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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ā fēi zhèng zhuàn (Days of Being Wild)

Let me share my spontaneous reaction to this Wong Kar-wai movie before I continue reading about it. When watching I had the same feeling I got when watching In The Mood of Love and 2046, and I told myself that this absolutely looks and feels like those movies. Then I relaxed and continued to enjoy this amazing movie.

Now I’m reading about this 1991 movie that most serious movie historians relate as the first installment to In The Mood of Love and 2046, with some viewers even finding relation in the dialogue to suggest that the three movies are sort of an informal trilogy and well, there are many commonalities, starting with all are set in Hong Kong of the 60’s, the fantastic music and well perhaps only for me, the presence of Tony Leung (which of course I did recognize him) even if was just for a few minutes at the end.

I tend to have very good memory and I still remember (will never forget) ITMFL and 2046 (have seen them many times) so, yes I do find them totally related; still, I will do one experiment I’ll watch the three in order and one after the other, not only will I have a very nice afternoon of excellent cinema, but will be able to confirm what I feel today.

So enough, let’s get into this movie. For those interested the literal translations is “The True Story of Ah Fei” and tells in my opinion about a man that the elder women in his life have treat him badly and consequently he seduces women to treat them badly. It is about fear of commitment but also about his indifference and how this affects the main characters of this story. But also is about the impossibility of love; about searching your own identity. Actually is about many things that I imagine the director left to viewers imagination and creativity when seeing one of his most outstanding sequence of what looks like every day life scenes of many characters that converge into encounters with one man, Yuddy (Leslie Cheung).

Starring the most popular Hong Kong stars of that moment you will find here excellent performances by Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and of course the cameo with Tony Leung.

With the most outstanding cinematography (Wong Kar-wai was really free in this movie) this is one cinema masterpiece that every serious cinema cinephile has to see. The movie conquered most major awards at the 1991 Hong Kong Film Awards and had other awards and nominations at other Asian Awards and Festivals.

Just read this excerpt from an article about this movie.
Wong Kar-wai creates a spare and elegant film on chance, fate, and unrequited longing in Days of Being Wild. Using a meticulously crafted mise-en-scene of damp streets, soaking summer rains, green reflected city lights, and saturated blue hues of the evening sky, Wong creates a pervasive, melancholic atmosphere to reflect each characters' wandering and sense of incompletion: Yuddy's elusive search for his biological mother; Su Lizhen and Fung-Ying's continued attachment to the emotionally vacuous Yuddy; the police officer's unresolved feelings for Su Lizhen; Zeb's devotion to Mimi. The indelible repeated image of the blue tinted landscape of the Filipino countryside from a slow moving train, accompanied by a lackadaisical, tropical melody, further reinforces Yuddy's complacency and lack of direction. Inevitably, it is Yuddy's own inertia that, not only leads to his own slow self-destruction, but contaminates the soul of each passing acquaintance with a sense of unrequited longing and ache of despair.

There are many serious articles in the net about this movie and Wong Kar-wai and if you feel like reading more I suggest you check an essay by Peter Brunette that is here. Also suggest you read an article called Meditations on Loss: A Framework for the Films of Won Kar-wai an Analytical Essay by Anthony Leung that appeared on the January 1999 issue of Asian Cult Cinema and is here. I could go on and on writing about this movie, but I have to stop or this will become unreadable.

Absolutely not for all audiences, as his experimentally-conceived narrative could leave viewers dumbfounded, just as it happened when first was released in 1991 where, according to Won Kar-wai own words “the spectators even threw things at the screen”. Yes this film was a commercial failure that made producers withdraw their support for what was supposed to be the second part of this movie that will follow from the last scene with Tony Leung. I just think that those producers, if still alive, probably are regretting their short vision.

This is a must be seen movie for those that are crazy about Wong Kar-wai films (like me) and if possible, I suggest the viewing of the three movies together in a WKw marathon.


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Monday, December 17, 2007

My Blueberry Nights

This Wong Kar-wai movie is at the same time different and similar to his movies. His first English speaking language movie has many scenes with his codes and style, like the crossing trains, the neon lights, the dream like settings, the camera angles, the framing, close-ups, and the use of color codes which makes it similar to all his movies. But I think that he wasn’t able to translate his style to a different culture and make an interesting and mesmerizing movie as he always does.

I had a hard time watching this movie. I even stop it and try to see it another day. Finally yesterday I was able to see it until the end. This has never happen before to me with a Wong Kar-wai movie.

The movie tells the story of Elizabeth (Norah Jones) that after a romance breakup leaves NYC to travel around the USA in a road trip that allows her to meet some characters and in the end she comes back to NYC to close her soul-searching journey. In each place she stops there is a story happening where she seems to be more an observer -that learns something along the way- than a participator and makes these two stories more like segments than integral part of the total story. But this is not new to Kar-wai movies as there are a few intertwined or not trilogies.

Most critics mention that it was inspired/related to In the Mood For Love, but according to Wong Kar-wai is inspired in a 2000 short that he thought to integrate to In The Mood for Love but he didn’t. He says than more than a (short) remake is a continuation where the short became the beginning of My Blueberry Nights and the story was developed to become a road movie from NYC into Memphis and across the USA.

