Thursday, December 05, 2013
Directed by Wong Kar-Wai and written by Kar-Wai and Jeffrey Lau, As Tears Go By is the story about a small-time gangster trying to go straight while keeping his friend out of trouble as the visit from his young cousin also complicate things. The film is a gangster film of sorts that mixes Kar-Wai’s romanticism that would be prevalent in his later films. Starring Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, and Jacky Cheung. As Tears Go By is a brilliantly stylish crime-drama from Wong Kar-Wai.
The film is a simple story about a small-time gangster who takes in his second-cousin to stay at his place where he falls for her while dealing with the chaos his best friend has created against rival factions. It’s a film that recalls elements of Martin Scorsese’s 1973 film Mean Streets that has a similar premise about a small-time hoodlum wanting to go straight while trying to get his friend out of trouble. Yet, Wong Kar-Wai infuses that premise with something much more as the character of Wah (Andy Lau) is dealing with his role as a hoodlum who works for the biggest boss of Hong Kong in Uncle Kwan (Ching Wai) while the arrival of his second-cousin Ngor (Maggie Cheung) has him thinking about a life out of that world. Still, he is devoted to his best friend Fly (Jacky Cheung) who is eager to make a name for himself but manages to cause trouble as well as conflict with another small-time hoodlum in Tony (Alex Man).
The script by Kar-Wai and Jeffrey Lau does have a lot of typical aspects that is expected in the crime drama where it is about these small-time hoods trying to climb up the ranks so they can lead their own gang and become a top boss. Wah doesn’t have that ambition as he just wants to do his job and get paid but his friendship with Fly causes issues as Fly has the ambition but not the professionalism to do so. Especially when Uncle Kwan is looking for someone to do a big job in killing an informant so that he wouldn’t go to prison. Wah’s encounter with Ngor has him wanting to leave the life as he becomes aware of how fleeting it is as the time he has with Ngor becomes far more fulfilling. Yet, he becomes conflicted with his love for Ngor and his devotion to Fly that would lead to some trouble consequences.
Kar-Wai’s direction is definitely full of style from the way he presents some of the film’s violent moments but also finds something that is entrancing in the way it plays out. Notably as he plays with frame-speeds to create some intense moments while adding a sense of flair to the way some of the violent moments and the meetings between hoods and bosses happen. Kar-Wai knows where to place the camera in these moments while creating something that is loose and also unpredictable in the way the violence occurs. Kar-Wai would add something similar to the romantic elements of the film where it is played with these gorgeous images and compositions where there’s bit of humor but it is largely romantic. Though it is sort of uneven in tone, Kar-Wai does find way to play into that conflict that Wah has to deal with that does lead to this very intense climax about what he has to do for himself. Overall, Kar-Wai crafts a very sensational yet ravishing film about a man trying to leave behind his life of crime.
Cinematographer Wai-keung Lau does amazing work with the film‘s colorful cinematography that plays into Kar-Wai‘s visual style with its vibrant colors for some of the exterior scenes at night as well as its use of lighting for some of the interior scenes. Editors William Chang and Bei-Dak Cheong do fantastic work with the editing with its use of jump-cuts and frame-speeds that would also play into Kar-Wai‘s presentation while Chang also does the production design for some of the clubs the characters go to as well as homes that Wah and Ngor live in. The film’s music by Danny Chung and Teddy Robin Kwan is excellent for its mixture of moody synthesizer-based music with some raucous guitar tones for some of the suspense while its soundtrack includes a lot of Asian pop music of the time that includes an effective cover of Berlin’s Take My Breath Away.
The film’s superb cast includes some notable small roles from Ching Wai as triad leader Uncle Kwan, production designer/co-editor William Chang as a doctor friend of Ngor, and Ronald Wong as Fly’s protégé Site whose encounters with Fly’s troubles has him wanting to leave the life for something normal. Alex Man is terrific as the very antagonistic hoodlum Tony who likes to goad Fly into fighting while maintaining his status as a hoodlum who is eager to be next in line as top boss. Jacky Cheung is fantastic as Fly as he is someone full of energy as this small-time hood eager to make a name for himself as Cheung is fun to watch as it would include some moments where he deals with humility.
