So, it’s been a busy past two weeks. I started out by shooting a short film for a friend on my 7D (it could have gone a lot worse), had two essay deadlines (one of which is tomorrow), and I currently have 4 corporate jobs to reign in; I’m getting whipped left, right and centre!
I forgot to mention that I’ve also been ill and bed-ridden for a few days these last two weeks, which has made for some great home viewing however. I have recently, in research for my essay on Asian cinema, probed into a load of ‘Asia Extreme’ titles, as branded by Tartan Video. Of course, there’s the original classics, I’m sure many of you have seen Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy or Miike Takashi’s Audition. Anyhow, in deciding to dig a little deeper into the label, I watched Shimizu Takashi’s Marebito and Miike Takashi’s Visitor Q, of which both were excellent and disturbing. I feel there is a whole chunk of wonderfully incongrous cinema waiting to be explored – though I feel I may be a tad late to this J-horror (Japanese) cult ‘fanboy’ following.
I digress, here are my movies of the week (no shorts this week I’m afraid) – In fact, I’m going to do each week and then pick the best from the two!
Film of the week – The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson (week 8), Dragon – Peter Chan (week 9) – Other great films worth checking out that I’ve added to my ‘films worth your time’ list these past two weeks: Reincarnation, Visitor Q, Porco Rosso and Renoir.
In Theatres – Well… unfortunately I’ve gone to see films that I haven’t actually enjoyed very much (Gravity and Oldboy). Firstly, and most appallingly, I dislike Gravity. I, however, have admiration for the groundbreaking visual effects, it is wonderful… for five minutes. The whole movie felt a bit like a joke, the narrative was the sloppiest I think I’ve ever encountered. Secondly, I’ve come to realise, that as soon as Spike Lee announced he was remaking Oldboy, the movie was already dead in the water. I haven’t come out of the cinema feeling so sour in a while, what a waste of everyones time.
Enough ranting, here’s a movie that I rented for 99p on Blinkbox and really enjoyed.
Dragon (best film of the two weeks, though PTA’s The Master is well worth your time)
Donnie Yen is a modern day martial arts hero. He choreographs impeccable and fierce fight scenes in this Western-influenced action film by Peter Chan. Yen is not just a martial artist, here, once again, he proves wonderfully adept with subtler emotional beats. Jet Li springs to mind as one of the few other martial arts actors capable of bringing subtle beauty, emotion and conflict to the table.
The script is rather reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, as Yen has previously lived a life as a notorious killer for a clan reigned by his Father. Yen, however, simply wants no more than to be a family man who lives in a remote village and works at the paper-mill. This peaceful life is interrupted by a forensically minded detective who is dispatched to investigate the murder of a notorious criminal in the village, Yes, Yen had sent him flying with an innocous blow to the head in order to protect the village. What follows is the detective becoming obsessed by Yen’s past life and this past life coming back to haunt (in very much a physical way) Yen.
The film is also stunningly shot, as our many great kung fu films, with a great diversity of overhanging angles, slow-motion sequences and extruding colour grades.
Watch the trailer below: