So Long, My Son / 地久天长 [dìjiǔtiāncháng] (2019)
Director Wang Xiaoshuai
Screenplay A Mei, Wang Xiaoshuai
Producer Wang Hai, Han Jianv, Yang Wei, Wang Xiaoshuai, Liu Xuan
Cast Wang Jingchun, Yong Mei
The next screening of this film is on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
Two families each have a son born on the same day. Their sons become best friends but the death of one of the sons and a forced abortion before the incident due to China’s one child policy causes a rift between the two families with the pain of that tragedy lasting for decades.
At three hours long, one might hesitate to watch it but there is not a wasted frame in the entire film and it always remains engaging with good pacing. To me, It did not feel like three hours had past as I was engrossed by the story and the characters. The acting is great with lots of subtlety. This is a very naturalistic and realistic film about working class Chinese. There are a few threads that are all mostly resolved with an emotional ending although not all truths are told.
Continue reading “So Long, My Son – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019 [Recommended]”
Diner / ダイナー (2019)
Director Mika Ninagawa
Screenplay Hirohito Goto, Yoshikazu Sugiyama, Mika Ninagawa
Producer Takuya Ito, Morio Amagi
Cast Tatsuya Fujiwara, Tina Tamashiro, Shun Oguri
An abandoned young woman, Kanako, with no aim in life has the bad luck of becoming a waitress in a restaurant for assassins (because it ran out of waitresses who were killed for various service-related mistakes). This is based on a book and possibly the manga adaptation.
A kooky but mostly derivative movie. While it looks nice and has some stylized combat there are signs of a low budget here. The first sign is that the majority of the movie takes place in a single location, which is the restaurant. It is seen mostly empty with only Kanako & her harsh boss and head chef, Bombero. Despite there being multiple gang bosses, you only actually see the gang of one of the bosses. Two appear to have nobody and one only seems to have the one assassin. Because of this, the world of movie feels very small.
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Children of the Sea / 海獣の子供 [Kaijū no kodomo] (2019)
Director Ayumu Watanabe
Screenplay Daisuke Igarashi
Producer Eiko Tanaka
Cast Mana Ashida, Gorô Inagaki, Hiiro Ishibashi, Seishû Uragami
This is based on a manga. It is about a young girl with an innate connection to ocean animals. Thinking she’s alone, she meets a couple of boys who were raised in the ocean by dugongs. Besides that unconventional upbringing there is are other odd things about he boys and the mystery related to them goes far beyond their upbringing.
Visually and aurally the movie is quite amazing. With music composed by Joe Hisaishi, that also signals that the soundtrack will be excellent. Scenes of all the variety of sea creatures in the ocean to lush greenery and vibrant flower above ground, there’s no shortage of incredible art. There’s also fair amount of zoom effects and camera shifts which appear to be computer aided. The animation is very high quality overall.
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Another edition of Nouveau cinema is fast approaching and runs from October 9-20, 2019 in various cinemas such as Cinema du Parc, Cinematheque quebecoise, Cinema du musee, and Cineplex quartier latin. A listing of screenings of notable East Asian films will be followed by trailers.
Quebec based director Ky Nam Le Duc will have the world premier of his movie, “Canada”, and he along with the cast will be in attendance for a Q&A.
Nouveau cinema also has augmented reality or virtual reality works and one intriguing one is “East of the Rockies”, an interactive narrative written by author Joy Kogawa.
There will be three screenings Chinese movie “So Long, My Son” directed by Wang XiaoShuai, an award winning director who is part of the sixth generation of Chinese directors.
Fans of old school martial arts will certainly want to see the restorations of two films by legendary wuxia director King Hu that will be screening, “The Fate of Lee Khan” (1973) and “Raining in the Mountain” (1979). The latter is a North American premiere of a brand new restored version.
Japan as usual has many entries in this festival such as the world premiere of “Videophobia” directed by Daisuke Miyazaki whom along with actress Tomona Hirota will be in attendance. “Diner” is directed by Mika Ninagawa stars Tatsuya Fujiwara and Tina Tamashiro. “They Say Nothing Stays the Same” is the first film by well known actor Jo Odagiri and makes its North American premiere. “To the Ends of the Earth” is directed by award winning Kiyoshi Kurosawa and stars Atsuko Maeda. “37 Seconds” is the first film directed by Hikari.
There are also two animated features from Japan. “Pom Poko” is a lesser known Ghibli classic directed by Isao Takahata. “Children of the Sea” is a recent movie directed by Ayumu Watanabe.
