Saturday, May 10, 2008

Unreported Films

For whatever reason, I have found writing up comments on films an almost impossible burden for the past few months. My backlog of undiscussed films simply grows and grows. So -- for what its worth -- I am going to simply list everything I've seen (or, at least, that I still remember seeing). Perhaps this will motivate me to get to work writing (and screen capturing) -- but probably not.

Without further ado ...

Topio stin omichli / Landscape in the Mist (Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1988)

Sad Vacation (Shinji Aoyama, 2007)

Dharmaga tongjoguro kan kkadalgun / Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (BAE Yong-kyun, 1989)

Dom na Trubnoy / The House on Trubnaya Street (Boris Barnet, 1928)

Shchedroye leto / Bountiful Summer (Boris Barnet, 1950)

Himala / Miracle (Ishmael Bernal, 1982)

Insiang (Lino Brocka, 1976)

Una mujer sin amor / A Woman Without Love (Luis Buñuel, 1952)

Uzak / Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002)

Les Raquetteurs / The Snowshoers (Gilles Groulx & Michel Brault, 1958)

La France sur un caillou / France on a Pebble (Gilles Groulx & Claude Fournier, 1960)

Normetal (Gilles Groulx, 1960)

Golden Gloves (Gilles Groulx, 1961)

Voir Miami / To See Miami (Gilles Groulx, 1962)

Un jeu si simple / A Game so Simple (Gilles Groulx, 1963)

Le Chat dans le sac / The Cat in the Bag (Gilles Groulx, 1964)

Où êtes-vous donc? / Where Are You Then? (Gilles Groulx, 1970)

Entre tu et vous (Gilles Groulx, 1970)

24 heures ou plus... (Gilles Groulx, 1977)

Santa Gertrudis, la première question sur le bonheur (Gilles Groulx, 1978)

Au pays de Zom (Gilles Groulx, 1983)

Yuki Yukite shingun / The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Kazuo Hara, 1987)

Where the Green Ants Dream (Werner Herzog, 1984)

Le Voyage du ballon rouge / Flight of the Red Balloon (HOU Hsiao Hsien, 2007)

Da zui xia / Come Drink With Me (King Hu, 1966)

Tau ban no hoi / Boat People (Ann Hui, 1982)

Hengbok / Happiness (HUR Jin-ho, 2007)

Kiku to Isamu / Kiku and Isamu (Tadashi Imai, 1959)

En to iu onna / A Woman Called En (Tadashi Imai, 1971)

Tai yang zhao chang sheng qi / The Sun Also Rises (JIANG Wen, 2007)

How To Meet a Perfect Neighbor (JO Nam-kook, 2007)

Subarashiki nichiyobi / One Wonderful Sunday (Akira Kurosawa, 1947)

Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Ikimono no kiroku / I Live in Fear / Record of a Living Being (Akira Kurosawa, 1955)

Emil und die Detektive / Emil and the Detectives (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1931)

Help! (Richard Lester, 1965)

Orizuru Osen / The Downfall of Osen (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1935)

Naniwa erejî / Osaka Elegy (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936)

Joyû Sumako no koi / The Love of Sumako the Actress (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1947)

Gion bayashi / Gion Festival Music / A Geisha (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)

Uasa no onna / The Woman in the Rumor (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

Chikamatsu monogatari / A Story from Chikamatsu / Crucified Lovers (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)

Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage / Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926)

Megane / Glasses (Naoko Ogigami, 2007)

Mushishi / Bugmaster (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 2006)

Saibogujiman kwenchana / I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (PARK Chan-wook, 2006)

Neoneun nae unmyeong / You Are My Sunshine (PARK Jin-pyo, 2005)

Ne touchez pas la hache / Don't Touch the Axe / The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, 2007)

Minato no nihon musume / Japanese Girls at the Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933)

Arigato-san / Mr. Thank You (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1936)

Anma to onna (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938)

Utsukushisa to kanashimi to / With Beauty and Sorrow (Masahiro Shinoda, 1965)

Ruten no ouhi / The Wandering Princess (Kinuyo Tanaka, 1960)

Sha Tan-Zi yu Zhou Shih-Nai /Royal Scoundrel (Johnnie To & CHIK Ki Yee, 1991)