I tried to imagine this movie with Chinese actors and settings and obviously the movie became more what I’m used to see from this director and I was able to see it until the end. Think that using so many well-known actors didn’t help; perhaps the end product would have look different if he worked with more non-actors or less known UK and American actors.

The acting was okay even from Norah Jones, as I believe she got her character well (remember that most non-American cinema directors do use a lot of known or unknown non-actors with good and great results, so this is nothing unusual or special); Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman are okay too. The problem to me is not the acting, is using a movie code and style that does not fit well with American “culture” as makes the movie sound and feel banal and most of all, not credible.

Have to say that what I found most unusual is the “happy” ending, as most of his movies do not end like this one. But I understand the idea behind and see it as closing the circle and in a way, finishing the “love” story side of the movie. Then I can’t avoid to think that he did it just because most of his target group audience –for an English speaking movie- will expect a happy ending.

The movie was premiered as an Official Selection of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Most general audiences will be attracted to this movie because of the actors and I feel that they will be totally lost with the movie. You have to know who Wong Kar-wai is and have seen his movies to at least appreciate this side of the movie. Then I suggest using your imagination to imagine Chinese actors (Tony Leung, Gong Li, etc) and settings, perhaps then you will be able to see it and enjoy it a little more.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Opening Day - 2013 Berlinale

Tonight at 7:30pm after a few words of greeting from Government officials the festival will be officially opened by Jury President Wong Kar Wai and Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick. Ange Engelke will again host the evening and music will be provided by Ulrich Tukur & Die Rhythmus Boys with 3sat broadcasting the opening live.

Before the opening ceremony we have the Red Carpet where we will be able to see all juries members, national guests and maybe, the cast of the opening film that is none other than The Grandmaster by Won Kar Wai. You have no idea of how much I'm "dying" to see Wong Kar Wai's film that reunites him with Tony Leung, who I consider the best actor in the world. Those two are a "dream" come true for me, based on the several extraordinary films they have done together. Also in movie Ziyi Dhang who was in outstanding 2046 by Wong Kar Wai with Tony Leung in the leading role.

Hope to be able to watch both events and if find a live streaming will share here for you all, but seems that the official site will live stream today the first press conference and the red carpet. If you wish to see them go here.

Besides the opening film today we also have the screening of the first Panorama film, Zaza Rusadze's Chemi sabnis naketsi (A Fold in My Blanket), a Georgian production that from stills looks like the kind of film I highly enjoy while story seems interesting: "An oppressively atmospheric portrait of a small town community caught up in the treadmill of habit. With magical images illustrating the central character's vivid imagination, this assured work casually reveals the protagonist’s emotional world".

Tomorrow is when all sections will screen films and fest goes full force in this 10-day cinematic marathon, but today many Press Screenings (10) will happen so we will start to hear about movies soon. Not to mention that today is also the first day of the very active European Film Market.

Not planning on doing fest daily coverage but as need a break from Oscar race, probably will share some thoughts about the movies that call my attention each day.

International Jury 2013

The first activity has already happened, the jury photocall and next is the first photo from this year's fest. From left, Susanne Bier, Tim Robbins, Shirin Neshat, Wong Kar Wai, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Adreas Dresen and Ellen Kuras

As of this moment, the first 2013 great cinema party has begun.


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Sunday, April 06, 2014

8th Asian Film Award Winners

A few days back the Asian Film Awards Academy had their award ceremony and the big winner is none other than the Grandmaster by extraordinary filmmaker Won Kar-wai by collecting seven awards including best picture, best director, best actress and more.

Really regret that excellent actor Tony Leung (still consider him THE best actor in the world) didn't got an honor BUT do not mind that Irfan Khan received the award as he gave us a great performance in The Lunchbox.

Winners are in *BLUE. If you wish to learn winners in all categories please go official site here.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cannes – Ashes of Time Redux

Is not that I needed reassurance but after reading some reviews about the premiere of the work of a young Wong Kar-wai, I know that I have to see this film. Check some comments.

"For Hong Kong, it was the decade from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, when directors like Tsui Hark and John Woo were revitalizing the crime film, and when young Wong Kar-wai was revolutionizing the misty romance. At the time, Hong Kong also had perhaps the world's greatest roster of glamorous stars, and prominent among them were Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, the two Tony Leungs, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and Charlie Young. All of them are in Wong's 1994 martial-arts reverie Ashes of Time, which had a special screening last night in a version revised by the director."

"The first surprise about Wong Kar-wai's revamped, re-edited and rescored version of his 1994 cult wuxia classic Ashes of Time is just how little has been changed," writes Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "The second is how much these minor tweaks still have helped clarify the Hong Kong auteur's interpretation of Louis Cha's historical fantasy novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero, confirming that his most poetic, experimental film belongs not in the curiosity cabinet but on the big screen."

