Saturday, 27 December 2014

Super Fast Reviews for People in a Hurry Part 1

I am back from a long hiatus studying, ready to review films again!!! However I'm still studying, so this is all I can cobble together at this point. A barrage of random reviews of films/TV series etc, I've seen in the week (Week ending 27/12/2014). I hope you enjoy!

Durarara (2010) Series 1
Ryohgo Narita

  Durarara is my first Anime series I've watched, and boy was it a ride. The Anime is about Mikado, a lonely teen, who moves school to Ikebukuro. There he meets his long-distance friend (Masaomi), a shy schoolgirl with big breasts (Anri) and a ton of crazy characters. One thing Durarara does really well, is the characters are each unique in their own eccentric and crazy way. Each viewer will have a different favourite character. The characters are very much the driving force of what happens, most of which is told through flashbacks. Lots of them. Some of the episodes have over 6 different flashbacks, meaning the story revolves around revelations in back-stories. Every character has a secret past.
  Music is good, although often repetitive. The animation is also good, despite the animators deciding not to animate crowds and extras. Sorry if I'm making it sound average. Its a captivating and enticing watch, which made me ignore many of the flaws. Its really great, and I kind of miss it now I've watched it.


I Killed My Mother (2009)
Xavier Dolan
Canada (French)

  The film is astounding to be directed by a first time director. This is my first Dolan film and I'm very impressed. Dolan stars as well, as a teenage homosexual, firing off against his mother. The acting is really what entices the audiences, and drives the film forward, with stellar performances from the whole cast. The performances are perfect, even if the characters they're portraying are irritating. The son has anger issues, that consistently shouts at his helpless mother.
  Dolan breaks the illusion of mothers-son relationships being all about love and care, and has created a film unlike any other in cinema. Even if the cinematography looks like a dodgy cross between Pedro Almadovar and Jean Luc-Godard, and the protagonist is an asshole, Dolan has created one of the most interesting and thought-provoking debuts in cinema.


Nekromantik (1988)
Jorg Buttgereit

  I finally obtained a copy of one of the most infamous and disturbing films ever made. Well that's what the reputation says. This film centres on a streetsweeper, who takes a corpse home after a cleaning job. After a 'lovely' sex scene, his wife then leaves the streetsweeper for the corpse, leaving him alone and mentally deranged.
  I rarely watch repulsive, stomach churning films, but I thought it would be great to watch with a few friends round the house. The film is so poorly made, they hated it immediately. The acting is also dire, but no-one sees these films for the performances. I found the nasty bits no more than off-putting. That is until the final scene, which had me in fits of laughter. The 'grande' finale is a highpoint of the "Nasty" genre, but doesn't make up for a mostly dismal film.


The Children (2008)
Tom Shankland
United Kingdom

  Now for a film far worse than Nekromantik. 'The Children' takes place in a "snowy"(obvious fake snow going on) country house near a forest. Its a family gathering for Christmas, but things go wrong when the children become evil and murderous.
  The synopsis is pretty decent, with much potential for exploring Oedipul themes and "What if?" scenarios. However everything about the film is so awfully dull, any chance of this is thrown out of the window and torched with a flamethrower. Firstly the acting is catastrophic. Secondly the dialogue is corny and written by a retarded 5 year old. Thirdly the development of the film is inconsistant with a snore inducing introduction, to pointless and random deaths. Fourthly, and most importantly, it is not scary whatsoever. Not even chilling. This is the sole purpose of a movie described as "horror", and if it doesn't do it, it fails completely.


Patema Inverted (2013)
Yusuhiro Yoshiura

  This is a beautiful Anime, that really exceeded my expectations. Age is a schoolboy living in a Utopian world on the surface. Patema is a same-age girl who lives underground. They both have different gravities (so up is down for Patema and down is up for Age). Together they rescue each other while falling in love.
  A year ago I saw a film called 'Upside Down', which looked great and had a perfect relationship between the two characters, but the story was the most flawed in existence. The inverted mechanic works perfectly in Patema Inverted. The relationship between Age and Patema is wonderful as well. The dystopian future setting, like that of City of Ember crossed with North Korea, looks phenomenal, with the outside containing wide open green fields and large open skies, and an underground city which is mysterious while being equally as beautiful. The flying mechanic is really great to see on-screen, and lots of fun to watch. Its what 'Upside Down' should have been.


The Castle of Sand (1974)
Yoshitaro Nomura

"The Castle of Sand" is a typical Police/Detective thriller, similar to Akira Kurosawa's 'High and Low'. The plot thickens, as revelations come to light, resulting in a phenomenal final act. Here, the film changes pace, to a sweeping, emotional, melodramatic, wordless Epic which left me stunned. I've been years trying to find this film, and its well worth the hunt.


Make Mine Music (1946)
Robert Cormack

  I appreciate the movies Disney have made during the war more than most people. 'Saludos Amigos' and 'The Three Caballeros' are unanimously disregarded, despite being some of Disney's best. Donald Duck is a painful screen presence (the Jar Jar Binks of Disney), degrading these films from a 85 to an 80. Make Mine Music doesn't have Donald Duck so it should therefore be flawless.
  Even though there are a couple of brilliant sketches, the film doesn't reach up to the mastery of its two predecessors. Maybe its the removal of the exotic ambiance, or some of the sketches are too long and drag. I'd still recommend watching it, for a couple of moments of excellence.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Toronto Film Festival 2014: In Review

So that was it. The festival is over and I'm back in boring old England. But blimey, what an excellent time I have had. All the films I watched were brilliant in some way or another. The films I referred to as 'filler' in the lead-up, all proved themselves to be worthy films. I will do small reviews of all the films I watched during the four days, with my own mini-award ceremony.

Scarlet Innocence (2014)

I reviewed this one on the blog, but to wrap up, its a sophisticated erotic thriller about a man's descent and a lover's deceit. Even though it's not the sort of film I like, I cannot deny how well directed all the scenes are.


Best Acted, Film Least Recommended to See with Parents

The Dead Lands (2014)

A film about aborigine New Zealanders, that feels like The Lion King meets Apocalypto. The film started with a fire alarm, so we had to leave the theatre, and the fire brigade was called. After a while we were allowed back in, and the film began. What proceeded was a mediocre film, which was predictable throughout. The cinematography was mildly good, but, again, it felt like a lesser Apocalypto. The post-screening Q&A was introduced by a tribal dance (link to the video) and all the actors and directors seemed incredibly passionate and friendly. The audience seemed to love it as well, but their was nothing in the film for me. Infact it made me very tired, I must have fallen asleep 15 or so times during the film, only to be woken up by a character shouting OOGA BOOGA.


Most Enthusiastic and Passionate Cast, Most Sleep Inducing

Tokyo Tribe (2014)

One of my most hyped screenings as I am a colossal Sono fan ever since seeing the four hour  Love Exposure at 1am on Film4. I have seen eleven of his films and none have disappointed thus far. Sono is a constantly improving director which I would admit is probably my favourite. The film begins with a ten minute shot, accompanied by monotonal rapping and concluding in violence and nudity. What I love about Sono is that he gets the balance of nudity, violence and exploitation, so none of them are overused and exhausted. The whole film was incredibly enjoyable, although the film comes into it's own during the last 30 minutes. What happens during the final third is classic Sono, with non-stop, full throttle, laugh-a-minute exhilaration.

