challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

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challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby katsuben » Wed Feb 14, 2001 9:16 am

since i've participated in this message board there have been a lot of wild generalisations about "best" director's and so on. while not wanting to contribute to the spaghetti of such practices, it does stimulate a good level of discussion among us all. so i thought i'd stoop and craft a question slightly similar but with the expectations that we'll have a serious amount of argument and opinion about the matter. the question is: Which living filmmaker's last four films (with the most recent made no earlier than 1996) as a set of works have achieved the highest levels of cinematic expression in terms of a) Intensity of Effect, b) Complexity, c) Originality, and d) Unity of Effect. The filmmaker must have made at least 4 films to date. Now - I have to ponder who on earth I would choose. . . Hope it's fun.

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby katsuben » Wed Feb 14, 2001 9:56 am

Possible names I might like to throw into the basket at this early stage (not much thought put in yet): Hou Hsiao-hsien (Flowers of Shanghai, Goodbye South Goodbye, Good Men Good Women, The Puppetmaster), Shohei Imamura (Dr. Akagi, The Eel, Black Rain, Lord of the Brothels), Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Fallen Angels, Chungking Express), Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, The Idiots, Breaking the Waves, Europa), Tsai Ming-liang (The Hole, The River, Vive L'Amour, Rebels of the Neon God), Atom Egoyan (Felicia's Journey, The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, Calendar), Nikita Mikhalkov (The Barber of Siberia, Burnt by the Sun, Anna, Close to Eden), Abbas Kiarostami (The Wind Will Carry Us, Taste of Cherry, Through the Olive Trees, Life and Nothing More), Theo Angelopoulos (Eternity and a Day, Ulysses' Gaze, The Suspended Step of the Stork, Landscape in the Mist), Patrice Leconte (The Widow of Saint-Pierre, Girl on the Bridge, Half a Chance, Ridicule), Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother, Live Flesh, The Flower of My Secret, Kika), Zhang Yimou (The Road Home, Not One Less, Keep Cool, Shanghai Triad), etc! Or will someone like Ang Lee be favoured? Obviously the specifications don't fit somebody like Raul Ruiz which is unfortunate. However, if any director deserves to escape categorisation it should be Ruiz! Enjoy. . .or not.

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby nana » Thu Feb 15, 2001 6:03 pm

first of all, let me say i haven't had to much experience with comtemporary foreign films(i spent most of my $$ renting classic ozu, mizoguchi, bresson etc...i feel i should see them first), but here is my choice:

william chang/christopher doyle/wong kar-wai
1)in the mood for love-days of being wild
2)happy together
3)chungking express-fallen angel
4)ashes of time

i grouped in the mood... and days... together because i here they are very similiar(though i haven't seen in the mood)
also chungking... and fallen angel together because they had the same feel, plus it was suppose to be one movie.

i assume everyone know who chris doyle is(anyone seen away with words?). william chang is wong kar-wai's "art production director", but he is one of wong kar-wai closest
friend and collabarator. most if not all those amazing visuals shot by chris are envisioned/made by william chang not to mention the editings.

i can write about the great cinematography, art, and dialogues of a wong kar-wai films for hours i.e the tango dance lesson in happy together, the choppy story lines of ashes of time which all build up to an incredible climax with maggie cheung "the women" scene at the shore, the magnificent care-free faye wong in chungking, the wide angle experiment in fallen angels, the hynotic personal fave days of being wild 's dialogue...

but the main reason why i chose chris/william/kar-wai is
that they have influenced the hong kong cinema/culture(and giving me hope) oooooo soooooooo much!!!!
imagine living in hong kong, where 98% of the population is
chinese...which mean conformity, practicallity, and money are the only norm, then think of the films...

ashes of time: the most espensive hong kong movie made...not to mention it's two year production time, its metaphorical storyline, its set/cinematography...and its financial failure. not your average hong kong kung fu film!!!
i think its influence on hong kong's mentallity will last
in times to come.

happy together: think nicolas cage and tom cruise in a gay
hollywood film!! and remember...we are talking chinese...
open homosexuality? oh...william chang is openly gay.

faye wong's character in chungking...antithesis of your typical chinese. she works restaurant jobs to make just enough to travel, not to carefree in the modern
day "time is everything hong kong."

days of being wild's mood/mores...similar to oshima's cruel story of youth. theme and its other post modernity.

i've gone long enough...just see it for yourself if you haven't...but the big flaw of wong kar-wai's film is that it's too beautiful, too nostalgia, and where the hell do i meet someone like he zhiwu, faye, or su lizhen?

then i watch a hou hsiao hsien film or meet real people...
and i get disappointed because they are just not
tragic/romantic enough!

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby acquarello » Fri Feb 16, 2001 12:35 am

Personally, I was very pleased with Patrice Leconte's "The Girl on the Bridge" and think of the film more as a return to form after a series of uneven films after "Monsieur Hire". I thought that "Ridicule", "Parfum d'Yvonne" and "The Widow of St. Pierre" were good, at best.