"Wong was not content merely to repeat or reinvigorate the genre when he began shooting Ashes of Time more than 15 years ago, but decided to reinvent it completely," writes Peter Brunette in the Hollywood Reporter. "[O]ne wonders what fecundity of imagination - or perversity of artistic willfulness - it took to shoot a costume epic that is made up almost entirely of dark rooms, close-ups and tightly constricted long shots... Wong's obsessive themes of memory, the irretrievability of the past and the impossibility of love, trump those of the traditional wuxia film, which tend to deal more with honor and the indomitability of the spirit."

"The original 1994 Ashes, which I haven't seen (it's available in a poorly done DVD version) apparently didn't make much sense, and it certainly doesn't now, but, lord, is it a vision to behold - a wuxia film turned into an abstract expressionist action painting," writes the Boston Globe's Ty Burr.

But this comment totally “kills” me.

“In the end we are left with the feeling that Wong has simply restored, rather than revisited, one of the most remarkable works of his career. Ashes Of Time uses its wuxia source material as a peg on which to hang a ravishing study in displaced, frustrated desire and loneliness, with a star-studded cast at their prime (Maggie Cheung has never looked more beautiful, or Tony Leung Ka-fai more tragically romantic). The drifters that pass through the film's remote desert locus are bound together by the film's narrator, the late Leslie Cheung, playing a world-weary agent who, for a fee, puts clients in touch with swordsmen-for-hire. Four years after Cheung's suicide, Ashes Of Time Redux reminds us of what a fine actor he was.”

Absolutely a must be seen for me!!!

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

86th Academy Awards Foreign-Language Film - Shortlist of 9

To my surprise late yesterday the Academy released the names of the nine (9) films that will advance to the next round of voting in the category and to must Oscar season followers the selected films meant surprises and huge snubs. We know that every year this is one of the most controversial Oscar categories and this year is NO exception.

There is an article written by Scott Feinberg that if you wish to read in full go here, that could help us understand more about the selection process. The following is a cut and paste paragraph from the article.

The Academy's best foreign-language film Oscar short-list is determined in two phases. During the first, all of the eligible submissions -- which this year numbered 76 and included three documentaries, two animated films and 16 films directed by women -- are divided into groups, as are the members of a foreign-language committee which consists of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, all volunteers from a wide cross-section of the Academy's branches whose names are never released. Each group of members is then assigned to a different group of films. In order to retain the right to weigh in on the short-list at the end of the process, members must attend screenings of a certain percentage of the films in their assigned group. This year, screenings of all of the submissions took place between mid-Oct. and Dec. 16, and members had to attend no fewer than 17. Those who maintained their eligibility then got to vote, and their six highest-scoring films were passed along to an executive committee.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

63rd Berlin International Film Festival - Official Program Lineup

In this morning press conference the festival full program was announced and was going to do one post for all sections, but this year each section will have their own post. We start with the Official Program that this year has 24 films.

Films in main competition include 19 movies with a few well-known directors and some of the most extraordinary actresses: Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve and Nina Hoss. Obviously those films have instantly become must be seen for me.

Also as expected the last installment in the Ulrich Seidl's Paradise trilogy, Paradise: Hope, will premier in competition; but perhaps the film that many of us have been anxiously waiting for -since more than a year- is what makes this fest edition most interesting. I'm talking about the film by this year festival Jury President, master extraordinaire Wong Kar Wai, The Grandmaster starring none other than his regular most admired by me, Tony Leung.

Remarkably after reading about each of the following films became absolutely impressed by the quality of some of them as some of the few images available are really breathtaking.

Official Program

In Competition

Camille Claudel 1915, Bruno Dumont, France (photo)
Долгая счастливая жизнь Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn (A Long and Happy Life), Boris Khlebnikov, Russia (photo)
Elle s'en va (On my Way), Emmanuelle Bercot, France
Epizoda u životu berača željeza (An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker), Danis Tanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Slovenia
Gloria, Sebastián Lelio, Chile and Spain
Gold, Thomas Arslan, Germany
Layla Fourie, Pia Marais, Germany, South Africa, France and Netherlands
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Fredrik Bond, USA
누구의 딸도 아닌 해원 Nugu-ui Ttal-do Anin Haewon (Nobody's Daughter Haewon), Hong Sangsoo, South Korea
Paradies: Hoffnung (Paradise: Hope), Ulrich Seidl, Austria, France and Germany
Pardé (Closed Curtain), Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi, Iran
Poziţia Copilului (Child's Pose), Călin Peter Netzer, Romania
Prince Avalanche, David Gordon Green, USA
Promised Land, Gus Van Sant, USA
La Religieuse (The Nun), Guillaume Nicloux, France, Germany and Belgium
Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh, USA
Уроки гармонии Uroki Garmonii (Harmony Lessons), Emir Baigazin, Kazakhstan and Germany
Vic+Flo ont vu un ours (Vic+Flo Saw a Bear), Denis Côté, Canada
W imię… (In the Name of), Małgośka Szumowska, Poland

Out of Competition
Opening Film: Yi dai zong shi (The Grandmaster), Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong and China
Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, USA and Greece
The Croods, Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, USA (Animation)
Dark Blood, George Sluizer, Netherlands
Night Train to Lisbon, Bille August, Germany, Switzerland and Portugal

International Jury
President: Wong Kar Wai, director, China
Susanne Bier, director, Denmark
Athina Rachel Tsangari, director and producer, Greece
Adreas Dresen, director, Germany
Ellen Kuras, director and cinematographer, USA
Shirin Neshat, artist and director, Iran and USA
Tim Robbins, actor, USA

Again I'm impressed with the quality of the international jury, especially for the first three. Besides the actresses already mentioned, there are many more international and American actors/actresses that definitively call my attention. Perhaps I'm a bit award season burnt but find that many of this year films are especially worth watching, hope I'm right.