The crazier the ideas of his films are, the better they turn out to be, so when I heard Sono was directing an Epic Gangster Rap Musical, I was overjoyed. The whole film was great, even if the rapping did absolute nothing for me. The film may even top WTF lists in years to come it was so insane, however it is definitely not for everyone.

The screening was part of Midnight Madness, so I the film and Q+A finished about 2am. Instead of being tired, I was pumped, humming "Tokyo Tribe, Never Ever Die" until I got to the flat. The audience was crazy, clapping moments of the film, and heckling the sponsored adverts. If you ever get to see a Midnight Madness screening I would advise to do so, there is nothing quite like it.


Favourite Director, Craziest Film, Most Enjoyable Film, Third Best Film

Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

This Nagisa Oshima film was showing as part of the Cinematheque, which was showing classic and restored film throughout the festival. This has been a film I had recently wanted to see, due to its notoriety and that it kick-started the Japanese New Wave. This free screening was accompanied by an unexpected introduction from Claire Denis, who greatly admires the film and how it was unique for the period.

The film has aged slightly, as the synopsis of "two reckless youths falling in love, and concluding in tragedy" has been repeated ever since. Yet the film is largely forgotten, unlike Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses" which has only got more infamous and controversial. The story concerns a young woman falling for a young man, even after he slaps and rapes her. The woman resists at first, but eventually succumbs to his male stature in a hybristophilia type way. The youth portrayed in the film are selfish, audacious, full of hatred for older citizens and without a care in the world. None of the characters are sympathetic, but provide a good character study of the type of people I wouldn't know anything about. It also provides a snapshot into a time of the late Post-War Japan period, with rioting and lost youth. It's a film that I would recommend if a fan of film history, but not enjoyable whatsoever. Seeing as this is Oshima's second feature, I am very impressed.


Oldest Film, Least Likeable Protagonists.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

My most anticipated film of the festival is Studio Ghibli's latest. Directed by Isao Takahata, formally known for 'Grave of the Fireflies' and 'Pom Poko', who was also there for the after-screening Q+A, which is possibly the most star-struck I have been. He's not just another over-rated celebrity, but a genuinely talented and respected old man. Did I mention I've seen every Studio Ghibli film to date (excluding The Wind Rises)? Well it was time to begin, and well... It was even better than my exceedingly high expectations.

The film grabs you from the very first scene and does not let go until the closing credits, by which time I was so close to tears. The film itself has a sad story of homesickness and nostalgia, but its the pure overload of gorgeous images that really got to me. Every scene is drawn as an unbelievably beautiful water-colour painting, that fitted the tenth century setting perfectly. The themes of longing for the past is universal and affects every person in the world. These may be the reason why the phenomenal world of Princess Kaguya is one I want to experience again and again.

This may be the beginning of another Ghibli golden age, but don't get your hopes up, as Takahata said during the Q+A that it's more likely he won't direct another Ghibli film, than he would. I could see Takahata was about to cry as he was saying this.


Best Film, Closest to Tears, Most Timeless Film, Best Animated.

Coming Home (2013)

Zhang Yimou's newest film is very much a tear-jerker. Not me, but the audience was sobbing like crazy. It chronicles the return of a rebel prisoner to his amnesia-suffering wife in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Gong Li's character does not recognise her husband when he does return, causing him to go to great lengths to get her to recognise him. The film is primarily a family drama, where everything that can go wrong, does, for maximum dramatic effect (like Hanake's 'Amour'). It is filled with cultural history of a largely forgotten period of history. Yimou usually shoots on film, focusing on large stories and epic landscapes, so I found this his least impressive film, as its shot on digital and focuses on a small family. The film is disappointing for me, as I know Yimou is capable of unforgettable epic films like 'Raise the Red Lantern', and 'Flowers of War', but this is very much a step back in his career than one forward. The film does have some shining moments, such as a beautiful piano scene, and the letter reading, but the overload of sad scenes made me groan far too often.

Gong Li is the best thing about this film, giving a truly wonderful performance. All the acting is great from the three main leads, but I wasn't feeling the film as much as the constantly sobbing girl I sat next to. The Yimou Q+A afterwards was really quite brilliant. Despite only making films from the mid-80s, he does feel like a true master of cinema.


Song of the Sea (2014)

This wonderful film is directed by Tomm Moore, the man who created one of the most gorgeously animated films ever made with 'The Secret of Kells'. From the trailer, it looked like the animation style was identical, although the story is quite different. The film is about a brother and a sister who go on an adventure to save the magical fairies who have turned to stone. On the way they must dodge vicious owls, and take guidance from a wise man with a long beard, each hair of which contains a different story. Even though 'Song of the Sea' is clearly aimed for children, the creators have conveyed so much heart, emotion and power into the film its impossible not to be stunned, amazed and moved. It is equally as good as 'The Secret of Kells', which is very high praise indeed. The Q+A with the director was very fun, with the children in the audience asking better questions than some of the grown-ups.


Second Best Film

In Her Place (2014)

'In Her Place' is a South Korean drama directed by first-time director Albert Shin. The film is about a city woman who travels to rural Japan to live with a teenage girl and her mother. The protagonist soon changes to the teenage girl, when its revealed she is pregnant. Albert Shin is a Canadian director who went back to South Korea to make this remarkable film. The action takes place mostly around a small house in the desolate village of Gungnam, so there are no fancy sets and thus the film focuses on the characters. The whole film is a brutal character study that is physically exhausting, in particular, a devastating scene towards the end. None of the characters were likeable (the directors intention), so I found the film to drag, even if it includes one of cinema's biggest "Oh Sh*t" moments. Well done to Albert Shin for an astonishing debut.


Biggest "Oh Sh*t" Moment


'Luna' is a unknown and unhyped British film directed by David McKean. What persuaded me to buy tickets is it has one of the best trailers I have ever seen. Turns out the trailer gave away all the best parts of the film. Luckily for me I only watched it once (and I suggest you do the same). The story begins as a couple, Grant and Christine, who have recently lost their baby, visiting friends in a remote woods. When their baby passed away, their world deteriorated and they created a sort of fantasy world. As they visit their friends, Fraya and Dean, the fantasy world slowly returns as they struggle to differentiate fantasy from reality. Its quite an incredible film, based slightly off a true story. The characters and the actors portraying them feel like real people, providing a gripping character study. The bizarre and artistic animations are also faultless, adding to the creepy otherworldly aesthetic. 'Luna' will scare, move and will make you think. It stayed with me a while, and is definitely worth watching.


Made me think the most post-watching, Most Interesting Film


'Confession' is a thriller by first-time director Do-Yun Lee, who looks about 14. Collaborating with the cinematographer of Oldboy, and some fine South Korean actors, Lee has made a thriller to the standard of South Korean master-works 'I Saw the Devil' and 'The Chaser'. The script reminds me of Infernal Affairs, while the atmosphere is reminiscent of 'Memories of Murder'. All of this for a directorial debut! Safe to say this was originally filler, but turned out to be the biggest surprise of the festival. If I was to say anything bad about it, it would concern the acting of one of the actors while crying (which wrongfully made me laugh several times) and the ending should be cut by 15 minutes. I am incredibly impressed with this film, and can't wait to read the reviews when its fully released.