One filmmaker whosw work always impresses me is Aleksandr Sokurov. I have only seen four of his films - "The Stone", "Oriental Elegy", "Mother and Son" and "Dolce" - but they are all exquisitely photographed, spare and haunting. Like Krzysztof Kieslowski, Hirokazu Kore-Eda and Abbas Kiarostami, Sokurov also began his career as a documentarian (and still continues to film documentaries), and I think that this innate concern for humanity is revealed through his films. Like Andrei Tarkovsky, his films are also deeply spiritual, although more secular and "grounded", and in this sense, has a certain immediacy of purpose to it.


Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby katsuben » Fri Feb 16, 2001 4:38 am

i have seen parts of 'Away with Words' and was not impressed at all. the framing was horrendous and the lighting lacked the striking contrast of colour temperatures signature to doyle's work. he was present to discuss his films and seemed quite pleased with his own directorial effort. he had, however, drunk three-quarters of a bottle of red wine by this stage so his judgement may have been slightly slurred. . .

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby firetree65 » Fri Feb 16, 2001 10:05 pm

Firstly, thanks to you all guys for your postings on this message board, especially you funkyduck. I'm in the process of discovering new films and your posts help a lot. I'm no longer at liberty in cinema hopping unlike when I was younger and my film interest has downgraded into collecting the latest DVD of past foreign film favorites. I'd rather listen to your fresh and more profound views than the usual generic stuff one gets from even the most seasoned critics. I've been shying away from Asian cinema because not knowing how great their films have become. One of the last ones I've seen was "Yellow Earth" and though I was thoroughly impressed, I thought the rest of their cinema was of the same stuff. Then I discovered Wong Kar-Wai (Happy Together & Chungking Express) and a whole new world of cinema was opened to me. I'll be eagerly looking for the other films on your posts. The feeling reminded me of the time I first discovered Antonioni and Rublev - two film makers who genuinely know what they're talking about. Antonioni's mindscape and Rublev's dumbfounding use of scripture in cinema are unparalleled anywhere. I'm keep an eye on Hao Siao Hsien and I'm excited already. I'll let you know how it goes. Cheers!

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby katsuben » Sat Feb 17, 2001 1:55 am

thanks! you just made my day. it's nice to know that my often strong assertions don't constantly offend people's sensibilities. i'm pleased to spread the word about Hou Hsiao-hsien whom i consider is the working, living director most in control of narrative rhythm and mise-en-scene. i also recommend Tsai Ming-liang's 'Hole'.

Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby acquarello » Sat Feb 17, 2001 2:18 pm

firetree65, since you have a DVD player, I recommend "The Flowers of Shanghai" Hong King DVD. It's currently the only Hou Hsiao Hsein film that out on DVD. The Chinese and English subtitles appear concurrently, and are non-removeable, but the transfer is very good, and the film itself is exquisite, delicate, and other wordly.

Some of the other hidden Asian film gems to watch out for on DVD, in addition to Tsai's "The Hole", is "Vive l'Amour, also from Tsai. I agree with funkyduck though, "The Hole" is a better introduction to Tsai's work. Edward Yang's "Yi Yi" is being released on 5/8 (personally, I thought that this should have been the Taiwanese entry at the Academy Awards instead of CTHD). There are also Chen Kaige's films ("The Emperor and the Assassin" and "Farewell my Concubine") but Chen is fairly well known internationally.

On the Hong Kong DVD side, there is Stanley Kwan's "Center Stage"; WKW's "Chyngking Express", "Ashes of Time" (better transfer than the Region 1 release), "Fallen Angels" and "In the Mood for Love"; Nagisa Oshima's "Gohatto"; Anh Dung Tran's "Xich lo" (or "Cyclo", from the director of "The Scent of Green Papaya").

On the VHS side, I highly recommend Tian Zhuangzhuang's "The Horse Thief" and "The Blue Kite" on Kino VHS.


Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby acquarello » Sat Feb 17, 2001 2:23 pm

Oops, forgot to recommend Hirokazu Kore-Eda's "Maborosi" and "After Life". I am infinitely fascinated by his interweaving of reality and fiction.

Incidentally, firetree65, I think that you meant to say Andrei Tarkovsky (the director) instead of Andrei Rublev (the film).


Re: challenge to initiate discussion/evaluation

Postby firetree65 » Sat Feb 17, 2001 3:06 pm

oops... my bad, I meant Tarkovsky on that. Thanks acquarello and funkyduck. Just now, I'm excited already. Thanks for your recommendations. I know I'm in good hands. The quality ratio on foreign films I've watched recently (and that means about a decade) is 3 good to 7 mediocre so my film interest downspiralled to lukewarm through the years. But then even the goods ones I would not consider gems when one thinks of the film revolution that erupted through the 50's and 60's. The best film maker I'd consider to date is Lars Von Trier but then I've only seen a couple of his films - "Breaking the Waves" and "Element of Crime". These films coming from Asia will definitely revive my passion in films. The 80's was a scarce decade considering the promise it showed early on. Where are Bertrand Tavernier and the Taviani brothers? Acquarello, you seem to have a large collection of film material or source. Do you know if "Amagi Pass", a Japanese film in the 80's is available in any format? I watched it in a film festival somewhere but lost track of it. Lately, not a few foreign film material dwelt on coming-of-age memoirs or the world in the eyes of children. Not that they are not of interest to me but don't we have enough of these - notwithstanding the same filmmaking technic employed. Are these films supposedly generated for the US market which seems to favor them? Funkyduck, I just ordered the Hole from Amazon. Will let you know of feedback.


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