Maggie Cheung is just radiant as Ngor as this young woman who arrives to Wah’s home to stay for a few days for a medical checkup as she has this understated quality to someone who could steer Wah into something more as it’s definitely one of her finest. Finally, there’s Andy Lau in a marvelous performance as Wah as this very reserved yet dangerous man who deals with the bleakness of his future as he’s also conflicted into helping Fly or go into a far more safer life with Ngor where he and Cheung definitely have some chemistry as they’re one of the film’s major highlights.
As Tears Go By is a remarkable debut film from Wong Kar-Wai that is highlighted by the incredible performances of Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, and Jacky Cheung. While it is a bit uneven in its tone, the film is still an engaging one for its evocative imagery and its unique approach to crime and drama. Especially in the way Kar-Wai would match all sorts of things like music and image to create something special. In the end, As Tears Go By is a rapturous film from Wong Kar-Wai.
Wong Kar-Wai Films: (Days of Being Wild) - Chungking Express - Ashes of Time/Ashes of Time Redux - (Fallen Angels) - Happy Together - In the Mood for Love - 2046 - Eros-The Hand - My Blueberry Nights - The Grandmaster - (The Auteurs #28: Wong Kar-Wai)
© thevoid99 2013
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Written, edited, and directed by Jonas Cuaron, Aningaaq is a seven-minute short film about Inuit fisherman who talks to an astronaut stranded in outer space through a two-way radio. The short is an accompanying piece to the 2013 film Gravity that Jonas co-wrote with his father Alfonso as it features the voice of Sandra Bullock with Orto Ignatiussen as the titular character. The result is a fascinating short from Jonas Cuaron.
The film is essentially a scene where an Inuit fisherman is fishing at a fjord where he tries to communicate through a two-way radio for help only to finding himself talking to the stranded astronaut Ryan Stone (the voice of Sandra Bullock). It’s a scene that showcases the point of view of Aningaaq who is just a simple fisherman as he has no idea what Stone is talking about yet they manage to communicate in this very poignant scene. It’s a simple piece that is directed with such simplicity by Jonas Cuaron that showcases a moment that is happening from the other side as it features the same voice and dialogue that the Stone character is talking to as she is stranded alone in outer space trying to survive.
Through Cuaron’s methodical yet understated editing and his gazing camera where he creates some unique compositions. It’s a short that is just full of these tender yet touching moments that is also captured with such beauty by cinematographer Alexis Zabe as well as the evocative sound design of Pablo Lach that would underscore Steven Price’s music in the background. Even as the film features some low-key yet effective visual effects by Kyle McCullough and Raul Prado to help play into the film’s story. Yet, the film really belongs to Orto Ignatiussen who is full of charm in this very understated performance. Overall, Jonas Cuaron creates a truly mesmerizing short film in Aningaaq that serves as a fitting companion to his father’s film Gravity.
© thevoid99 2013
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu and written by Ozu and Kogo Noda, Early Summer is the story about a woman who gets a visit from her uncle who thinks she should get married as her family tries to find a good prospect for her while she deals with issues in her own life. The film is an exploration into the changing ways in postwar Japan as well as the rise of women taking their own roles with their lives. Starring Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, Chikage Awashima, and Kuniko Miyake. Early Summer is a glorious yet touching film from Yasujiro Ozu.
The film is about the life of a family living in suburban Tokyo where they all support each other when they get a visit from a relative. There, the man suggests that it’s time for his 28-year old niece Noriko (Setsuko Hara) to find herself a good husband as the family tries to find men who is worthy of her yet Noriko isn’t so sure about getting married. Even as she is a modern woman with friends who had gotten married but aren’t happy about it while times are also changing in Japan prompting the family to face reality of what is happening. It’s all set in a postwar Japan where the country is coming into its own again economically though the social traditions is still in tact. Yet, there’s this emerging sense of modernism that is prevalent where the ideas of tradition might fall by the wayside as Noriko is someone who represents this conflict as she wants to make her own decisions but doesn’t want to upset her parents and older brother Koichi (Chishu Ryu).