Best Debut, Biggest Surprise

National Gallery

The final film I saw of the festival was Frederick Wiseman's 'National Gallery'. A sophisticated 3 hour documentary about the National Gallery in London. I find art mostly dull and uninteresting, but Wiseman's documentary did considerably change my thoughts. The three hours was cut down from 170 hours, and takes place during the winter of 2012. Wiseman takes a look at the many wonderful pieces of art and the behind-the-scenes management of the gallery. What did surprise me is how he made the film look so good when using his own artificial lights would be banned due to them fading the pictures (I asked him this in the Q+A once the film had finished, and he said it was because he used a RedOne camera and edited like crazy afterwards). It's quite unexpected how beautiful the inside of the art gallery looks like on film, with gleaming floors and beautiful works of art on the walls. The staff talking about the art really impressed me, and showed me how a simple painting can have an unbelievable story behind it. The film may be too long, but its one of the most relaxing, peaceful experiences possible and is easy to chill throughout. The final dancing scene was a specific highlight, and one of the most gorgeous scenes at the festival. Wiseman is seriously old, but I hope this is not his final film.


Best Documentary, Most Relaxing Film, Longest Film

Friday, 5 September 2014

Scarlet Innocence (2014)

  'Scarlet Innocence' (Madam Ppang-Deok) is a 2014 South Korean film directed by Pil-Sung Yim and starring Woo-Sung Jung and Esom.

  Deoke (Esom) falls in love with Hak-Kyu (Jung), a university professor turned writing teacher. They have a passionate affair, with major consequences for Deoke's Deaf mother, and Hak-Kyu's wife.

  My first film at the Toronto Film Festival 2014, was the world premiere of this erotic thriller, complete with Q+A with the director. I intentionally watched this film without researching about it, and was pleasantly surprised. 'Scarlet Innocence' is an impeccably crafted film, but is not without a few flaws.

  First thing I noticed was the cinematography, reminiscent of a Soderbergh thriller, with each character lighted so you can see their every sweat. Light is used impeccably, especially the earlier on outdoor scenes. The cinematography is perhaps too good, (not in a Epic 'Lawrence of Arabia' way, but in a "Can't be filmed any better given the material" sort of way), not only because of the composition and lighting, but because it perfectly fits the mood and tone of the film.

  The nice love story that the film begins on quickly takes a dark turn, and continues to get progressively darker. Similar to 'Filth' and 'Wake in Fright', the film chronicles a man's descent into despair, with frightening results. It doesn't just stick to this, by also having a story that includes betrayal, lust and gambling. This film does try and fit too much into the run-time, which helps with the biggest problem for the film that is: there is no clear act structure. The vacancy of any clear middle and end acts make the film hard to enjoy, as I constantly thought the film was wrapping up, only for it to continue for another hour. The film was best during the first 20-30 minutes as you could see clearly what was happening, and was a pretty authentic erotic romance, similar to, and better than, 'Last Tango in Paris', but after this, there is no clear direction where the film is headed making it feel a bit muddled.

  Also impressive is the acting, where I could tell each and every emotion from how the characters act on screen. Woo-Sung Jung takes a break from his heartthrob/action films to portray a multi-layered deceitful persona, far different from his roles in 'A Moment to Remember' and 'The Good, the Bad and the Weird'. If the Oscars were more internationally friendly, I would say he could easily win Best Actor. When I think of South Korean films, I think high-paced action, adorable romances and advanced cinematography, but never quality acting. The acting is good in South Korean movies but never before to this high standard. Both the lead actor and actress were incredible, even during the uncomfortable and revealing sex scenes.

  The reason why this is not scored higher, is because it's just not my type of film. An erotic thriller, where the characters have no redeeming features, is not the sort of film I like at all (I found 'Last Tango in Paris' to be a horrible experience). This is a sophisticated, high quality film that I definitely recommend, if you like the genre.

The first-class acting and brilliant lighting outshine the muddled plot and unsympathetic characters.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Toronto International Film Festival

I am currently chilling in Toronto, in preparation for four days of hardore film watching (that is watching lots of films, not watching films that are hardcore). I have 13 films planned, and I'm going to be too busy to review them. Here is a complete list of films I will watch:

September 4th 2014

6pm Scarlet Innocence (South Korea)
It has been a while since I watched A South Korean thriller. The Chaser, Mother and I Saw the Devil are recent classics, so I decided there was no better way to start the festival.
9pm The Dead Lands (New Zealand)
I know very little about this film. It is mainly filler for the films it is sandwiched between. Its a film about aborigine tribes in New Zealand.
12pm Tokyo Tribe (Japan)
I'll be surprised if I can stay awake for this long. Shion Sono is perhaps my favourite director, having not made a bad film in his 15 year directorial career. This film is a Yakuzza, gangster musical, that I expect to be phenomenal. I am indeed a fan, having seen 11 of his films. Shion Sono may even be there!

September 5th 2014

11.45am Aire Libre (Aire Libre)
This is filler, and optional. It looks awful from the trailer, so I might miss it if I am exhausted.
3pm Winter Sleep (Turkey)
The worldwide acclaimed, 3 hour, Palme D'Or winner, is a film I have yet to get tickets for. I do intend to. I was a bit bored by his previous film 'Once upon a Time in Anatolia', but his work is visually interesting and tells stories at a slow and meditative pace.
8pm Coming Home (China)
Zhang Yimou's latest film. Yimou is known for directing the 2012 Olympic Ceremony, 'Raise the Red Lantern' and 'The Flowers of War' (starring Christian Bale). He is a superb director who is truly a visionary.

September 6th 2014

9am The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan)
I would NEVER miss a Studio Ghibli film. This one is directed by Isao Takahata ('Grave of the Fireflies') and is based on a tenth century Japanese fairytale. The reviews have been brilliant thus far.
11:30am Song of the Sea (Europe)
Directed by the same guy who directed the masterful 'The Secret of Kells', this has the exact same animation style.
2pm In her Place (South Korea)
This is, once again, filler, but it has the most potential out of all the fillers. The trailer gives little away, so I know very little about it.
6.30pm Luna (Britain)
The trailer is really quite something. I have to physically pull myself away from the screen to avoid watching it again (incase it spoils the film). The film looks very experimental, and indie. An unanimated 'Waking Life'.

September 7th 2014

9.15am Confession (South Korea)
Another thriller filler. Although I am down with anything South Korean.
12:15am National Gallery (Britain)
I have yet to see a Frederick Wiseman documentary. I'm not sure starting with a 3 hour documentary about London's National Gallery is a good idea...
4.15pm Love in the Time of Civil War (Canada)
I like the name. Watching films based on names has failed me before ('2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams', 'The Wild Women of Wongo', 'Cannibal Woman in the Avocado Jungle of Death', 'Dinosaurus'), but this film has a far more interesting synopsis.