Update Oct 10: A surprise announcement was just made and “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon Ho will have a screening.
Continue reading “Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 9-20, 2019”
Burning / 버닝 (2018)
Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Screenplay: Lee Chang-Dong, Oh Jung-mi
Cast: Jun Jong-seo, Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun
Next Screening on Sunday, Oct 14
In the city of Paju, a young man, Jong-su, who recently completed his military service encounters a childhood classmate, Hae-mi. She seems to like him but later starts dating a mysterious, affluent stranger named Ben whom she met on a trip. Jong-su soon suspects something sinister about Ben.
This is a slow-burn story with a bit of a thriller aspect. It focuses on its two young characters who are lower class without much of an idea what they will do with their lives. Youth unemployment is high and it’s probably not a coincidence that the antagonist is a rich person, a “Gatsby” as Jong-su calls him. There’ also a subplot with Jong-su’s dad who’s arrested for allegedly assaulting a government official.
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Ash is Purest White / 江湖儿女 (2018)
Director & Screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke
Cast: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Zheng Xu
Follows a couple involved in the underworld/jiang hu in the city of DaTong and eventually elsewhere over two decades. The tone of some trailers (like the one below) is quite misleading. This is a pensive, personal type of film without exciting action or high stakes conflict.
This isn’t a plot heavy movie. The pace is relaxed. It can feel a bit slow at times but it never lingers too long on a scene. Events happen without much explanation for them but they don’t feel contrived or forced. The focus is on the characters, specifically the main couple, a woman Qiao (Zhao Tao) and her boyfriend, Bin (Liao Fan) and more so on the former than the latter. They are involved in shady business but what sort of shady business they do is not revealed and simply implied. Their relationship changes over the course of the film and their emotions are often restrained. There’s a bit of a mysterious quality that is compelling rather than frustrating in its lack of specific detail. This relies heavily on good acting and both actors do their jobs well. This is definitely not an overwrought Hong Kong triad love story (as fun as those can be). But the tragedy here as love and jiang hu mix is more due to how the characters react to events and how they continue trying to survive rather than a seemingly inevitable suicide mission or last job set piece.
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This year’s Festival du nouveau cinema screens many intriguing films from around the world from October 3-14, 2018 at Cineplex Quartier Latin, Cinema du Parc and Imperial cinema. There is as usual a great selection of East Asian films. I won’t list them all but I will mention some of the ones I look forward to seeing the most.
Films from China have often been lacking at festivals (perhaps in part due to censorship) but this edition features Jia ZhangKe’s latest film, Ash is the Purest White starring his wife and muse Zhao Tao and Liao Fan, an actor’s who’s been in many good films that I’ve enjoyed. Other actors in the film include Feng Xiaogang and Xu Zheng which make up an impressive cast. Long Day’s Journey into the Night directed by Bi Gan stars Huang Jue and the ever compelling and beautiful actress Tang Wei.
From Japan, the festval brings Hirokazu Koreeda’s latest work Shoplifters, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It has an excellent cast including Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, and Kirin Kiki (her last film before she passed away in 2018). I’m biased since I’ve enjoyed many films by this director but I think this is a must-watch. Killing directed Shinya Tsukamoto stars Sosuke Ikematsu and Yu Aoi, both very good actors. Mamoru Hosoda’s latest animated film Mirai looks delightful for kids and adults. I’ve enjoyed past anime films by this director. There are also restored versions of older Japanese films from 60s, 70s & 80s which should intrigue those with a longer history of Japanese film viewing than myself.
The South Korea film I’m eager to see is Burning by Lee Chang Dong, whose previous film I saw was very engaging and thought provoking. This one stars Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo.
From France, there’s the animated film Funan directed by Denis Do about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It won the Crystal Prize for Best Feature Film at Annecy International Animated Festival.
There are also other films from South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.
Trailers after the jump.
Continue reading “Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 3-14, 2018”
Bangkok Nites (2016)
Director: Katsuya Tomita
Screenplay: Toranosuke Aizawa
Cast: Subenja Pongkorn
Review: Starting off with the main character, Luck (Subenja Pongkorn), a Thai prostitute looking outside a hotel room, we follow her and a Japanese man named Ozawa through the world of sex tourism in Thailand and the various Japanese men who come for the services. The film looks at how richer people from Japan exploit poorer ones in Thailand. It also explores if a real relationship can grow between a prostitute and a former client and the definition of “paradise.”
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