The film’s screenplay by Yasujiro Ozu and Kogo Noda take its time in the dynamic of this family where Noriko and her brother Koichi live in a home with their parents Shukichi and Shige (Ichiro Sugai and Chieko Higashiyama, respectively), Koichi’s wife Fumiko, and their sons Minoru (Zen Murase) and Isamu (Isao Shirosawa) as Noriko is a secretary and Koichi is a prominent physician. The visit from their uncle (Kokuten Kodo) who keeps asking about why Noriko isn’t married raises a lot of questions as Noriko is often asked by her boss Satake (Shuji Sano) about meeting a friend of his whom Koichi would see if he’s good enough for his sister. Yet, Noriko is confused as her friend Aya (Chikage Awashima) who is unmarried as she is also unsure if she wants to play into tradition. Then there’s Noriko and Koichi’s childhood friend Kenkichi Yabe (Hiroshi Nihonyanagi) who is a widower with a child as he lives with his mother (Haruko Sugimura) as he also helps out though he’s got moments in his life that is changing where it would also complicate things.
The script also revels in this world that is changing where Noriko’s parents are aware that having Noriko getting married would also cause a splinter in the family as they would live with Shukichi’s brother while Koichi and Fumiko would stay at the house with their kids. It would lead to this third act about the decision that Noriko would eventually make yet it becomes clear that it’s not going to be an easy one. Yet, her eventual decision doesn’t just play into this conflict about traditionalism and modernism but also about what Noriko wants in her life. Of course, the family’s reaction isn’t just mixed but also a bit shocking as they have no idea what to think but it’s also clear that there’s some things that traditionalism can’t deal with as times are changing.
Ozu’s direction is definitely wondrous in the way he captures the life of an ordinary family in Tokyo. Notably as it plays to that very evocative yet simplistic approach to the way he presents a scene. Much of it is shot in a single, static shot where the camera doesn’t move as it’s positioned in a wide or a medium shot to display what is going on in the scene. It all plays into this world that this family live in as there’s an intimacy that is prevalent throughout in some of light-hearted moments but also in some dramatic moments such as scene where Minoru and Isamo are upset that their father brought home a loaf of bread instead of the train tracks they wanted. Even in the way Ozu positions the camera for a dinner scene with Noriko, Aya, and their married friends is unique to showcase not just a sense of division that is emerging but the sense of the fact that times are changing.
Much of the way Ozu presents this conflict is told very subtly where he doesn’t do a lot of movements with the camera with the exception of a few dolly shots in a scene where Noriko’s parents are watching a play with Shukichi’s brother as well as a shot where Noriko and Fumiko are walking on the beach. Still, Ozu maintains something that is quite simple and poignant where he knows where to put the camera in a scene and to play out a certain reaction shot. Much of it has him not wanting to use a lot of close-ups by focusing more on a conversation scene as he knows where to put the actors into a frame. Especially for the film’s eventual scene where Noriko makes her decision as Ozu’s framing and the way he puts the actors into the frame becomes crucial for the film’s dramatic climax. Overall, Ozu crafts a very exhilarating yet engrossing film about a family dealing with changing times as well as dealing with a young woman’s future.
Cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography with the low-key look of the scenes at the beach and some of the daytime interior and exterior settings to the scenes set at night with lighting by Itsuo Takashita to help set the mood. Editor Yoshiyasu Hamamura does nice work with the editing where it‘s mostly straightforward to play out the drama and some of its humor while using fade-outs to help structure the film. Art director Tatsuo Hamada and set decorator Shotaro Hashimoto do amazing work with the set pieces such as the home the family lives in that is quite spacious but also quaint in its look.
Costume designer Taizo Saito does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly straightforward with the exception of the robes that Noriko‘s parents wear. Sound recorder Yoshisaburo Seno does superb work with the sound to capture the intimacy of what goes on in the house as well as some of the scenes set in Tokyo and in the train stations. The film’s music by Senji Ito is just exquisite for its serene yet somber orchestral score to play into some of the drama without embellishing it as it is one of the film’s major highlights.
The film’s brilliant cast includes some notable small yet effective performances from Haruko Sugimura as Kenkichi’s mother who ponders about her son’s life as he is still a widower, Shuji Sano as Noriko’s boss Satake who suggests to Noriko about meeting a friend of his as a potential prospect, Kokuten Kodo as Shukichi’s brother who brings up the subject of marriage, and Chikage Awashima as Noriko’s friend Aya who ponders about the idea of marriage as she isn’t sure after learning from friends on the downside of it. Zen Maruse and Isao Shirosawa are terrific as Koichi and Fumiko’s young sons Minoru and Isamu, respectively, as they’re two boys obsessed with trains as they test the patience of their elders. Hiroshi Nihonyanagi is excellent as Koichi and Noriko’s childhood friend Kenkichi as a fellow doctor who helps the family with some problems while dealing with his own circumstances in his career.