Films I Wanted to See (showing later in the festival or doesn't fit with my schedule)

Beats of Antonov (Sudan)
Looks magnificent from the trailer. About the Sudan civil war, and I would have seen this as well. If it were longer than an hour long.
Rec4 Apocalypse (Spain)
The first Rec is the scariest film I have seen. The second was good and more of the same. The third was atrocious, partly because, they thought it would be a good idea if they put the camera down and shoot it like a movie. BAD IDEA. It's called Rec, the shaky cam should be compulsory. This fourth one also doesn't have shaky cam, and the story has been blown out of proportion (much like the Paranormal Activity franchise). Why is this here then. The director of the first two, Jaume Balaguero, is directing this, but mainly because it is a guilty pleasure.
They Have Escaped (Finland)
Finnish films are quite a rare occurrence. But it does look like a crazy and brilliant coming of age story from the great trailer. Definitely one for DVD.
The World of Kanako (Japan)
Tetsuya Nakashima is quite a director. His films are vibrant, energetic and startlingly dark. This is his latest film, is about a missing girl and a father's plight to save her.
Fires on the Plain (Japan)
The director of 'Tetsuo''s attempt to adapt and remake Kon Ichikawa's horrifying anti-war film, for present day audiences.
Horse Money (Portugal)
Pedro Costa is a little-heard of auteur from Portugal. This film continues the story of Cape Verdean, as he survives in the Portugese slums. The fourth in the series after Ossos, In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth. I am speechless from watching trailers of his films. The light manipulation in these films are truly beautiful.
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Japan)
Who doesn't want to see a documentary on Studio Ghibli? Documenting the creation of 'The Wind Rises' and 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya'.
The Look of Silence (Indonesia)
Follow-up documentary of The Act of Killing, this time told from the victim's point of view. Also directed by Joshua Oppenheimer.
The Years of Fierro (Mexico)
Fascinating documentary of death-row convict Cesar Fierro, who has been locked up for 30 years. Even more worryingly he might be innocent. Gripped me from the first few seconds of the trailer.
In the Crosswind (Estonia)
This looks to be the most visually stunning film of the festival. It concerns the Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians which were sent by the USSR on trains to the remotest Siberia.
Partners in Crime (Taiwan)
About three high school friends. One of them dies in an alleyway, while the other two discover why she died.
Goodbye to Language 3D (France)
I doubt many people even know (or care) that French New Wave pretentious rebel Jean-Luc Goddard, is still making films. This is probably over-hyped, but I will watch it anyway.
X+Y (England)
An autistic student travels to Taiwan for the Maths championship. Starring Asa Butterfield from 'Ender's Game', 'Hugo' and 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'.
Pasolini (Italy)
I have always thought a film about Pier Paulo Pasolini would be a great idea. This film stars Willem Dafoe (who looks remarkably like him), and chronicles the final days of his life before his assassination.
Mr Turner (Britain)
I have yet to see a good Mike Leigh film (mostly OK and unmemorable), nevertheless he is an amazing director, and this film has heaps of praise.
Leviathan (Russia)
Tons of praise at Cannes, has turned director Andrey Zvyagintsev a name to look out for. His previous work 'The Return' was quite a film.

I will catch-up with the films in this segment during the next year.

I have tickets for all but five of them, the others I intend to buy when they become available. At $18 each (£12), I couldn't stop buying. Now I am about to leave to see some movies!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Police (1985)

  'Police' is a 1985 French film directed by Maurice Pialat and starring Gerard Depardieu.

  Gerard Depardieu plays a policeman called Louis, who attempts to bust a Tunisian narcotics ring. However he falls for Noria, one of the drug traffickers girlfriend, and ends up protecting her, due to the wrongful accusation of theft.

  Depardieu and Pialat had four total collaborations, 'Police' being the first. Pialat has always been a director that is spoken about, but surprisingly few people have seen any of his films (his most voted film on IMDB has 2,500 votes). This is my first foray into his films, which seem to be recommended to me constantly. Gerard Depardieu, on the other hand, seems to be France's most known and loved actor. He may not have the charm that propelled so many actors to stardom, but he has an unparalleled screen presence and a humongous filmography. Ever since watching the brilliant (and actually quite depressing) 'Jean de Florette', Depardieu seems to continually surprise me, and this is no different here. The first ten minutes provides a level of acting rarely achieved in 1970s-80s cinema, with a intense atmosphere and lingering shots.

  'Police' is a crime thriller like no other. The documentary aesthetic, the naff 1980s mise-en-scene and the bland interiors makes the film unique. These points may sound negative, but they combine to create a realistic portrayal of 1980s police that is rarely shown. Usually you get ultra-stylised, minimalistic versions of police offices, but Pialat does the reverse, and creates an authentic setting and atmosphere, so life-like, its easy to forget that this is a film. The film was made half way through the 1980s, and thus, was doomed to be unforgivably naff. The awful hairstyles and the cringe-inducing clothes make an unwelcome return from Rohmer's naff films, but they rarely effect the film itself. Even if Depardieu's haircut is one of cinema's worst.

  Pialat has made the film his own, but he has made the experience of watching it far from enjoyable. The characters may be well developed, and the film is well crafted, however the film lacks structure, contains confusing storylines, and has more words per minute than any film I have seen. 'Police' is far from most people's safety zones, not only in it's content (sexism, nudity, police abuse) but also in what an audience is used to with a film. For example, the main protagonist Louis (Depardieu) is tough, arrogant, sexist and rude. Having a main character that is hard to sympathize with (no matter how well acted) will always irritate the audience. In many different aspects, the film proves to be well made, but so hard to like.

Incredibly well acted and directed, but really hard to "adore".


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Abhijan (1962)

  'Abhijan' (The Expedition) is a 1962 Indian film directed by Satyajit Ray.

  Narsingh is a taxi driver, who gets fired from his firm for dangerous driving. He decides to travel, with his loyal taxi-partner Rama, to his ancestorial homeland of Rajput, when on the way he meets a merchant (Sukharam). The merchant persuades him to stay in the town, due to there being no taxi service. He becomes friends with a Christian school teacher but mistakes her friendly personality for true love.

  Satyajit Ray is an amazing film-maker, who is thought of as a legend in India. He showed Indian cinema to the world with the wonderful 'Pather Pachali', and continued to make great films until his death in 1992. Ray was awarded an honorary Oscar months before his death, which is well-deserved, especially because he made a total of 36 films. It's a shame I haven't seen many of his films (only the Apu trilogy), so I bought the rare Masters of Cinema DVD of 'Abhijan', in hope to change that.

  'Abhijan' is a little known film from Ray's large filmography, that surprisingly few people have seen. It's his biggest film in Bengal, but apart from that it's rarely spoken about. My overall opinion was that the film drags a bit in the middle, but is fully enjoyable and contains many great performances.

  The plot of the film is constantly changing, so therefore, it's hard to figure out where the film is heading, with it starting as a 'fish out of water' protagonist entering a miserable town (the type of film where he makes friends with everyone by the finale), and then changes into a protagonist takes an evil job and looses his friends. The hopeful atmosphere of the film turns into a tragedy, where it feels as if the main character is doomed by his immoral actions. The protagonist switches from bad to good to bad and finally to good again, so by the end of the film I wasn't entirely sure if I liked him or not. The film adds a couple of sub-plots, (the Christian girl, the fight etc) to help fill up the long 2 1/2 hour runtime, but they do get tiresome for a while. 150 minutes is a long time, and I felt like there was not enough interesting events to sustain the brilliance created at the beginning of the film.

  If I was to say "Indian cinema" you would think the colourful singing and dancing exoticism of Bollywood. 'Abhijan' and Ray's other films are far from Bollywood, although they are immersed in Indian culture. Nowhere in the world could make a film combining exotic barren landscape, clanging sitar music and the unfamiliar yet alluring mise-en-scene. I prefer this film to a Bollywood hit like 'Mother India', as it doesn't have the unnecessary singing and dancing, as well as not feeling false and unreal. 'Abhijan' could have genuinely happened in Bengal at some point in time. The film features realistic people in realistic situations, something not seen in the dreamy land of Bollywood, and its a shame they still don't make their films like this.

A superb Indian film from directorial maestro Satyajit Ray. It's never considered one of his greatest, but I fully enjoyed it regardless.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

  'La Grande Bouffe' is a 1973 French film directed by Marco Ferreri, starring Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli and Phillipe Noiret.