Among the films out of competition and besides the festival opening film the most intriguing movie absolutely is George Sluizer's Dark Blood as has a great cast but the leading actor is none other than River Phoenix. Yes, is Joaquin Phoenix brother, a great young actor that passed away in 1993. As took so many years for film to be released, here is a brief film story.

"When Dark Blood’s leading actor River Phoenix died suddenly ten days before the end of the shoot in 1993, the film’s insurance company became the owner of the unfinished material. Years later, director George Sluizer managed to save his footage from being destroyed. In January 2012 he decided to finish the film by reading aloud off-screen the missing scenes from the screenplay. The resulting work is an existentialist latter-day Western which derives much of its evocative power from the presence of its leading man, who was himself teetering on the brink of death."

Can't help to comment that from the American films there is one that is the remake of an Icelandic comedy, Á annan veg (Either Way) by Hafsteinn Gunnar; what pop-up is one of the stars, Paul Rudd, that usually does the kind of comedy I really dislike. Festival praises movie to have "visual poetry" of early David Gordon Green movies so perhaps movie can be different to regular Paul Rudd's fare. But have to admit that I highly enjoy Emile Hirch performances, so probably will end up watching film for sure. The name of the movie: Prince Avalanche.

I'm looking forward to see many of these films hopefully in the very near future.


Watch some trailers, all synopsis/images @MOC

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

86th Academy Awards Foreign Language Film Submissions - Final

Yesterday the Academy published the final list and well, was a great surprise to find seventy-six (76) submissions to the foreign-language category which is a new record that believe will be hard to surpass. Nevertheless all three movies I was supposed to add yesterday are in list plus 2 more, one from Chad and another from Azerbaijan. No matter what category pundits say, it is a great honor for a film to be designed as the nation representative in the most popular/famous awards in the world and my wish is that awards TV show producers realize that a few extra minutes for the category will mean "something" to the millions that watch the show outside USA.

There are some significant changes from what was announced and what is in final AMPAS list. The first and most significant is Czech Republic submission is NO longer Agnieszka Holland's mini-series and has been substituted with a film by Jiri Menzel. The other is the film from Lebanon which is now by director Lara Saba. Post with female directors will be fixed by eliminating film from Czech Republic and adding film from Lebanon. Last I'm a bit surprised that the Swiss submission was accepted as had the impression that there was too much English but seems was just an impression.

The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network.

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Monday, November 05, 2012

聽風者 The Silent War

The latest collaboration between Alan Mak Siu-Fai and Felix Chong Man-Keung, better known for their writing collaboration in the Infernal Affairs saga, is an entertaining movie that showcases Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as blind man with extraordinary hearing abilities. Found his performance interesting enough to allow you to keep watching this mainstream movie up to the end, but do not expect an easy to engage story as due to editing, story gives the impression of being fragmented and doesn't motivate you to fill the gaps.

If you are expecting a full-action movie you will not find it here as this spy thriller doesn't give much thrills; then if you are like me that absolutely love Tony Leung performances in fantastic Wong Kar wai's films, you could enjoy his performance here but surely you will miss the look/feel of Wong Kar wai as movie story even do could have travelled better a similar style, directors' opted for a different approach that left movie "bland" and unable to please directors' fans and/or actor's fans.

Set in 1949 story tells about government unit 701, the spy unit that "doesn't exist" who is fighting and losing to an "invisible enemy" (those conspiring against the government) until senior investigator Zhang Xue-Ning (good performance by Zhou Xun) fails to recruit noted tuner Luo San-Er (Pal Sin) but finds someone better: Luo San-Er's blind assitant Bing (Tony Leung) who doesn't need a cane as he "hears" everything around him. So we see how he is recruited, taken to 701 headquarters, trained in Morse code, finding hidden enemy radio frequencies and help in the capture of top leader Chungking. All of the above happens with some romance, some humor and nothing much else.

Not much to say except maybe that production values are above average, some photography is fabulous and IF you are not a directors' fan plus you want to have an entertainment moment then film is for you.


Watch trailer @MOC

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 9 - Cannes 2015

After today there are only three more films to go in the main competition; but more shocking, the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs and La Semaine de la Critique have their closing ceremony tomorrow, so believe it or not, tomorrow we will start to learn awards winners.

Oops! just realized that La Semaine de la Critique closing ceremony is TODAY!!! Oh gosh. Ceremony will be at 7pm local time.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


With three short films about one theme that I wish to call erotic this compilation is uneven thanks mainly to the presence of the short Equilibrium by Steve Soderbergh that I find it has potential but definitively does not belong here, as has nothing erotic in it. Unfortunately Pedro Almodóvar couldn’t do his short as he was busy doing The Bad Education and Steve Soderbergh replaced him.