Ichiro Sugai and Chieko Higashiyama are amazing as Noriko and Koichi’s parents in Shukichi and Shige, respectively, as they carry a sense of warmth and wisdom as two parents who want what’s best for Noriko while dealing with the fact that times are changing as it would play into Noriko’s eventual decision. Kuniko Miyake is wonderful as Koichi’s wife Fumiko as the observer of sorts in the family as she also voices her opinion on a few things while wondering the effect of Noriko’s eventual decision. Chishu Ryu is fantastic as Noriko’s older brother Koichi as a doctor who tries to see if the prospect that Satake suggests is any good while dealing with his own family as well as up holding a sense of tradition in that family. Finally, there’s Setsuko Hara in an incredible performance as Noriko as a 28-year old woman dealing with the ideas of old and new ideas as she is eager to make her own decision but wants to respect the wishes of her family as it’s a truly mesmerizing performance for the actress.
Early Summer is a majestic film from Yasujiro Ozu. Thanks to its cast and touching portrait of a family going through changing times while finding a prospective husband for their daughter. It’s a film that is truly engaging for the way it explores tradition clashing with modernism as well as the life of a family that is truly universal for an audience to relate to. In the end, Early Summer is a remarkable film from Yasujiro Ozu.
Yasujiro Ozu Films: (Sword of Penitence) - (Days of Youth) - (Tokyo Chorus) - I Was Born, But... - (Dragnet Girl) - (Passing Fancy) - (A Mother Should Be Loved) - A Story of Floating Weeds - (An Inn in Tokyo) - (The Only Son) - (What Did the Lady Forget?) - (Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family) - (There Was a Father) - (The Record of a Tenement Gentleman) - (A Hen in the Wind) - Late Spring - (The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice) - Tokyo Story - (Early Spring) - (Tokyo Twilight) - (Equinox Flower) - (Good Morning) - Floating Weeds - (Late Autumn) - (The End of Summer) - (An Autumn Afternoon)
© thevoid99 2013
Monday, December 02, 2013
Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 2/21/10 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.
Based on Thomas Cobb’s novel, Crazy Heart tells the story of an aging country music singer whose life is unfulfilling as he is playing small bars and clubs while succumbing to alcoholism. A meeting with a young journalist/single mother changes his life while he is asked by his old protégée to come out of obscurity while dealing with demons. Written for the screen and directed by Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart is a tale of redemption and hope as Jeff Bridges plays the role of Bad Blake in what many consider to be one of his finest performances. Also starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Beth Grant, and Jack Nation along with special appearances from co-producer Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell. Crazy Heart is an excellent yet entertaining musical-drama from Scott Cooper and company.
The film is a simple story about a 57-year old country/western singer named Bad Blake who was once popular as he has become a boozed, washed-up singer playing tiny clubs in the American Southwest who drives city to city at a truck. Upon meeting a journalist named Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and getting the chance to open and write new songs for his former protégé Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). Blake’s life seems to be in an upswing but his alcoholism would cause trouble as he begins a relationship with Jean and her four-year old son Buddy (Jack Nation) while recuperating from a car accident as he has a hard time trying to beat the bottle with help from friend Wayne (Robert Duvall) in the hopes he can find redemption.
While the story is a bit familiar in comparison to another film about an aging figure trying to find redemption and a comeback in the form of Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 film The Wrestler. The story of an aging country singer trying to make a comeback and deal with his alcoholism is an appealing story despite being a bit clichéd. Still, screenwriter and director Scott Cooper does make the story engaging while providing strong supporting characters to be revolved around a figure like Bad Blake. A man who is charming and fun to be with but is also hard-headed and full of pride about what he wants to do.
In meeting Jean and her son Buddy, he finds a reason to maybe quit drinking and be the kind of person he never got to be for his own son. The character of Tommy Sweet is a man who idolizes Blake while wanting to return a favor so Blake can get his career back on track. Cooper’s direction is very good in terms of getting actors to dramatize a scene or capture what is going on in the country music scene. Even as he also take shots towards the modern world of country music which has become very polished and more pop in recent years though the characters of Tommy and Blake are anything but the commercialized world of country. The former of which is successful but maintains an authentic sound. Despite a few flaws in the story and directing that isn’t very flashy or stylized, Scott Cooper does create a solid film.
Cinematographer Barry Markowitz does some phenomenal work with the film’s colorful yet gritty cinematography to convey the roughness of Southwestern U.S. with some beautiful scenery of the sky in the daytime and evening scenes. The nighttime interiors for some of the club performances is wonderful for its intimate setting as Markowitz’s work is very good. Editor John Axelrod does a fine job with the film’s editing which is mostly straightforward with its cuts with some nice transitions and jump-cuts to get the film going. Production designer Waldemar Kalinowski along with set decorator Clara Curry and art director Ben Zeller do a real good job in capturing the grimy look of the halls and clubs that Blake performs in to convey the feel of the American Southwest.
Costume designer Doug Hall does some great work in the costumes, notably the ragged look of Blake along with a more prestigious look when he’s on stage despite his haggard persona. Sound editors Andrew DeCristofaro and Paula Fairfield along with sound designer Clara Murray do a fantastic job in capturing the intimate sounds of a club and the way things sounded like at the amphitheater and arenas Blake and Tommy Sweet play at.
The film’s music which is mostly written by T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton is truly the film’s technical highlight. Sticking to traditional country with a bouncy rhythm and a simpler sound with no polished production. The music is truly mesmerizing as it also features the song The Weary Kind written by Burnett and Ryan Bingham who makes an appearance in the film singing a track. Along with the song Reflecting Light by Sam Phillips, a lot of the music is sung by Jeff Bridges while Colin Farrell also sings a couple as they both possess great singing voices that is very straightforward.
The casting by Mary Vernieu is wonderful with some notable small roles from noted character actress Beth Grant as an old groupie, Tom Bower as liquor store owner who gives Blake free booze, Ryan Bingham as a guitarist at the Pueblo club, Rick Dial as Jean’s uncle who plays with Blake in Santa Fe, Paul Herman as Blake’s manager, and Jack Nation as Jean’s four-year old son Buddy. Robert Duvall is superb in a small role as Blake’s old friend Wayne who helps Blake get his act together as Duvall is just a joy to watch. Colin Farrell delivers a surprising performance as Tommy Sweet, a popular country singer who idolizes Blake while wanting to give him a chance to become big again as Farrell’s performance is great as he also delivers a solid vocal performance.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is excellent as Jean Craddock, a journalist/single mother who is charmed by Blake but also is aware that she’s setting herself up for some trouble. Gyllenhaal’s performance is definitely a marvel to watch in how she tries to compose herself into some very emotional scenes without any kind of high drama. While it’s not up there with more noteworthy performances like Secretary, Happy Endings, and Stranger Than Fiction, it’s a performance that solidifies her as one of the best working actresses today.
Finally, there’s Jeff Bridges in what is definitely one of his greatest roles of his career. Using his friendly persona and a physicality that is definitely ragged but stunning to watch. Bridges definitely lives up to the character sported a dirty beard, looking a bit overweight, and playing to his vulnerability. Yet, he’s also someone with charm as he has great chemistry with Gyllenhaal along with some great scenes with Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall. Bridges is the heart and soul of the film as he definitely shows his charisma and depth as a performer when he is singing or just playing a guitar quietly. It’s definitely a role that shows that he is truly one of American cinema’s great actors.
Crazy Heart is a stellar film from Scott Cooper featuring a phenomenal performance from Jeff Bridges. Along with solid supporting work from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall plus an amazing soundtrack. It’s a film that isn’t entirely original but one that is appealing. Fans of Jeff Bridges will definitely see the actor play a role that truly shows his talents as it is truly deserving of the accolades it’s getting. In the end, Crazy Heart is an enjoyable yet sobering film that is like a good country song with all of its crazy emotions that is carried by the brilliance of Jeff Bridges.
(Out of the Furnace)
© thevoid99 2013
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Based on the short novel Father and Daughter by Kazuo Hirotsu, Late Spring is the story about a widowed father and his relationship with his daughter whom he tries to find a good man to be her husband. Directed by Yasujiro Ozu and screenplay by Ozu and Kogo Noda, the film is an exploration into a man trying to give his daughter away to someone else in the hopes that she can start of a life of her own. Starring Chishu Ryu, Setsuko Hara, and Haruko Sugimura. Late Spring is an extraordinary yet evocative film from Yasujiro Ozu.
The film is a simple story about the life of a widowed professor and his adult daughter as the latter cares for him as she is content with her role. Yet, there’s people in her family who asks into why she isn’t married as he has fallen for another woman while hoping for his daughter to find someone for herself so she can have her own life. It’s a film that explores the complex relationship between Shukichi Somiya (Chishu Ryu) and his daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara) where the former is a widow who works as a professor while Noriko is his caretaker and enjoys it as she’s even friends with her father’s assistant Hattori (Jun Umasi). When Noriko’s Aunt Masa (Haruko Sugimura) keeps asking about why Noriko at the age of 27 doesn’t want to get married, she tries to set Noriko up with a man she knows. At first she refuses until she finds out about her father’s new relationship with a widow prompting her to think that maybe her father isn’t going to need her.
The film’s screenplay by Yasujiro Ozu and Kogo Noda takes it time to explore this unique relationship as it’s set in postwar Japan where there’s certain traditions that had to be uphold. For a woman like Noriko, she isn’t keen on the idea of marriage as one of her friends in Aya (Yumeji Tsukioka) is a divorcee who is also very cynical towards marriage. Noriko’s Aunt Masa is a traditionalist who believes that Noriko should be married as one of the film’s themes is tradition vs. modernism yet it all plays to Noriko trying to deal with the changes in her family life as well as her relationship with her father whom she constantly worries about. Yet, Shukichi is a man that has been through a lot as he knows how helpful Noriko is but he is also a traditionalist as he is also eager to start his own life without his daughter and with a new woman in his life.
Ozu’s direction is truly ravishing in his simple approach to compositions and framing where there’s an intimacy to these images but also a beauty that is just intoxicating to look at. While there’s a few scenes as a point-of-view shot of a moving train and the scene where Noriko and Hattori are riding bicycles towards the beach. Much of Ozu’s direction remains in this very direct, simple static shot where there’s very little movement in the cameras as he’s more concerned with what is going on in the frame whether it’s a wide shot or a medium shot. Especially as Ozu makes the home where Shukichi and Noriko live in as a major character in the film where it’s a place where they can have their dinners while Shukichi can do his work. It’s a place that Noriko can call home but the events in her life has her feeling less comfortable as she seeks to find something else.
There’s some very key scenes in the film where Ozu’s direction is very succinct in the way he shoots his characters into a frame with some low angles where the camera is positioned. Notably a key scene where Shukichi and Noriko are watching a Noh play where there’s a woman (Kuniko Miyake) that Shukichi is nodding to as Noriko realizes who it is as the play that is happening make some very frank suggestions into what Noriko doesn’t want to believe that plays into her views on marriage. The drama does intensify but the way Ozu presents it is very low-key as he continues to maintain that sense of intimacy such as a sequence where Shukichi and Noriko go on a trip to Kyoto with another professor friend of Shukichi that showcases what good might come in. Even as someone as modern and independent like Noriko cannot sway into the ideas of tradition. Overall, Ozu crafts a very delicate yet powerful film about a woman’s relationship with her father.
Cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the look of some of its daytime interior and exteriors to the use of lights, with help by Haruo Isono, for some of the scenes at night including a key scene at a hotel in Kyoto. Editor Yoshiyasu Hamamura does fantastic work with the editing to create some rhythmic cuts to play into some of the livelier moments as well as the dramatic reactions without making it too fast in cutting from one person to another. Art director Tatsuo Hamada and set decorator Mototsugu Komaki do amazing work with the home that Shukichi and Noriko live in as well as some of the place they go to like the restaurants and bars.
Costume designer Bunjiro Suzuki does wonderful work with the costumes where most of it is casual with the exception of the robes the characters wear including the lavish wedding clothes. The sound work of Hidetaka Sasaki is terrific for the intimacy it creates in some of the more low-key scenes as well as in some of the locations and such that includes the Noh play scene. The film’s music by Senji Ito is brilliant for its orchestral-based score that can playful at times while low and heavy in the more somber, dramatic moments of the film.