  Four gentlemen decide to take a holiday in a remote country house, and eat themselves to death. Two prostitutes and a school teacher decide to keep them company.

  I finally got round to watching the infamous 'La Grande Bouffe', widely known as one of the craziest films ever made. It's a film that is more likely to appear on WTF film lists, then top 100 film lists. Marco Ferreri has made a career of directing some strange films, my favourite being 'Bye Bye Monkey' where "A man walking on the beach near New York City finds the corpse of King Kong. He also finds Kong's orphaned son, and decides to raise it". Ferreri hasn't made any famous, or even critically acclaimed films, but damn are they crazy.

  A film where four men eat food until they die sounds pretty depressing, but the film is alot more fun then it sounds. The characters are filled with expression, similar to other Italian comedies, but here they are go completely over-the-top and then some. Ferrari lets the actors go off the hook, with some of the craziest performances I have seen. The four men are four of the best Italian actors who have ever lived, starring in films from 'Cinema Paradiso' to 'Belle de Jour'. Most notable is Marcello Mastroianni, who I think is the greatest Italian actor who has ever lived, with an unparalleled screen presence.

  The film is also severely grotesque, due to the large amounts of food consumed. Who ever said you shouldn't play with your food? The large plates filled with extravagant dishes of chickens, crepes, and juicy pig heads, are being gratuitously stuffed into by the four men. No table manners whatsoever, they just grab into the food with their hands. The film is grotesque in a sexual way, with the sexual pleasures of the men being performed in a disgusting way, with ugly bodies and even involving some of the food. This does include the occasional sex ontop of a cake. What makes the film genius is that all of this is purely intentional on Ferreri's part. It made me have so many different reactions, from laughing to almost vomiting, which makes the film both memorable and entertaining. Although I can't say I want to ever watch it again.

Italian humour pushed to it's most extreme. It's immature, disgusting and hunger inducing, but I strangely liked it.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Tange Sazen: The Million Ryo Pot (1935)

  'Tange Sazen: The Million Ryo Pot' (Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo) is a 1935 Japanese film directed by Sadao Yamanaka.

  An older brother passes their family heirloom pot onto his younger brother. Unbeknownst to them, there is a map on the pot leading to a 1 million Ryo treasure. The younger brother's wife sells the pot to some scrap merchants, who then give the pot to the neighbour's son. When the brothers find out the pot has the map on it, a massive hunt begins.

  Sadao Yamanaka is a little known Japanese director, which directed 26 films in seven years prior to the Second World War. When war broke out, he was sent to the front line and died of dysentery, sadly now only three of his films exist. This film is his earliest available work, so the quality isn't ideal, and the film is missing a few key scenes. Although we are lucky to have this masterpiece, that was so close to being lost forever.

  The film is a jidaigeki, a historical period film, that uses many techniques ahead of it's time. This is one of the earliest Japanese talkies that exists, and the first talkie in  the Tange Sazen set of films. Before this film, its important to imagine how the Tange Sazen character became a skilled samurai, and lost an eye in the silent films that preceded this one. Luckily for us, it's not necessary to see the earlier films, especially seeing as they are lost forever.

  'Tange Sazen: The Million Ryo Pot' feels like a cross between a Mizoguchi period piece, and a Kurosawa caper. It's even possible to see parts of Ozu, with the luscious soundtrack and the friendly atmosphere. This film was before any of those directors mastered their separate themes and techniques, some of which Yamanaka has already reached mastery on, in this film. This film is already superior to anything Mizoguchi did in the 1930s.

  Despite some obvious missed scenes, the story sticks together very well. It's a screwball caper about a Pot, and the lengths people will go to get it. While this is going on, there is a story of an orphaned child who is taken in by the samurai and the shop-owner. The whole film contains a series of great characters, such as Tange Sazen the ruthless samurai with a hidden tender loving side, the lazy head of a dojo, his jealous wife and the selfish rich brother. There are also two scrap merchants that look suspiciously familiar to two characters in 'The Hidden Fortress'.

  I don't want to give anything away, as the entire film is an entertaining delight. A truly wonderful gem of early Japanese cinema, that I couldn't recommend more.

A rarely seen film that is funny, sweet, visually beautiful and a whole load of fun.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Asphalt (1929)

  'Asphalt' is a 1929 silent German film directed by Joe May.

  Else Kramer attempts to steal a diamond from a jeweller, but is caught. She is taken into custody by Wachtmeister Albert Holk, a small-time policeman. He believes her false story and lets her free. After this encounter, they are destined to meet again.

  'Asphalt' is a little known German Expressionist film, released at the end of the German Cinema Golden Age of the 1920s. It's one of the final, if not the last, German Expressionist film and is acclaimed by most who watch it. The problem with that is that the core audience of the film is die-hard silent/expressionist film fans, something I am definitely not. I don't dislike the genre, I just haven't seen many of the films.

  The Expressionist movement happened during 1920-1929, and was the most exciting thing in silent cinema. These films were long before Citizen Kane, and were the first to show the beauty of the cinema. 'Nosferatu' and 'Metropolis' are the two most known of these films, both of which are seen as important staplemarks of film history and on the IMDB top 250. The truth is no-one has seen Asphalt, and has almost faded into cinematic obscurity.

  'Asphalt' plays out like a psychological Film Noir Romantic Thriller, complete with a deceiving femme-fatale and a straight-faced detective (in this case a policeman, but close enough). Even though the ending is different to the typical Film Noir film, the signs are definitely there. The thrilling aspect is present after the stealing of the jewellery. It's not possible to tell quite where the film is going, but it takes a thrilling ride to get there. The romantic part of the film was unexpected, but a welcome change of pace. The film uses lights to its advantage, even though the film is not as beautiful as any of the other German Expressionism films I have seen.

  The film could have easily been told in 20 minutes but painfully stretches every action it possibly could. Silent films are more about actions than words, but this was really testing my patience in places. There was so little happening, I drifted off in a few places and when I returned to the film, I had missed absolutely nothing. The acting is decent, although Betty Amann never reaches the heights of Louise Brooks, which she was trying so hard to impersonate. At it's worst, I thought the film was an uninteresting disappointment. There are many good aspects of this film, such as the lighting and the strange turn of events in the finale, however everything has been bettered by other films of the movement.

For die-hard German Expressionist film fans only. The film contains nothing that makes it wonderful or unique, although it is a part of the most exciting film movement before 1950.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

General Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (1974)

  'General Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait' is a 1974 French documentary directed by Barbet Schroeder about the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

  General Idi Amin Dada was the ruler of Uganda between 1971-1979. He invited a film crew to record him as he talks about various subjects like other world leaders, his plans to attack Israel and how he aspires to be Africa's Hitler.

  I bought the rare OOP Masters of Cinema DVD and couldn't wait to see this film. I had previously seen 'The Last King of Scotland' which is a great film with Forrest Whittickers finest performance as Idi Amin. I never quite realised how accurate his portrayal was. Idi Amin is a ridiculous world leader, who was responsible for the murder of 300,000 people. The film is similar to 'The Act of Killing', where the film invites you to relate with a killer while staring evil straight in the eye.

  Despite Idi Amin's kind and heroic ideology, he is completely insane. He fetishises weapons and artillery, he has 18 kids (and divorced 3 wives because they were not revolutionary enough) and his entire regime was amateur and messy. He acts completely psychotic with a loyal country behind him. He may have kicked out all of the Asians which were previously running Uganda, and have the revolutionary ideology many countries aspire to have a leader with, but he is appalling at run a country.

