1. Tears of the Yang-Tse
/ Yi jiang chun shui xiang dong liu
The historical context and moral dilemma were promising but dramatization is really over the top, and tiring at +180mins.
2. Running Out of Time
/ Am zin
(Johnnie To, 1999) [HK] 7
Efficient direction for this cat-and-mouse game between a police negotiator and a singular thief. Has on top the typical, somehow formuleic, HK blend of drama, romance and comedy.
3. Cute Girl
/ Jiu shi liu liu de ta
(Hsiao-hsien Hou, 1980) [Taiwan] 7-
I will start exploring my BR boxset of HHH early films (Carlotta). Cute Girl
, his first fim, has not much of the social realism and uncompromising formalism of his future works but it is quite amusing to see premices of his style including distant composition of countryside landscapes, off-camera scenes and long takes. Besides, if you can tolerate the genre, it is a nice, little rom-com.
Quality of the restaured pictures is really great so I am looking forward to the next.
My women in action #1
4. A Yangtze Landscape
(Xu Xin, 2017) [China] 6
Striking B&W visuals, contemplating the flow of industrial vessels sailing from Shanghai up the river. Where this documentary doesn't fully succeed is in connecting the onshore sequences that pause on impoverished inhabitants nearby. They are clearly stuck where everything moves around them - who they are, how they landed on there and how they survive would have been worth exploring deeper.
/ Gau ji
(Fruit Chan, 2004)[HK] 7-
Enjoyable horror drama which focuses on the social and moral horror of the protagonists rather than its fantasy. A fine performance by the two lead actresses, with a very believable appetite for youth. Plot could have been less linear and characterization deeper.
My women in action #2
6. Cities of Last Things
(Wi Ding Ho, 2018) [Taiwan] 5
Messy story telling as if director wanted a Chinese Cloud Atlas and changed his mind for Rebels of the Neon God after 20 mins, without caring much for losing the viewers on the way. Saved somehow by a few decent drama segments and acting.
7. The Missing Gun
/ Xun qiang
(Chuan Lu, 2002) [China] 7+
Fun thriller. This is the debut feature of Chuan Lu and there is a lot he wants to show as a director, sometimes abusing from camera effects and editing but overall it gives a lot of pace to the action. Wen Jiang is excellent as always; from stupidness to cold determination, he really has a broad acting range.
8. The Green, Green Grass of Home
/ Zai na he pan qing cao qing
(Hsiao-hsien Hou, 1982) [Taiwan] 6+
Continuing with HHH earlies, this one revolves around an elementary school in the countryside where a teacher from Taipei comes as a substitute and try to blend in - a connection between rural and urban that HHH will explore in many films. Whereas there are still some comedy elements you can sense HHH is now slowing down the action for more contemplative sequences and focusing on developing intertwining stories that only resolve at the end with a converging subtext. It got me only mildly engaged though.
9. Armour of God
/ Lung hing foo dai
(Jackie Chan, 1986) [HK] 4
Boring and mediocre - Jackie Chan trying to be half-Indiana Jones half-James Bond through Europe and failing in both. I am not a huge fan of his films anyway but there was one single exciting stunt - in cars, which for a JC movie is kind of lackluster to say the least.
10. The Ditch
(Bing Wang, 2010) [China] 8-
Essential companion of Dead Souls
(2018), as a fiction made from the same harrowing testimonies Bing kept collecting about Rightists re-education camps under Mao's era.
My women in action #3
11. The Eagle Shooting Heroes
/ Se diu ying hung: Dung sing sai jau
(Jeffrey Lau, 1993) [HK] 5
Frantic comedy and action got me tired after twenty minutes, multiple characters and convoluted plot did not help to restore attention
12. Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land
/ An lian tao hua yuan
(Stan Lai, 1993) [Taiwan] 8
Two stage companies rent mistakenly the same theater for their final rehearsal night: this is an exciting concept as we got to see the two plays and the backstage discussions where characters and stories eventually blend. There is wit in the dialogues, subtle intertwined drama, Rivette and Allen came to mind. Great direction and photography as well, lot of care with framing/composing, a new favourite !
My women in action #4
13. Nezha Conquers the Dragon King
/ Nezha nao hai
(Shuchen Wang, Jingda Xu, Ding Xian Yan, 1979) [China] 7
Chinese anime based on a traditional tale: the story line involving a fight between various devils and an innoncent hero is nothing surprising but it served well by the colorization work and the soundtrack.
14. An Autumn's Tale
/ Chou tin dik tong wah
(Mabel Cheung, 1987) [HK] 7+
It has all the predictability of a HK romance of course but there is the charm of Chow Yun-Fat/Cherie Chung and a wonderful effort in make everything believable in New York 80s, emphasizing the cultural clash and distance which all in all makes it a very enjoyable experience.
My women in action #5