But the best short according to me is Wong Kar-Wai’s The Hand starring incredible erotic Li Gong in a must-be seen short about an impossible affair between a high-end call girl and her tailor. To my eyes this short recalls the cinematography and light treatment of Kar-Wai’s 2046 and perhaps it was influenced by it, as Kar-Wai was involved in the chaotic production of this film when he delivered The Hand. Have to admit that this short I’ve seen it a few times before, but this is my first time within the complete anthology and I can see it again many more times. Fantastic!

Then there is the short “Il filo Pericoloso delle cose” (The Dangerous Thread of Things) by Michelangelo Antonioni and has all his style written allover and it was a pleasure to be able to see it finally. I believe that this segment has to be seen with different eyes, as the story and style today it may seem quite different to what filmmakers tell/do nowadays; but if you transport yourself to earlier times you will simply love this short that is absolutely elusive in meaning and resists simple conclusions. Besides is a must be seen as it is Antonioni's last work.

One of the things I loved the most about this anthology is the way the producers chose to join the three segments. Not only the drawings by Lorenzo Mattoti were beautiful but also the music just was fantastic, exactly what I like. The song “Michelangelo” was written and performed by Brazilian Caetano Veloso and not only the lyrics are fabulous (he sings in Italian), but the music is so sensual and erotic. The most beautiful and sensual way to blend the shorts.

This is a must be seen anthology for The Hand segment, the Antonioti’s segment and the amazing interludes.


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Monday, April 18, 2011

50th Semaine de la Critique Lineup

This year the infamous parallel section is 50 years old and their motto, 50 years of discoveries, truly describes the many extraordinary directors that made their debut at this section with the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros to Wong Kar-Wai’s As Tears Go By, Erice’s L’Esprit de la ruche, Crialese’s Respiru and so many more that you can read here.

A few hours ago organizers announced the films that this milestone anniversary conform the Selection and even when they are not yet at the site here are the seven (7) films (only first or second film) that made the Selection plus the other films that are Special Screenings and the Short Films.

The Selection

17 Filles, Delphine and Muriel Coulin, France
Avé, Konstantin Bojanov, Bulgaria and France
Las Acacias, Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina and Spain
(*) הנותנת Hanotenet, Hagar Ben Asher, Israel and Germany
Sauna on Moon, Zou Peng, China
(*) Snowtown, Justin Kurzel, Australia
Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols, USA

(*) First Film, competes for Camera d’Or (not sure about the others, so will wait to confirm)

President: Lee Chang-dong, director, South Korea

Special Screenings
Opening Film: La Guerre est déclarée, Valérie Donzelli, France
Closing Film: Pourquoi tu pleures?, Katia Lewcowicz, France
Walk away Renée, Jonathan Caouette, USA, France and Belgium
(*) My Little Princess, Eva Ionesco, France (with Isabelle Huppert!)
Mourir auprès de toi, Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn, France (short film)

Short Films

Alexis Ivanovitch vous êtes mon héros, Guillaume Gouix, France
Black Moon, Amie Siegel, USA
Blue, Stephan Kang, New Zealand
Boy, Topaz Adizes, USA
Bul-Myul-Ui-Sa-Na-Ie, Moon Byoung-gon, Korea
Dimanches, Valérie Rosier, Belgium
In Front of the House, Lee Tae-ho, Korea
La inviolabilidad del domicilio se basa en el hombre que aparece empunando un hacha, Alex Piperno, Uruguay and Argentina
Junior, Julia Ducournau, France
Permanencias, Ricardo Alves Junior, Brazil

President: Jerzy Skolimowski, actor, producer, scriptwriter and director, Poland

To check films at official site please go here. Suggest to watch video as has photos from films and also, English subtitles!

Watch Trailers @MOC

I know is extraordinary news but the more I learn about the movies in this year Cannes the more women directors I find; still it’s starting to look as if it was done “on purpose”. I really hope that’s just my twisted imagination and that all selected directors (no matter the genre) truly deserve to be in the many selections. Sigh.

Tribute Series

As we know in May, La Semaine de la Critique will celebrate its 50th year. Since 1962, La Semaine de la Critique has been unwavering in its dedication to discovering new talent through showcasing directors’ first and second feature films from all over the world. This anniversary gives us the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to all of the filmmakers who made their debuts with us.

All around the world, Festivals and Cinemas have agreed to help celebrate our 50 years of discovery, by presenting tribute series or retrospectives of important films originally selected by La Semaine de la Critique.

The tour started on March 18th at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and will travel to Lebanon, Thailand, South Korea, India, Belgium, Peru, USA, Brazil, and many cities in France. But most interesting is that MUBI will be part of the event by programming some films selected at La Semaine de la Critique over the last 20 years. Films will be available from May 12th all over the world at MUBI site. I really hope that “all over the world” means exactly what it says and MUBI has the rights to all countries and not just some.