  It's amazing that Schroeder and his team were allowed to film extensively with one of the most infamous dictators who has ever lived. Idi Amin is a tall, scary and frighteningly powerful leader, and even being in the same room as him must have been distressing. Idi Amin was expecting a propaganda film, but what Schroeder made was a one of a kind, chilling, mind-boggling documentary. It's remarkable this film was even made. This film works as an insight into 1970s Uganda and the infamous Idi Amin dictatorship, but as a film drops short. I don't know if it was my high hopes for the film, but I found the film uncomfortable and even boring in places. He is a unique and daunting person (to say the least), but 90 minutes of him talking to camera isn't enjoyable at all. About 95% of the film has Idi Amin's face in shot, a sight that isn't pretty. It seems too long, but that may be because of the repetition. Interviews with others about Idi Amin would be more than welcome.

Intriguing and chilling documentary about one of the most psychotic leaders the world has ever known.


Monday, 23 June 2014

The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959)

  'The Ghost of Yotsuya' (Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan) is a 1959 Japanese horror film directed by Nobuo Nakagawa.

  Tamiya is a samurai who wants to marry Iwa, and kills her father (and several of his men) to do so. Naosuke, a friend of Tamiya, witnesses the murder and helps him dispose of the bodies. Tamiya decides to poison Iwa and her admirer, but he gets a lot more than he asks for.

  There are many classic Japanese ghost films, but few make it overseas. The most famous are 'Ugetsu', 'Kwaidan' and 'Kuroneko', which are all brilliant films, but none of them exceed creepy. That is where 'The Ghost of Yotsuya' excels. The final half of the film is constantly shocking, and has plenty of startling scares. Similar in this aspect to Nakagawa's next film 'Jigoku', which has a dull first 2/3rds, and a terrifying finale based in hell. Both these films have the scariest scenes I have seen in pre-1960 classic cinema (except for 'Onibaba'), which is a huge achievement in itself.

  One of the problems with 'Jigoku' was that the film was excruciatingly boring from the beginning until the trip to hell. The film did a poor job of character introduction and it didn't have any interesting scenes in it whatsoever. 'The Ghost of Yotsuya' doesn't have this problem and is thrilling from the first scene, although shit does get real the closer it gets towards the end.

  All Japanese ghost films have the same major problem, that is the characters are nasty evil characters. It feels great when they finally do get their comeuppance, but in the meantime they make the film tough to like. The problem would be bigger in other genres, but in these films the stunning colourful visuals and the continual strange events seem to counter the problem pretty well. 'Ghosts of Yotsuya' never stops to take a breath, with exciting events happening throughout its short runtime. Nakagawa really does take you on a dark and horrifying journey.

An exhilarating horror film from the first scene. Unknown and absolutely terrifying.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Kinema Junpo Top 200 Japanese Films

The Kinema Junpo 'best of Japan' lists happen once every ten years. It's a list filled with many obscure films, most of which are impossible to watch with English subtitles. I love this list due to the high hit/miss ratio, and that no-one has heard of 90% of these films. The titles in green are the films I have seen, the titles in red are the films I have not seen. This list is by the readers instead of the critics.


01 SEVEN SAMURAI- Akira Kurosawa
Considered by everyone to be the greatest Japanese film ever. It's number 20 on the IMDB top 250, and is loved by everyone.

02 TOKYO STORY- Yasujirô Ozu
Placed number 1 on the Director's Sight and Sound top 10. I find people only watch this Ozu film and move on, but he is a flawless director. My favourite would be Tokyo Twilight.

03 IKIRU- Akira Kurosawa
The story is a man gets cancer and builds a playground. It doesn't sound like a number 3 film, but it really is. Takeshi Shimura appeared in 21 Kurosawa films, but this is his career defining performance.

04 THE CASTLE OF SAND- Yoshitaro Nomura
Incredible film. One half detective drama, one half gliding epic. The police investigation will keep you gripped and the ending is absolutely wonderful.

05 FLOATING CLOUDS- Mikio Naruse
Number 202 on the Sight and Sound top 250. Naruse is often mentioned in the same breath as Ozu, Mizoguchi and Kurosawa, but not many people have seen any of his films. 'Floating Clouds' tells the story of two lovers who never seem to be together. Hideko Takamine plays the "strong willed woman" which seems to be evident in most of Naruse's films. The opening is beautiful and the ending is devastating, although the rest of it could have been improved.

06 TWENTY-FOUR EYES- Keisuke Kinoshita
Loved in Japan, but was released in the same year as Seven Samurai so is often overlooked. The film spans 20 years in the life of a school teacher in a remote rural area of Japan. The wonderful relationship between the students and the teacher could only be made by the Japanese.

Enthralling crime thriller, where there is a ten year gap between the crime and the investigation. The acting is incredible. 

08 RED BEARD- Akira Kurosawa
Slow start, but a flawless final third. The three hour runtime flies by, with some great acting and fantastic character development. The last Mifune/Kurosawa collaboration.

09 HIGH AND LOW- Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa's best crime film. It stars both Nakadai and Mifune, Japan's two finest actors, and is tense throughout its 143 minute runtime.

10 MUDDY RIVER- Kôhei Oguri
Very subtle film, inspired heavily by Ozu, about a child and his new neighbours that live on a boat in the river. 

11 YOJIMBO- Akira Kurosawa
The story of Yojimbo was adapted into A Fistful of Dollars. Currently 106 on the IMDB top 250. The sequel is Sanjuro, which I think is better than the original, but both need to watch again before I can confirm a score as there has been years since I have seen either of them.

This very early Miyazaki work is a fun and clever caper.

The first film that obtained Studio Ghibili world-wide recognition. The film is a fantastic piece of science fiction, with a message that should resonate even more today then when it was released.

14 THE MAN WHO STOLE THE SUN- Kazuhiko Hasegawa

15 HARAKIRI- Masaki Kobayashi
Word is spreading about how amazing this film is. Tatsuya Nakadai's best performance in this unforgettable film. Definitely in my all time top 10.

16 I ARE YOU, YOU AM ME- Nobuhiko Obayashi
A tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl switches body, boy is now a girl and girl is now a boy. Two great (and brave) performances by the lead actors. Its hilarious and moving at the same time. I just really love Obayashi and his wonderful world he has created. This was remade in 2007. Both the original and the remake are completely unknown outside of Japan.

17 UGETSU- Kenji Mizoguchi
One of the films that introduced Japan to the world. It's a ghost story set in 16th Century Japan during the civil wars. There is nothing like it in the whole of cinema.

18 LOVE LETTER- Shunji Iwai

19 LONELY HEART- Nobuhiko Obayashi

20 THE LIFE OF OHARU- Kenji Mizoguchi
The life of a prostitute set in 17th Century.

21 VENGEANCE IS MINE- Shôhei Imamura
A violent and shocking film about a serial killer.

A melancholic road movie between three strangers. as they journey to Hokkaido. A beautiful film that is sure to make you cry during the finale

23 EARLY SUMMER- Yasujirô Ozu
Very similar to all of Ozu's other seasonal works. This one is about an arranged marriage.

24 GODZILLA- Ishirô Honda
It has 27 sequels and has been remade by Hollywood twice.

Remade as an anime in 2006 and remade again as live-action in 2010. The only Obayashi film currently available is the cult favourite Hausu. His experimental films are scattered all across this list. I enjoyed this film more than I felt I should have. Tomoyo Harada plays Kazuko, a teenage schoolgirl, who spills a chemical in the school science lab and is then able to travel through time. Excellent film, especially the time travel scenes. This is more of a love story than a sci-fi, so it is not to everyone's taste (there have been some really negative reviews).