The film’s superb cast includes some notable small performances from Kuniko Miyake as Shukichi’s new lover Mrs. Miwa, Masao Mishima as Shukichi’s friend Professor Onodera that Noriko respects though questions about his fondness for marriage, and Jun Umasi as Shukichi’s assistant Hattori who is another friend of Noriko who seems to find that balance between modernism and traditionalism. Yumeji Tsukioka is excellent as Noriko’s friend Aya who had been through a divorce as she dwells on her cynical ideas of marriage. Haruko Sugimura is amazing as Aunt Masa as a traditionalist who is concerned for Noriko’s future as well as hoping she can find happiness in marriage. Chishu Ryu is great as Shukichi Somiya as a man who is concerned for his daughter’s future as an adult as he tries to find someone good for her. Finally, there’s Setsuko Hara in a radiant performance as Noriko as she has this air of grace as a modern woman trying to find herself yet deals with the ideas of tradition as she longs to remain her father’s caretaker while being unsure in the idea of marriage.
Late Spring is a remarkable film from Yasujiro Ozu that features exquisite performances from Setsuko Hara and Chishu Ryu. The film is truly a unique look into the world of postwar Japan where things are changing as well as a struggle to maintain the traditions of the country. Notably as it is largely based on the perspective of a woman who finds herself in the middle of this conflict. In the end, Late Spring is a tremendous film from Yasujiro Ozu.
Yasujiro Ozu Films: (Sword of Penitence) - (Days of Youth) - (Tokyo Chorus) - I Was Born, But... - (Dragnet Girl) - (Passing Fancy) - (A Mother Should Be Loved) - A Story of Floating Weeds - (An Inn in Tokyo) - (The Only Son) - (What Did the Lady Forget?) - (Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family) - (There Was a Father) - (The Record of a Tenement Gentleman) - (A Hen in the Wind) - Early Summer - (The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice) - Tokyo Story - (Early Spring) - (Tokyo Twilight) - (Equinox Flower) - (Good Morning) - Floating Weeds - (Late Autumn) - (The End of Summer) - (An Autumn Afternoon)
© thevoid99 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The year is set to close to in a month as the Oscar film season is starting to heat up. Especially as there’s a bunch of films coming and some to arrive early next year though they’ll be in New York City and Los Angeles in late December. Of course, the holidays for me is about getting whatever Criterion DVDs I can get before the sale ends. In the meantime, I’m also doing things to get ready for the next year as I’ve officially announced my list for the 2014 Blind Spot Series which was not easy to come up with yet I have managed to pick out films that I want to see. Especially in wanting to do something that is different and challenging.
Another thing that I’m taking serious consideration into is starting another blog. This time, it will focus on the world of professional wrestling as I have a lot of things to say about the state of World Wrestling Entertainment and my feelings as a longtime fan of pro wrestling. I’m having trouble coming up with a name for the blog but it will definitely becoming as I have plans for what to do for the next year as the 30th WrestleMania is going to come next year though I’m also very worried considering the state of how WWE is doing things.
In the month of November, I saw a total of 37 films, 26 first-timers and 11 re-watches. Definitely down from last month but still pretty good as I decided to take a breather during the Thanksgiving holidays. Of course, one of the highlights of the month is my Blind Spot assignment in Sunset Boulevard yet it wasn’t the highlight as here is the top first-timers that I saw for November 2013:
1. The Apartment
2. Mystery Train
3. Blue is the Warmest Color
4. Ace in the Hole
5. Belle de Jour
6. Late Spring
8. Double Indemnity
9. The Perks of Being a Wildflower
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
nWo: The Revolution
I enjoyed watching the New World Order during that period of the Monday Night Wars as they were just cool bad guys running amok in World Championship Wrestling. The documentary the WWE created definitely told a pretty good story with interviews from members like Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, and the Big Show along comments from Cody Rhodes and Booker T about its impact as well as why it fell apart when the faction split into two and how their 1999 reunion turned out to be a flop. Though there’s some parts of the doc that was skimmed over, it is still something that fans of the nWo will enjoy.