The Posters

This year for a change I really like the posters with scenes from movies, so the poster that opens the post comes from Barbet Schroeder’s More and the following are from Bernardo Bertolucci’s Prima della Rivolozione, Wong Kar-wai’s Wang jiao ka men (As Tears Go By), Jaques Audiard’s Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Amores Perros. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Miao Miao 渺渺

Not exactly what I was hoping for but still a very entertaining movie with excellent production values as has the most exceptional crew backing up first time director Cheng Hsiao-Tse. This is a movie that looks and feels like high quality cinema as is produced by Wong Kar-Wai’s production company with especial mention to editing done by Wong Kar-Wai’s extraordinary editor William Cheun Suk-Ping.

The movie tells about two girls and their innocent discoveries with first love. Bubbling Xiao-Ai (Chinese-French actress Sandrine Pinna, aka Chang Yung-yung) meets quiet Dai Si Shi-miao, aka Miao-miao (Ke Jia-yan) a Taiwan born exchange student that lives in Japan and the two girls become inseparable with Xiao-Ai totally falling for Miao-miao. But Miao-miao falls for Chen Fei a silent guy that runs a cozy little second hand CD’s shop and is grieving the death of his true love. So you have one of those stories where girl falls for girl who falls for guy who was in love with another guy and as expected the end is not really happy for anyone. Simple story, yet with a twist that travels both the lesbian as the gay interest genres.

But this is a movie to watch for the excellent production values plus some quite amazing and interesting visuals and yes, for a very light and entertaining very likable story about two teenage girls that it’s fun to watch, even when the movie is really arty.

Performances are good and main characters are definitively good-looking so it is not really hard to get fast involved with the movie. The movie got two nominations at the 2008 Asian Film Awards for Best Editor and Sandrine Pinna for Best Newcomer. Highly recommended for those that enjoy quality cinema and well, I do recommend it to those that enjoy the lesbian and gay interest genres as a perhaps common story extremely well packaged.

I definitively liked the movie for its production values, but also because the breezy tone the movie has as manages to touch complex issues in a simple down-to-earth way.


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Monday, June 09, 2008

11th Shanghai International Film Festival

This fest will take place from June 14 to 22 and the most interesting news is that the Jury President is none other than Wong Kar Wai and here are all the jury members.

Jury President: Wong Kar Wai
Ulrich Felsberg – German producer
Bille August – Danish director
Gila Almagor – Israeli writer
Kaori Momoi – Japanese actress and director
Joan Chen – American actress
Jianqi Huo – Chinese director

The festival has been criticized for not being much international, but with this jury obviously they want to correct the perception. The films In Competition for the Jin Jue Award are the following.

8 päivää ensi-iltaan (8 Days To Premiere), Perttu Leppä, Finland, 2008
Der Freund (The Friend), Micha Lewinsky, Switzerland, 2008
Die Tränen meiner Mutter (My Mother’s Tears aka Berlin-Buenos Aires), Alejandro Cardenas, Germany, 2007
Gynaikeies Synomosies (Women’s Conspiracies), Vassilis Vafeas, Greece, 2007
La Ronda (Love by Accident), Inés Braun, Argentina, 2008
I Viceré (The Viceroys), Roberto Faenza, Italy and Spain, 2007
Mukha, Vladimir Kott, Russia, 2008
Nereikalingi zmones (Loss), Maris Martinsons, Lithuania, 2007
Nick of Time, Qunshu Gao, China, 2007
Paris, Cédric Klapisch, France, 2007 (yes is with Juliette Binoche)
Plyus Odin (+1), Oksana Bychkova, Russia, 2008
Second-Hand Wedding, Paul Murphy, New Zealand, 2008
The Taste of Fish, Shingo Matsubara, Japan, 2008
Uri Saengae Choego-ui Sungan (Forever The Moment), Soon-rye Yim, Korea, 2008 (Could be interesting… about female handball team)
Urtin Duu, Hasichaolu, China, 2007 (Seems very interesting)
Václav, Jiri Vejdelek, Czech Republic, 2007

There are many more movies and shorts in the site that unfortunately the English section has not much information and the site is not easy to navigate, but if you want to check them go here.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Comments on 60th Cannes Festival

Now that I have seen information about most movies –some are still missing, but I will find more information- I feel like sharing with you some thoughts about this festival.

Lets start with the festival poster that is an incredible photocomposition, can you recognize them? Well, here is a description of the photo from the official press release:

“During the 2006 Festival, photographer Alex Majoli, from the Magnum Agency, created a series of portraits of jumping artists. From these photos, graphic designer Christophe Renard composed a true choreography in celebration of the creative energy of cinema, composed of Pedro Almodovar, Juliette Binoche, Jane Campion, Souleymane Cissé, Penelope Cruz, Gérard Depardieu, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and Wong Kar Wai. The 60th Anniversary poster is the manifesto of a Festival ever turned towards the future.”

Since I am sharing the official festival poster, let’s take a look at the poster for the Un Certain Regard chapter. This poster is an original work by Italian artist Enrico Marini and he says “Comic strips and cinema speak the same language. That of images. My storyboard alternately transforms me intro screenwriter, decorator, costume designer, actor or filmmaker.”