26 FALL GUY- Kinji Fukasaku

27 CASTLE IN THE SKY- Hayao Miyazaki
A wonderful Studio Ghibili film. Definitely one of their most loved.

Ichikawa's most known film in Japan, but is completely unheard of in the west. A death and the reading of a Will leads to a series of murders in the large and despicable Inugami family. Quite confusing in places, but very entertaining.

The most critically acclaimed samurai film made in the 21st Century.

30 RASHÔMON- Akira Kurosawa
Japanese cinema was completely unknown in the west before this came along in 1950. Currently 93 on the IMDB top 250. I need to watch it again to give it an honest score.

I watched the blu-ray and enjoyed this film immensely. It's both funny and heartwarming, with a great finale.

Featured on A Story of Film: An Odyssey. This documentary is unlike any thing I have ever seen. It follows Kenzo Okuzaki as he visits the members of his army regiment, to uncover the secrets about the deaths of two soldiers. It is a really thought-provoking and ground-breaking documentary.

The first of 48 Tora-San films, following the life of a yakuza returning to his hometown. Each of the films have a similar story (he returns to home, he falls in love, things go wrong), but were deeply loved in Japan. I had to import the dvd from America to watch these (a month later someone uploads all 48 to YouTube -.-), and thought they were great. Yoji Yamada, a master director, together with the wonderful cast (including Chrishu Ryu and Takashi Shimura), create a franchise which is truly heart-warming and magical.

34 KIDS RETURN- Takeshi Kitano

35 MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO- Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Ghibili's most iconic film. It's impossible not to smile throughout making it great for kids.

Sadao Yamanaka's last film before he was sent to war and killed. Not as brilliant as his 100 Ryo Pot film, but still bloody marvellous.

37 SHALL WE DANCE?- Masayuki Suo

Only three of Sadao Yamanaka's films exist. This is the earliest, and is a pretty well-known story in Japan.

39 THE FAMILY GAME- Yoshimitsu Morita
This hard to find film, is about a typical Japanese family, thrown into jeopardy, when a private tutor is hired to help the son. This film is very 80s. Morita focuses on the relationship of the son and the tutor, and how daunting society's expectations of success in school are.

40 ZIGEUNERWEISEN- Seijun Suzuki

41 LATE SPRING- Yasujirô Ozu
The first film in his seasonal series of films. This one concerns a widowed father and the marriage of his daughter.

42 THE HIDDEN FORTRESS- Akira Kurosawa
One of my favourite Kurosawa films. George Lucas stole part of the story for Star Wars.

I randomly watched this, and was stunned. It's a crazy Japanese new wave film, about remembering childhood. Everything is nice and happy, until about a third of the way through the runtime, when he realizes his childhood was terrible. What ensues is a nightmarish version of what happened previously. Terayama is an brilliant auteur, and this is a great starting place for those new to him.

44 SONATINE- Takeshi Kitano

45 NOBODY KNOWS- Hirokazu Koreeda
Beautiful and devastating film about a group of children, whose mother leaves them alone. My favourite Koreeda so far (He is one of the few auteurs that is still making fresh and exciting films).

46 THE CRUCIFIED LOVERS- Kenji Mizoguchi
Another great period film from Mizoguchi. His most tragic.

47 STRAY DOG- Akira Kurosawa
A man steals a colt from a policeman, and goes on a killing spree with the seven bullets in the gun. Not as good as Drunken Angel, but still a great film.

48 DEPARTURES- Yôjirô Takita
It won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2009. Definitely deserved. A wonderfully crafted film, that is genuinely beautiful.

A film that shows one family's struggles as they migrate to Northern Japan. Completely breathtaking and deeply engrossing. Yamada's direction and the remarkable performances by the cast made me care about this family as I personally knew them.

50 THE HUMAN CONDITION- Masaki Kobayashi
My favourite film. Set in three parts and lasting almost 10 hours. Every camera shot is beautiful, Tatsuya Nakadai is a phenomenal acting as the protagonist, and the story is about as epic as you can get. The first part is set in a Chinese POW camp in Japan, the second part is training for war and the third part is behind enemy lines in Russia.

51 HER BROTHER- Kon Ichikawa
More commonly known as 'Younger Brother', Ichikawa's film shows the ups and downs of the relationship between a sister and her juvenile brother. One of the saddest films on the list, so bring tissues if you like a good cry.


The best 1930's Mizoguchi film. It's not flawless, and is remarkable for the time.

54 HULA GIRLS- Lee Sang-il

55 THE NAKED ISLAND- Kaneto Shindô
Not a word is spoken throughout its runtime. The peaceful yet harsh life of a family living on a desolate island is utterly mesmerizing.

56 THE INSECT WOMAN- Shôhei Imamura

The first of six films in the Yakuza Papers series. Plenty of lively characters,  many gruesome deaths and a fast-moving plot make this engaging and hugely enjoyable to watch. All 5 films in the series are brilliant, although I agree with Kinema Junpo that the first and third are superior.

58 THE DEVIL'S BALLAD- Kon Ichikawa

59 TIMES OF JOY AND SORROW- Keisuke Kinoshita

60 SANJURO- Akira Kurosawa
Better than the first one. I still need to rewatch them.

The fifteenth Tora-San film.

62 THE ROCKING HORSEMEN- Nobuhiko Obayashi

63 CHIZUKO'S YOUNGER SISTER- Nobuhiko Obayashi

64 THE CHERRY ORCHARD- Shun Nakahara

65 FOUNDRY TOWN- Kiriro Urayama


All of his films in his late period are great movies. This film is one of his most profound.

68 WET SAND IN AUGUST- Toshiya Fujita

69 BULLET TRAIN- Junya Sato

The third Yukuza Papers film. The whole film is build-up, with underbosses switching sides and pledging allegiances with other Yakuza. Even though the pay off is in the fourth instalment, it doesn't stop this film being constantly exciting.

71 CURE- Kiyoshi Kurosawa

72 THE YOUTH KILLER- Kazuhiko Hasegawa

73 KAMIKAZE GIRLS- Tetsuya Nakashima

The best four hours you can spend. You won't want it to stop

75 HANA AND ALICE- Shunji Iwai

76 FIGHTING ELEGY- Seijun Suzuki
My first Suzuki film. I have heard many things about how crazy ad whack his films are. Turns out they are true. This film is about rebellious youth, young love and rival gangs. It's told in a zany and uncontrollable way, that makes the film stand out above the rest. It's a great, fast-paced film to watch.

77 THE IVORY TOWER- Satsuo Yamamoto

78 BROTHEL NO. 8- Kei Kumai
79 DISTANT THUNDER- Kichitaro Negishi

80 BREAK THROUGH!- Kazuyuki Izutsu



83 MEMORIES OF MATSUKO- Tetsuya Nakashima
Visually crazy, and uses a few awful choices of soundtrack. Confessions is a far superior film.

84 MR. THANK YOU- Hiroshi Shimizu

85 DOUBLE SUICIDE- Masahiro Shinoda

86 THE RENDEZVOUS- Kôichi Saitô

Starring David Bowie.

88 TOKYO HEAVEN- Shinji Sômai

89 PRINCESS MONONOKE- Hayao Miyazaki
My favourite Studio Ghibli film. A beautiful adventure into a wonderful fantasy world.