Top 10 Re-Watches:
1. Chungking Express
2. Some Like It Hot
3. The Parent Trap
5. Cloud Atlas
6. Year of the Horse
7. Original Gangstas
8. The Banger Sisters
9. Fools Rush In
10. Best of the Best 2
That is it for November. In December, I will be doing a few films by Yasujiro Ozu and Sergei Eisenstein where the latter will be in relation to the last Blind Spot assignment in Battleship Pontemkin. Along with films by Wong Kar-Wai to accompany the Auteurs piece on him at Cinema Axis, I will also review some new films like Nebraska, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, and whatever is available. There will also be some more film reviews that is going to be related to subjects for next year’s Auteurs subjects where after I finish the Auteurs piece on Wong Kar-Wai and my Blind Spot. I will make a formal announcement on what filmmakers I will profile for the next year as well as some plans for 2014 as I'm also going to make my list of the Most Anticipated Films of 2014. I also hope to end the year with the first of many variation on what I think are the 100 Greatest Films ever made. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…
© thevoid99 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Directed by Spike Lee, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is a presentation of Mike Tyson’s Broadway one-man show as he talks about his life from the triumphs he had as the world heavyweight champion in boxing to all of the scandals and troubles he went through in his life. The result is a fascinating yet entertaining one-man show captured by Spike Lee.
The film is a presentation of Mike Tyson’s one-man Broadway show called Undisputed Truth as he tells his life story from the way he remembers it while commenting on things in his life that he isn’t proud of but also things he cherishes. Notably as he talks about his early life and his family as he admits to having no idea who his father is while finding a family and mentor in his trainer Cus d’Amato. Tyson also talks about various incidents in his life such as the 1991 rape accusation where he revealed a lot that went wrong in his defense due to Don King as well as why one of his early trainers Teddy Atlas left over the fact that Tyson did have sex with his 12-year old sister-in-law when he was only 15 which Tyson admitted was true but also downplayed some things.
Tyson proves to be a very engaging presence in the way he tells his story where he admits that he tends to ramble at times but manages to maintains his composure and be courteous to his audience. Their reaction definitely adds power to his performance where he reveals his pain in some of the most funny ways but also in some of the darker moments where it looked like he could breakdown but manages to keep his composure. Some of the funnier moments involves not just Tyson’s ill-fated marriage to Robin Givens where he shows clips from the infamous interview with Barbara Walters. He also made some revelations about what happened during the split where they were still having sex until he found out that she was sleeping with another actor who turned out to be a now-major film star.
Another funny moment that Tyson reveals that is one of the most comical moments of the show as well as one of the most sobering moments is his feud with boxer Mitch Green where Tyson got into a street fight with the guy. Through Spike Lee’s very simple direction, Tyson is able to create things with the help of movie screens in the back to help tell his story. Even as Lee uses some close-ups and medium shots to have Tyson tell his story with the help of cinematographer Matthew Libatique and sound editor Philip Stockton as well as editor Barry Alexander Brown to help capture the energy of Tyson’s performance.
The show opens with one of the most touching moments where Tyson is sitting on a stool all alone with just one light above him as Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy plays which showcases the vulnerability of Tyson where music supervisor Janet Lopez helps provide music from Nina Simone and other artists as well as opening music by DJ Clark Kent before the show begins to help set the mood. Overall, Lee creates a very lively and touching stage performance from the Baddest Man on the Planet making Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth one of Spike Lee’s superb gems as well a key addition to his revered work in the documentary platform.
Spike Lee Films: (She’s Gotta Have It) - (School Daze) - Do the Right Thing - Mo' Better Blues - Jungle Fever - (Malcolm X) - Crooklyn - (Clockers) - (Girl 6) - (Get on the Bus) - 4 Little Girls - (He Got Game) - Freak - Summer of Sam - (The Kings of Comedy) - (Bamboozled) - (A Huey P. Newton Story) - 25th Hour - (Jim Brown: All-American) - (She Hate Me) - (Inside Man) - (When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts) - (Miracle at St. Anna) - (Kobe Doin’ Work) - (Passing Strange) - (If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise) - (Red Hook Summer) - Bad 25 - (Oldboy (2013 film)) - (Da Blood of Jesus)
© thevoid99 2013