Animation is becoming more and more important in worldwide cinema, mainly Anime/Manga oriented, do you agree? Well, there are no nominations for this type of animation, but there is one for a French animation movie Persepolis.

As always there is a wide selection of movies from allover the world with some directors being nominated for the first time. There are 13 directors that will make their debuts in competition for the festival’s top prize, la Palme d’Or.

Something called my attention and is the absence of UK movies as there is only one movie (A Mighty Heart) and is out of competition… Hmmm! This is bad news, as British directors can do nice festival movies! Also there is a wide range of genres, which I find outstanding especially when they include comedies and even one musical!

By the way, the opening film is Norah Jones screen debut (??!!)… Leonardo DiCaprio co wrote the script and performs as himself in the environmentalist documentary 11th Hour and I’ll stop or this will become a trivia/gossip post!

Now lets get some data that stimulates my daydreaming… and maybe could motivate me to just jump into a plane and go there!

Because the Festival’s anniversary is a homage to artists, it will be celebrated by a film, To Each His Own Cinema, both a personal and collective work. 35 renowned directors had carte blanche to come up with a 3-minute film focused on that institution known as the “movie theatre”.

These are the directors: Theo Angelopoulos, Olivier Assayas, Bille August, Jane Campion, Youssef Chahine, Chen Kaige, Michael Cimino, Ethan & Joel Coen, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Manoel De Oliveira, Raymond, Depardon, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Aki Kaurismaki, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Andrei Konchalovsky, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti, Roman Polanski, Raoul Ruiz, Walter Salles, Elia Suleiman, Tsai Ming Liang, Gus Van Sant, Lars Von Trier, Wim Wenders, Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Yimou.

Hope we will be able to watch this film!

There will be a tribute to Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda will be there. There will be some Master Classes by Martin Scorsese (The Cinema), Sergio Castellito (The Actors) and Howard Shore (The Music).

If you feel like shopping for a movie there will be 3,000 companies from 80 different countries that confirmed their participation … how about opening a distribution company and go shopping at Cannes?? I wish… then, why not? Someone interested?

Speaking of going to Cannes those who will be there could enjoy a six day special program “Tous Les Cinemas du Monde” where they will be showing movies from India, Lebanon, Poland, Colombia, Slovenia and some African countries.

And if that’s not enough of “non-traditional” movie watching opportunities, then you may be able to attend L’Atelier where you can learn about 15 filmmaker projects from Argentina, Austria, China, Colombia, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey and USA/Korea. Tired? There is still more!

The 60th Anniversary Tributes include showings of Boxes by Jane Birkin, Roman de Gare by Claude Lelouch, Centochiodi by Ermanno Olmi, and Ulzhan by Volker Schlondorff. Sharing my ignorance with you readers, I had no idea Jane Birkin directed movies and she has four!! Boxes (Drama in French & English) is her last 2007 project after a directing hiatus since 1994 … but, she did several movies as an actress during those years.

Many things to do in this festival, isn’t? And I skipped shorts and documentaries!!! Well, probably I will never attend the Cannes Film Festival, but there is the other one the Cannes Lions (the advertising festival) that is more likely for me to go.

I promise I will not write any more about this festival and concentrate on the movies… but, with so many things happening here it could be impossible to honor the promise!

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Monday, October 05, 2009

La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train)

A dense and very complex drama by André Téchiné, who also co wrote, that has been described as the most “politicized” film by the great French auteur in recent years, a comeback to his roots with all his trademarks of narrative density, insightful character study and a passionate engagement with the complexities of modern French politics and culture.

Inspired by a true incident the film tells about a girl that was a victim of an anti-Semitic attack and a few weeks later admitted it was not true. But in Téchiné’s skillful hands the story has two chapters, Circumstances and Consequences. For the first 50 minutes or so that lasts Circumstances you will see the life of two families in their mostly everyday inconsequential activities until “something” happens. One is a mother and daughter family with Louise (Catherine Deneuve) and Jeanne (Émilie Dequenne) getting along pretty well. The second family is composed by Samuel Bleistein, a successful attorney and leading figure in Paris’s Jewish community, his son, his daughter-in-law and the grandson.

But actually Circumstances deals a lot more with Louise and Franck, a man she falls for and goes to live with him. Obviously there is a lot that I’m not telling, but suffice to say that in Consequences you will see how one incident detonates the real life incident on which the film was inspired and how the two families gather together to resolve their various differences.

Absolutely not for general audiences as it’s a very complex drama that deals more with the characters than with the incidents, so there are many incidents that Téchiné simply chose not to show and are left to your imagination. Using an image, I believe that this is a film with islands as narrative and invisible channels that take you from one island to another. The film has excellent production values with remarkable performances by Deneuve and especially Dequenne in her award winning role as Jeanne; but I’m always impressed with the spectacular performances by Ronit Elkabetz that has such a majestic screen presence. This is a film with an A+ cast.

For those not familiar with what RER means let me tell you that is the Parisian train network; so, there are a lot of takes with trains that made me recall the work of Wong Kar-wai and made me think how in your brain you establish territories. For me this kind of train takes absolutely belong to Wong Kar-wai territory.