90 SWING GIRLS- Shinobu Yaguchi


92 STILL WALKING- Hirokazu Kore-eda
This could be an Ozu film. Peaceful, meditative and a expertly crafted.

The worst Ozu film I have seen. It was also my second, so maybe it needs a second viewing.

94 IMMORTAL LOVE- Keisuke Kinoshita
Melodramatic with a Spanish flamenco soundtrack. Tatsuya Nakadai plays an evil character for a change.

There is a live-action remake being released soon. The original is a classic that is criminally under-seen.



98 GONIN- Takashi Ishii

99 GRAVEYARD OF HONOR- Kinji Fukasaku
Part of a Yakuza box-set I recently purchased. This film tells the true story of a powerful Yakuza member and his uncontrollable self-destructive behaviour. It's violent tale that is expertly told in an rock and roll way. The wide-screen action is very fast-paced, keeping me entertained and engaged thoroughly throughout.

100 SPIRITED AWAY- Hayao Miyazaki
Won the Oscar for best animated film 2001. Widely considered to be the greatest anime film ever made. No wonder as its a colourful portal into a breathtaking world that's unlike any other.

101 STREET WITHOUT END- Mikio Naruse

102 I LIVE IN FEAR- Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa's worst film. Everyone else seems to like it though.

103 HUSBAND AND WIFE- Mikio Naruse

104 THE GHOST OF YOTSUYA- Nobuo Nakagawa
Available on YouTube HERE
The scariest pre-1960 film I have seen. The film crescendos into some shocking final scenes.

105 THE CEREMONY- Nagisa Ôshima
My first Oshima film is very dark. 

106 STATION- Yasuo Furuhata

107 FIREWORKS- Takeshi Kitano
Kitano's most critically acclaimed film about a cop with a dying wife and a suicidal friend.

108 THE HUMAN BULLET- Kihachi Okamoto

109 A SCENE AT THE SEA- Takeshi Kitano

110 THE HIDDEN BLADE- Yôji Yamada
A retelling of The Twilight Samurai, but also very good. I actually preferred this! Fans of action will be disappointed, but its replaced with character development and beautiful landscapes. I adore the unique meditative atmosphere and the greatly developed characters.

111 SUMMER DAYS WITH COO- Keiichi Hara

112 THE DEMON- Yoshitaro Nomura

113 MACARTHUR'S CHILDREN- Masahiro Shinoda
Post-war Japan set on an island village, showing the struggles of the villagers attempting to return to normal life after the losing the war. It's comical and upbeat, making the film easy to enjoy. Although it is nothing too significant.



116 THE EEL- Shôhei Imamura
Takuro comes home to find his wife having intercourse with another man. He kills her. 8 years go past and he returns to the small village, and opens a barber shop. Imamura is fantastic, with each of his films having a distinct vibe and striking visual detail. However this film is the least distinctive. Still, a fine film that doesn't quite go the mile, like Imamura's other films.

117 I JUST DIDN'T DO IT- Masayuki Suo

118 LIGHTNING- Mikio Naruse

119 INTENTIONS OF MURDER- Shôhei Imamura

120 DAIMAJIN- Kimiyoshi Yasuda

121 BOY- Nagisa Ôshima

122 THE CATCH- Shinji Sômai

123 RYUJI- Toru Kawashima

124 SANSHO THE BAILIFF- Kenji Mizoguchi
Mizoguchi's finest film. A tragic story about two wealthy children which are taken from their mother to live a life of slavery. Set in medieval times, the mythic landscape is gorgeous.

125 TOKYO OLYMPIAD- Kon Ichikawa

126 TAKE CARE, RED RIDING HOOD- Shirô Moritani

127 EUREKA- Shinji Aoyama
I saw this film far too long ago, so I'll have to give it a second watch before submitting a score.

128 THE FACE OF JIZO- Kazuo Kuroki

129 CARMEN COMES HOME- Keisuke Kinoshita

130 VACUUM ZONE- Satsuo Yamamoto

131 YEARNING- Mikio Naruse

132 JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY- Kihachi Okamoto

133 WOMAN IN THE DUNES- Hiroshi Teshigahara
An entomologist gets trapped in a hole in the middle of the desert, with a widow for company. They eventually fall for each other as his escapes get more and more desperate.

134 THIRD- Yôichi Higashi

135 THE FUNERAL- Jûzô Itami


137 SISTERS OF THE GION- Kenji Mizoguchi
Mediocre film from Mizoguchi's early period.

138 STAKEOUT- Yoshitaro Nomura

139 THE RICKSHAW MAN- Hiroshi Inagaki

140 DEATH BY HANGING- Nagisa Ôshima

141 FAILED YOUTH- Tatsumi Kumashiro


143 MOTHER- Mikio Naruse

144 THE GARDEN OF WOMEN- Keisuke Kinoshita

145 GIANTS AND TOYS- Yasuzo Masumura

146 AKITSU SPRINGS- Yoshishige Yoshida

147 SCATTERED CLOUDS- Mikio Naruse

148 MIRRORED MIND- Sogo Ishii

149 TONDA COUPLE- Shinji Sômai

150 TYPHOON CLUB- Shinji Sômai

151 MY SONS- Yôji Yamada

152 (HARU)-Yoshimitsu Morita

153 LINDA LINDA LINDA- Nobuhiro Yamashita

154 SUMMER TIME MACHINE BLUES- Katsuyuki Motohiro


156 I WAS BORN, BUT...- Yasujirô Ozu
Ozu's most acclaimed silent film.


158 DRUNKEN ANGEL- Akira Kurosawa
His first known film is a personal favourite. Shimura and Mifune are excellent in this gripping crime thriller.

159 WHERE CHIMNEYS ARE SEEN- Heinosuke Gosho

160 13 ASSASSINS- Eiichi Kudo
Thirteen samurai vow to take revenge on a feudal lord.

161 THE AGE OF ASSASSINS- Kihachi Okamoto

162 KAGERÔ-ZA- Seijun Suzuki


164 KAMIKAZE TAXI- Masato Harada

165 RING- Hideo Nakata
That horror film with the cursed videotape. Many sequels, remakes and sequels of remakes. I bought the trilogy the other day. The first is a tense and very claustrophobic horror film that genuinely scared me in places (nothing scares me, so this is an achievement). The Second film feels similar to the first one, but the story gets increasingly ridiculous, and the overall atmosphere never manages to reach the terrifying heights of the first film. The third film 'Ring 0-Birthday' is a pointless prequel that is completely unnecessary and not scary whatsoever. The first is most definitely the best.

166 NABBIE'S LOVE- Yuji Nakae

167 PRIEST OF DARKNESS- Sadao Yamanaka
His second existing film, and the least known. It is still enjoyable, and feels very similar to his other two films.

168 SINGING LOVEBIRDS- Masahiro Makino

169 THE BALL AT THE ANJO HOUSE- Kozaburo Yoshimura

170 TILL WE MEET AGAIN- Tadashi Imai


172 GALAXY EXPRESS 999- Rintaro

173 A TAXING WOMAN- Jûzô Itami


175 AFTER LIFE- Hirokazu Koreeda
The film takes place in Limbo, where a group try and recreate the memories of the deceased. The wonderful story, peaceful tone and great direction make After Life a pleasant viewing.

176 PULSE- Kiyoshi Kurosawa

177 HUSH!- Ryosuke Hashiguchi

178 THE BURIED FOREST- Kôhei Oguri