Posted in Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Ash is Purest White – film review – Nouveau Cinema 2018

Ash is Purest White / 江湖儿女 (2018)
Director & Screenplay: Jia Zhang-Ke
Cast: Zhao Tao, Liao Fan, Zheng Xu

Synopsis

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.

Review

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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Posted in Art & Animation, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Festival du Nouveau Cinema – Oct 3-14, 2018

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 Kore-eda’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.

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Posted in Art & Animation, Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Da Hu Fa – 3D film review – Fantasia 2018

Da Hu Fa / 大护法 (2017)

DIRECTOR & WRITER: Busifan
CAST: Xiao Liansha, Tutehameng, Jin Shijie

Next screening: Tue July 24, 2018; 5:15 PM

Synopsis

A master fighter who looks like a red gourd goes to a strange village in search of a prince. The village is inhabited by odd looking humanoids who live in fear of their leader.

Review

The background and foreground art is very nice in this movie. It’s vibrant and colorful. It definitely looks like it took inspiration from classical Chinese paintings. The character designs are the opposite in that they’re fairly simple. Animation seemed not bad although it wasn’t something I focused on as I was definitely intrigued by the setting of the movie.

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Posted in *Recommended, Documentary, Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Trailers, Video

People’s Republic of Desire – film review – Fantasia 2018 [Recommended]

PeoplesrepublicofdesirePeople’s Republic of Desire (2018)

DIRECTOR & WRITER & PRODUCER & CINEMATOGRAPHER & EDITOR: Hao Wu
CAST: Jiang Congyong, Man Shen, Li Xianliang
SOUND DESIGNER: Ron Bochar
COMPOSER: Michael Tuller
ANIMATOR: Eric Jordan

Next screening: Fri July 20, 2018; 1:00 PM

Synopsis

In recent years advances in high-speed internet and streaming video have lead to social websites/platforms where anyone can live stream to an internet audience. But in China, the scope of live streaming has become hugely popular and mainstream, where seemingly less than talented people can find fame and fortune by broadcasting themselves online.

Review

This is a fascinating documentary into a world that not many outside of China would likely be familiar with. There are people of questionable talent who live stream and make money doing it. This may seem like nothing new to people familiar with something like Twitch in North America but while live streaming is still fairly niche here, it’s apparently ubiquitous in China.

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Posted in Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Fantasia 2018 – Final Wave

Fantasia International Film Festival has just announced the remaining films and the full screening schedule is now posted on their website. The entries in East Asian cinema continue to be intriguing. This year’s festival runs from July 12 to August 2, 2018. Its screenings take place at Concordia University’s downtown campus.

Donnie Yen’s new movie Big Brother directed by Ka-Wai Kam (he worked on the Ip Man films with Yen) will have its world premiere at Fantasia. Yen produces, stars and is also the action director and collaborated with action choreographer Kenji Tanigaki whom he had worked with previously on movies such as Special ID and Dragon. Tanigaki was the action director on the Rurouni Kenshin films.

Another world premiere comes from Japan, The Travelling Cat Chronicles directed by  Koichiro Miki, it’s an novel adaptation starring Sota Fukushi, Mitsuki Takahata, Yuko Takeuchi, and Alice Hirose.

A couple more Japanese novel adaptations will have their North American premieres. Takashi Miikie’s Laplace’s Witch, a mystery adapted from a novel and starring Sho Sakurai, Suzu Hirose, and Sota Fukushi. Gakuryu Ishii’s Punk Samurai Slash Down starring Go Ayano, Shota Sometani, and Tadanobu Asano.

Room Laundering starring Jo Odagiri and Elaiza Ikeda in a quirky comedy by first time director Kenji Katagiri makes its North American premiere.

From Korea, comes the Microhabitat, a first feature by Jeon Go-woon.

From China, comes Da Hu Fa directed by Busifan, the rare animated film from the mainland that will be shown in 3D and looks to be a unique entry to the genre.

Back to Japan, we have more North American premieres. Kasane directed by Yuichi Sato (who also directed Poison Berry in My Brain) stars Kyoko Yoshine, Tao Tsuchiya and Tadanobu Asano in a films where two actresses swap faces. Tornado Girl is a romcom directed by Hitoshi One and starring Satoshi Tsumabuki and Kiko Mizuhara.

Bodied directed by Joseph Kahn is about a grad student who becomes battle rapper. Dumbfoundead is one of his first opponents.

More East Asian films and films from other countries are mentioned in the full press release which you can find on ScreenAnarchy.

Trailers after the jump.

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Posted in Art & Animation, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Trailers, Video

Fantasia 2018 – 2nd wave

Fantasia will present a 35mm print of the 1989 Hong Kong classic The Blonde Fury with star Cynthia Rothrock in attendance, who rose to stardom in the Hong Kong action scene of the 80s.

The world premiere of Satoshi Miki’s film Louder!: Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp will take place at Fantasia. This musical comedy marks the return of the director from a five year film making hiatus.

The Canadian premiere of Searching stars John Cho in a film that uses a unique storytelling approach of computer screens and social media.

Southeast Asia is represented by two action films, the Vietnamese superhero click Loi Bao by Victor Vu from Vietnam (North American premiere) and the Filipino cops & drugs actioner Buybust by Erik Matti

Two more anime films were announced, the world premiere of the horror film, Aragne: Sign of Vermillion by Saku Sakamoto and the international premiere of Penguin Highway by Hiroyasu Ishida

The rare entry from China called People’s Republic of Desire by Hao Wu will have it’s Quebec premiere.

Other East Asian films include The Vanished by Lee Chang-Hee (North American premiere), Being Natural by Tadashi Nagayama, Amiko by Yoko Yamanaka, and One Cut of the Dead by Shunichiro Ueda.

See the full press release for all the other films.

Trailers after the jump

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Posted in *Recommended, Discussion

Major East Asian Languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean

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.

Continue reading “Major East Asian Languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean”