This was written some time in the past (like maybe a year ago) with updates over the course of my learning although I’ve been pretty lazy about it recently.
A comparison of the major East Asian languages of Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese & Korean
These are some initial thoughts from a native English speaker’s perspective. I am most experienced with learning Chinese (having taken courses and visited China). More recently I took some beginner Japanese classes and have read up on my own about Korean. I have learned a fair amount about the pronunciations but can only say really basic sentences in Japanese and nothing significant in Korean. I have read about the basic “correct” sentence structure and grammar that isn’t actually spoken (i.e. devoid of honorifics and conjugations). I have an idea of the different conjugations and how honorifics changes them.
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RIDM (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de montréal) is Montreal’s documentary festival that runs from November 9-19, 2017 at various venues. There are documentaries from all over the world. There are some East Asian documentaries from China, Singapore and Thailand at this year’s edition. There are at least a couple of documentaries with Montreal connections.
Montreal-based film production company GreenGround has a feature at the festival with two screenings, one with English subtitles (Nov 16) and one with French subtitles (Nov 12). It is called Taming the Horse, directed by Gu Tao. The director visits an old childhood friend in China who has become embittered by his life.
Antoine, directed by Laura Bari is a documentary from 2008 about a blind child name Antoine who lives in Montreal.
Not one but two women’s teams from China, Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays will be making their debut in the CWHL this season (2017-2018). They both play out of Shenzhen. KunLun Red Star is also the name of the Chinese men’s team who are part of the KHL. Vanke Rays are part of the Chinese ice hockey league. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out considering that China is not known for producing many hockey players, male or female. Apparently each team consists of approximately half Native Chinese players and half non-Chinese (mostly Canadian or American) players.
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Le festival du nouveau cinema from October 4-15, 2017 will be screening films from all over the world at various theaters in Montreal. There are some recent movies from Japan such as Beat Takeshi’s Outrage Coda (the final installment of the Outrage trilogy) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Before We Vanish. Films from the past such as Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django and several gangster films from the 60s by Seijun Suzuki. There’s also an intriguing stop motion animation short film by Takeshi Yashiro called Norman the Snowman. From South Korea there are a couple of recent Hong Sang Soo films and from the past, a Korean western by Kim Jee Woon. There’s a movie from Chinese born but Montreal based director Xiaodan He called Un Printemps d’ailleurs. There is also a Vietnamese horror movie called KFC.
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Fantasia 2017, total films seen: 22
This was an okay year overall. Last year wasn’t necessarily that much better but it had some super memorable screenings while this year there weren’t any films that wowed me or had the audience go super crazy. Granted, I missed some South Korean movies I really wanted to watch like A Taxi Driver and A Day. Only three films were labeled recommended this year. This isn’t the worst year as far as outright disliking films but the number of films that I enjoyed or liked a lot this year was lower than previous years. I am starting to wonder if my interest in East Asian cinema is waning.
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Mini reviews of Free and Easy, The House of the Disappeared, Shock Wave, The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue, Napping Princess, Love and Other Cults, Rage, Extraordinary Mission, Night is Short Walk On Girl.
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God of War (2017)
Directed by: Gordon Chan
Written by: Xiong Zhaozheng, Maria Wong, Frankie Tam, Wu Mengzhang
Cast: Vincent Zhao, Sammo Hung, Wan Qian, Wu Yue, Yasuaki Kurata
Review: Considering the generic sounding title, I hadn’t done much research on this movie and didn’t have any expectations. I wouldn’t even have seen if it weren’t for the fact it was between two movies I had planned to see. The film is a historical war movie that takes place during the Ming dynasty. It centers on a general named Qi Jiguang (Vincent Zhao) who’s tasked to defeat Japanese pirates after his predecessor commander Yu (Sammo Hung) fails to do so for months.
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Have a Nice Day / 好极了 / hǎojíle (2017)
Directed by: Liu Jian
Written by: Liu Jian
Cast: Zhu Changlong, Yang Siming, Ma Xiaofeng, Zheng Yi, Cao Kai
Review: This is an animated film by an independent studio. Despite its size and art history, China isn’t known for animation at all although I’m sure they have local stuff that caters to their own region that never gets released outside of the mainland. This is a crime film for adults that’s drawn in a realistic style. The plot is pretty simple and it takes place in a small empty looking town. A guy steals a bag of money and his boss is not pleased. In a series of events, other people discover the money and each one tries to keep it for themselves but ends up losing it.
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