Sawako Decides

Hikari Mitsushima is one hell of an actress. I haven’t looked too much into her past, but from what I gather she is a gravure idol-turned-actress, who started out with small bit parts in feature films, notably the live-action Death Note series. I have not seen these films, so this means next to nothing to me. She first really made waves in circles of Japanese Cinema fans in Shion Sono’s masterpiece, Love Exposure, as the protagonist’s obsessive love interest, who put him through hell. Though she was one of the major characters in Love Exposure, it is in Yûya Ishii’s Sawako Decides which she truly shines. After having only seen two of her films, she has already put herself in contention to be one of my favorite young actresses working today.

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Boris Barnet: Outskirts/The Patriots & Girl with the Hatbox

The Girl with the Hatbox (1930)

Outskirts/The Patriots (1933)

Outside of Jonathan Rosenbaum, who called Outskirts and By the Bluest of Seas masterpieces, Boris Barnet is a little-known figure even in cinephile communities. It’s a shame too, as the two films on this DVD point towards an early master of Soviet cinema. Of course, even mentioning “Soviet cinema” brings to mind the likes of Eisenstein, montage theory, and propaganda, but Barnet is the rarest of birds: an early master of Russian cinema that shies away from propaganda, and is supremely tasteful and judicious in his use of montage. The Girl with the Hatbox closely recalls the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin in its elegance and charming humor. In the case of Outskirts, the truth is more devious; it’s a film that’s almost anti-Soviet in its satire, mixing comedy, drama, war, as well as sound and images in utterly original ways for a film from 1933. Read more of this post

The Social Network

There’s a moment in King Lear in Act I Scene V when, amidst all the raging storm of emotions, the most devastating line in the entire play is uttered quietly in a rare moment of reflection for its self-absorbed title character: “I did her wrong”. At its tragic conclusion, we’re left to wonder how radically different things could’ve been if those four profound words of self-fault recognition had manifested in Lear’s actions. There’s a similar moment in this film during the climactic confrontation between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his best friend, or now ex-best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). After the Mephistophelean character of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the creator of Napster, has ruthlessly excommunicated Eduardo from any further participation in the business that Facebook has become, Mark turns away from Sean, drooping his head and lost dejectedly in thought, and says “you didn’t have to be so rough on him.” Shortly after, it’s back to the immense business of creative dedication that running a soon-to-be multibillion-dollar business like Facebook is. But it’s moments like those, amidst the whirlwind of ceaseless involvement of being swept up in an up in an obsession that, almost imperceptibly, has become bigger than you and taken over your life as quickly and deadly as poison running through your veins from a viper strike, that give the film its lingering quality that transcends the drama of moment. Read more of this post

Miracles: Mr. Canton and Lady Rose

Buy a rose, save your life.

Directed by Jackie Chan

Hong Kong; 1989

Starring Jackie Chan and Anita Mui

122 Min.


In Short: Not as much action as you’d expect from a 1980’s Jackie Chan film, but Miracles makes up for it with its entertaining and well told plot. If it feels a bit Capra-esque, that’s because it’s meant to be. While it probably won’t be anyone’s favorite Jackie Chan movie, it might be the one to earn him respect from non-Martial Arts fans.

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