Heung joh chow heung yau chow / Turn Left, Turn Right (Johnnie To & WAI Ka Fai, 2003)

Tie saam gok / Triangle (Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark and Johnnie To, 2007)

Sun taam / Mad Detective (Johnnie To & WAI Ka Fai, 2007)

Hu die fei / Linger (Johnnie To, 2008)

Das doppelte Lottchen / Two Times Lotte (Josef von Báky, 1950)

Nikai no tanin / The Stranger Upstairs (Yoji Yamada, 1961)

Tôku no sora ni kieta / Into the Faraway Sky (Isao Yukisada, 2007)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Asian Animation -- Two Cities Under Attack

McDull, prince de la bun (Toe Yuen, 2004)

McDull is an anthropomorphic piglet who lives with his mother in an older section of Hong Kong. His mother, believing in the importance of education, sends him to a rather peculiar kindergarten (staffed by humans but seemingly dedicated solely to the instruction of various other cute anthropomorphic creatures). McDull's mother (clearly a single parent) worries about finances -- but sees no reason why she should be any less able to write bestsellers for children than J. K. Rowling. Sadly, young McDull has little interest in hearing his mother's literary efforts recounted as bedtime stories, much preferring Harry Potter. Even sadder, although McDull doesn't realize it, the story he rejects (about McBing, the Prince de la Bun) is actually a (presumably rather embroidered) tale about his own absent father's adventures. Always thinking ahead, McDull's mother is scouting out a suitable family plot, visiting a lovely seaside, hillside cemetery somewhere in the new territories. All the while, the crowded but cozy neighborhood McDull and his mother inhabit is increasingly attracting the interest of urban renewers.

While the HK this film is accompanied by subtitles, one gets a sense that one really needs to be fluent in Cantonese to appreciate fully what one hears in this film. Verbal humor seems a central element that is not fully appreciable by me. I suspect that understanding Cantonese would not, however, render the story here more comprehensible -- as it seems (deliberately) highly random (or, one could say, surreal). Visually, the film is a bit of hodge podge -- mixing manipulated bits of live action footage and 3-D animation with a mostly more-traditional style of animation. I prefer the latter (all my screen shots belong to this category).

McDull began life as the the cousin of another piglet (called McMug) -- in a series of comics. He eventually became a star in his own right. McDull made it into the movies in the 2001 My Life as McDull. The present film was his second. A third film, McDull, the Alumni (one-third animated, two-thirds live action), came out in 2006. The present film is probably the easily way to make McDull's acquaintance, as the HK DVD of My Life as McDull is out of print and the third film is reputedly not as appealing as the first two.

More screen shots:

Tekon kinkurîto / Tekkonkinkreet (Michael Arias, 2006)

Another new animated film that has urban renewal as a major plot point. The city under attack here seems to be a partly-real and partly fantastic, slightly old-time Tokyo (here named Treasure Town). The protagonists are a couple of young orphans (self-adopted brothers) called Black and White who constitute a gang of two, dedicated to the preservation of their rather tawdry and run-down neighborhood. Their opponents? -- First the yakuza and then (scarier still) what seems to be an extra-terrestrial real estate developer (who commands various super-human minions). A couple of yakuza, one old and another young, however, sympathize with the boy's goals -- against the wishes of their boss.

Visually, this film is simply superb -- much more pleasing to me than the work of the much-hyped Satoshi Kon. This is my vision of dystopia since the extraordinary (critically ignored) 2003 series Texhnolyze. Surprisingly, this nostalgic look at a vanished and vanishing Tokyo was directed by an expatriate American, Michael Arias -- based on a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto. In making this, Arias (whose prior expertise was mainly in the technical side of the animation business) drew on the expertise of Studio 4°C (a "lesser-known" but respected anime production company).

While the primary focus here is on the visuals, I would note the voice acting is quite good, featuring a number of noted performers, including (among others) Kazunari Nimomiya, Yuu Aoi, Min Tanaka and Yusuke Isseya. I saw this on a very good-looking and sounding (English-subitled) Hong Kong DVD. There is now an American DVD as well -- but I don't know how this compares with the version I saw.

By the way, the nonsense-sounding name of the film (and manga) has a fairly simple explanation -- it is a childish mispronunciation of "tekkin konkuriito" (steel-reinforced concrete). More pictures (and that's what really counts here):