I highly enjoyed the movie but know that is a very dialogue and visually complex film that only Téchiné’s fans and those that love French really good adult-dramas could enjoy, at least as much as I did.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #7 - The Asians

Asian directors also have significant presence among the 19 films in the main competition as three films come from that side of the world. Already talked about Jia Zhangke and now is time to review Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Kore-eda Hirokazu.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien

A leading figure of Taiwan's New Wave cinema movement that abandoned the melodrama and kung-fu action films for the realism in urban or rural Taiwan, promoting the narrative structure that progresses at the pace as it would in real life. His work engages themes of political, cultural, and personal transition, frequently through oblique narratives grounded upon generational conflicts. For these and many more reasons he is my favorite Taiwanese director of all times.

He was born in April 8, 1947 in Meixian, Guangdong province, China but in 1948 his family fled the Chinese Civil War to Taiwan where he was educated at the National Taiwan Academy of the Arts. After graduation in 1972, he worked briefly as a salesman. Later he began his film career as a scriptwriter and assistant director. His first cinema-related work dates back to 1973 when he was the script supervisor for Xin you qian qian jie. Took him almost a decade to finally do his first feature film, 1980 Jiushi liuliu de ta (Cute Girl) and almost two more decades for me to discover him.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

19th Stockholm International Film Festival Lineup

The festival will run from November 20 to 30 and recently they announced their lineup and here it is for some categories.

In Competition

$9.99, Tatia Rosenthal, Israel and Australia
Bether Things, Duane Hopkins, UK and Germany
Lønsj (Cold Lunch), Eva Sørhaug, Norway
Venkovský ucitel (Country Teacher), Bohdan Sláma, Czech Republic, Germany and France
Downloading Nancy, Johan Renck, USA
Frozen River, Courtney Hunt, USA
Les Grandes Persones (Grown Ups), Anna Novion, Sweden and France
Pescuit sportiv (Hooked), Adrian Sitaru, Romania
Hunger, Steve McQueen, UK
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh, UK and Belgium
De Ofrivilliga (Involuntary), Ruben Östlund, Sweden
Johnny Mad Dog, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, France, Belgium and Liberia
Julia, Erick Zonca and Camille Natta, France, USA, Mexico and Belgium
Rusalka (Mermaid), Anna Melikyan, Russia
Hr Landshhövding (Mr Governor), Måns Månsson, Sweden
Parc, Arnaud des Pallières, France
Dangkou (Plastic city), Nelson Yu Lik Wai, China, Brazil and Japan
Rumba, Dominque Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, Belgium and France
Soi Cowboy, Thomas Clay, Thailand and UK
The Brothers Bloom, Rian Johnson, USA

To check all the films go here.

The festival will honor Charlotte Rampling for “her impressive portrayals of some of the most memorable female characters in modern cinema” and Wong Kar Wai for “his unique ability to cast the creatures of the night in a romantic and moody light”.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

54th Semaine de la Critique News

While traveling the parallel section of the Cannes fest released several news, following is a selection of the news, but perhaps the most awaited is the date for the press conference where they will announce this year's selection: April 20th.

The Poster

Recently La Semaine de la Critique unveiled their current edition poster with the message of "fresh air" which suggests that their films selection will bring a new/fresh perspective to the festival.

For the poster of its 54th edition, La Semaine de la Critique found inspiration in a still from Respire (Breathe) a second feature film directed by Melanie Laurent and part of last year's selection. Lively, bold freed of all constraint, the heroine played by the actress Lou de Laâge, embodies the breath of fresh air carried by emerging talents. The poster was designed by the Parisian agency “Les bons faiseurs“ from a photograph by Jérôme Plon.

Since its creation in 1962 within the Cannes Film Festival, La Semaine de la Critique continues to promote young promising filmmakers worldwide by selecting first and second feature films, as well as short films.

Current year honorees will follow the footsteps of such famous foregoers as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ken Loach, Wong Kar-wai, Andrea Arnold, Leos Carax, Arnaud Desplechin, Guillermo del Toro, Jacques Audiard or Miranda July, all revealed by La Semaine. The 54th selection of La Semaine de la Critique, composed of 10 feature films and 10 short films, will be announced on April 20th.

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

53rd Semaine de la Critique News

For its 53rd edition, La Semaine de la Critique unveils its new poster, which captures the creative energy of a whole new generation of filmmakers.

Conceived by the digital agency “Les bons faiseurs“, the poster features Kate Moran, one of the stars of Rencontres d’après minuit (You and the Night), the first feature of Yann Gonzalez, discovered at La Semaine de la Critique. Posing for photographer Jean-Claude Moireau, the actress sits astride a motorbike, looking like she's ready to conquer new horizons.

Find the poster graphically very interesting and most of all, modern which is quite unusual for Cannes posters. Bravo! Let's hope the festival also surprise us with a modern and interesting poster.

The Grand Prize of this 53rd edition of the Semaine de la Critique will be presided over by British filmmaker Andrea Arnold. The Jury, made up of four international journalists, will award one of the seven feature films in competition. The winning entry will follow Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza's Salvo, winner of 2013's Grand Prize.

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