Do you know Yoichi Sai's work at all outside of this film? Many years ago I saw his first film, Mosquito on the Tenth Floor, and thought it was interesting - but I never crossed paths with Sai again.

Michael Kerpan said...

I think the only other Sai film I've seen is his rather scary "Blood and Bone", featuring Kitano as an absolutely horrific patriarch of a Korean-Japanese household. I shy away from violence as a general rule -- but I suspect that this is a better film overall than the "Doing Time".