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Film Recommendations

  This Issue:
  • Asian Cinema

I enjoyed "Harold and Kumar" as much as the next guy (really!), but the films I'll recommend are the ones that profoundly moved me and stayed with me a long time.  Let me know if you enjoyed these films.

















Just Randomly:


here is the old list from the FAQ webpage that includes many of my favorite films:

  • The Son
  • Rosetta
  • The Eel
  • Henry Fool
  • Monsieur Hire
  • Le Boucher
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Oasis
  • No Regrets For Our Youth
  • After Life
  • Red Beard
  • Ikiru
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Dreamlife of Angels
  • Apu Trilogy
  • Brief Encounter
  • Close-Up
  • Ballad of Narayama
  • Kes
  • Barcelona
  • Big Lebowski
  • Office Space
  • Flirting With Disaster
  • Le Trou
  • A Man Escaped
  • Straight Time
  • Pickpocket
  • Los Olvidados
  • Winter Light
  • Yi-Yi
  • Tokyo Story
  • Fat City
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou.

  Film Recommendations 2

I'll give you a little taste of contemporary and classic Asian cinema, with (of course) an emphasis on the Japanese.



The New

Since the late 90's, everyone's been talking about the New Asian Cinema.  Well, I'm not a big fan of the Asian Hollywood-wannabes or the exploitation/horror genres, either.  Although it can be exciting to watch a film by Takashi Miike, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, or Ki-duk Kim, their works just don't stay with me. 

In contemporary Japan, there are two names everyone should know:  Hirokazu Kore-eda and  Shunji Iwai.  I've often thought that if I'd seen Iwai's teenage epic All About Lily Chou-Chou before I made Doki-Doki, mine might have turned out a very different film.  Kore-eda is hands down the national film poet.  Maborosi might be a little slow for some, but Afterlife and Nobody Knows are deeply affecting films that everyone can relate to.

Over in Korea, a young woman, Jae-eun Jeong, recently made an instant coming-of-age classic, Take Care Of My Cat.  And perhaps my favorite Korean film ever completely blew me away last year:  Oasis.  The main characters in Chang-Dong Lee's film are not saints by any means, but continue watching and you'll find one of the strangest, most moving endings around.

Of course the Taiwanese have their own masters.  Many film scholars swear by the stillness of Tsai Ming-Liang's films, but I'm still not able to appreciate what they have to offer.  Instead, I'll recommend Edward Yang's Yi-Yi, a modern epic about family ties and urban isolation in the new megalopolis (both Taipei and Tokyo).  Romantic, tragic, funny, beautiful.


The Old  
    When most people think of Akira Kurosawa, images of samurai come to mind.  But my favorites are his humanist dramas.  Ikiru is a life-changing film experience about a man who learns he's dying of cancer.  No sugar-coating here.  Red Beard is an historical drama that aims and succeeds at no less a goal than teaching us how to live.  This was my favorite film for several years and shows a master on top of his game.

These days my tastes run more toward Ozu.  I won't even begin to try to express what his films mean to me, but I would recommend watching any you can find.

Shohei Imamura is the last living Japanese master. (he was once Ozu's assistant).  Imamura wanted to make a radical departure from his master's serene representation of a sanitized Japan.  In contrast, Imamura depicts humanity in its rawness.  The slow but ultimately moving Ballad of Narayama (Palm D'Or at Cannes in 1983) is a very different take on the gap between the generations.  My favorite, The Eel, also won the Palm D'Or in 1997, and follows an ex-con as he tries to go straight in a small town.



The next issue will explore World Cinema in general.

Film Recommendations (first issue)