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Weddings and Funerals: Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" and the Immigrant Family Drama

The FarewellWhen released over 25 years ago in 1993, Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club was considered a triumph, the first film to realize the dream of Asian and Asian-American representation in Hollywood. Rather than predict a change in course, however, it remained an anomaly. Virtually no American films comparably invested in the sorts of cross-cultural divides chronicled in Wang’s saga of mother-daughter rifts and continuities saw the light of day, until last year’s romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, and more significantly, Lulu Wang’s Sundance breakout, The Farewell. Not that world cinema lacked insights on the growing pains of the immigrant experience, and the East-West, tradition versus modernity conflicts that comprise the thematic meat of similarly charted family dramas. The United States saw a “70 percent increase in the population [of Asians] from 1980 to 1988,” according to a New York Times report, and Chinese immigrants made up a significant portion. The success
See full article at MUBI »

Cannes Film Review: ‘Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains’

  • Variety
Cannes Film Review: ‘Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains’
The English title of Gu Xiaogang’s debut film is “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” which is also the name of one the great treasures of Chinese art: a 14th-century landscape painting by Yuan Dynasty master Huang Gongwang. Especially from a first-timer, reaching for an association this lofty for what is ostensibly an intimate family drama could seem like hubris, but the gentleness and genuineness of Gu’s intentions surely offset that charge a little. And the film’s restful charms, at the very least, hugely improve the eponymous masterpiece’s cinematic legacy, given that it was last ignominiously used as the MacGuffin in 2013’s infamously awful spy caper “Switch.”

The title is not simply borrowed interest: The film emulates the painting in a deeply respectful way, in setting, but also in its lengthy, episodic sweep and its deceptive, loose-yet-controlled aesthetic, which evokes the airy yet precise strokes of Huang’s inkbrush.
See full article at Variety »

“It’s Tough To Be a Woman”: Close-Up on Sylvia Chang’s "Love Education"

  • MUBI
Close-Up is a feature that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. Sylvia Chang's Love Education (2017), which is receiving an exclusive global online premiere on Mubi, is showing from April 19 – May 18, 2019 in Mubi's Luminaries strand.Early into Sylvia Chang’s Love Education, a family of three from Zhengzhou stumbles upon a chastity arch. It’s a landmark that stands in strident contrast with the sprawling concrete beehives of the second-tier city they come from, a relic redolent of an altogether different time and space, where widows who remained faithful to their late husbands were praised for their loyalty and purity. Its exact purpose may be alien to millennial Weiwei (Lang Yueting), but resonates closely to her fifty-something mother, Huiying (Chang), who darts it a cold glance: “it means it’s tough to be a woman.” Should there be a tagline for the filmography Taiwanese singer-turned-actress-turned-director Sylvia Chang has crafted in
See full article at MUBI »

Interview with Tsai Ming-liang: “The Deserted triggered me to be more conscious about the space, the audience is thrown into a space rather than in a story”

Director Tsai Ming-liang is one of the most distinguished directors of the new cinema movement in Taiwan. Born in Malaysia, he moved to Taiwan at the age of 20. There he graduated from the Drama and Cinema Department of the Chinese Cultural University of Taiwan in 1982 and went on working as a theatrical producer, screenwriter, and television director in Hong Kong.

His first feature film was “Rebels of the Neon God” in 1992, a film about troubled youth in Taipei, and with his second film, “Vive L’Amour” in 1994, won the Golden Lion (best picture) at the 1994 Venice Film Festival. Along with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang is one of Taiwan’s most prominent Taiwanese directors.

In occasion of the screening of his Vr film “The Deserted” and a selected retrospective of his movies at the Taiwan Film Festival UK in London we speak with him about a different approach to Vr cinema,
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Short Film Review: The Skywalk Is Gone (2002) by Tsai Ming-Liang

“I rushed through the woods

Where there were numerous trees.

I could not find his trail

But saw the trees in the breeze.”

After the shooting on his 2001 film “What Time Is It There?” was finished, one of the central locations for the movie, the Skywalk in front of New Railway Station in Taipei was torn down. As the urban landscape changes, so does the memory of a place, resulting in a loss of orientation in people. His short feature “The Skywalk Is Gone” can therefore be seen as both a companion piece to “What Time Is It There?” but also as a further exploration on the changing face of the city and the loss of memory that comes with it.

At the centre of the film, a young woman named Hsiang-chi (Chen Shiang-chyi) tries to find a street vendor, Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng). However, since the Skywalk where the vendor
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

The Criterion Channel Unveils Launch Lineup for April

In just two weeks, a cinematic haven will launch. After the demise of FilmStruck left cinephiles in a dark depression, The Criterion Channel has stepped up to the plate to launch their own separate service coming to the U.S. and Canada on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, and Android and Android TV devices. Now, after giving us a taste of what is to come with their Movies of the Week, they’ve unveiled the staggeringly great lineup for their first month.

Along with the Criterion Collection and Janus Films’ library of 1,000 feature films, 350 shorts, and 3,500 supplementary features–including trailers, introductions, behind-the-scenes documentaries, interviews, video essays, commentary tracks, and rare archival footage–the service will also house films from Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), Lionsgate, IFC Films, Kino Lorber, Cohen Media, Milestone Film and Video, Oscilloscope, Cinema Guild, Strand Releasing, Shout Factory, Film Movement,
See full article at The Film Stage »

Film Review: Vanishing Days [Man you] (2018) by Zhu Xin

“Someday, some month, some year

seems like a broken face…”

If we walk the place of our childhood, comparing it to the place we remember often reveals a stark contrast to the present. Of course, places and people change over time, but the reality of something having changed, perhaps beyond recognition is quite shocking and demonstrates our own state of helplessness in the face of time. Literature, film, art and even music have always been ways to preserve these images, these times, places and people we remember in order to stop the mercilessness of forgetting what once was.

In many ways, Chinese director Zhu Xin has therefore chosen one of the fundamental tasks for his first feature, which is art as a means to preserve. Growing up in the city of Hangzhou, he aimed to construct “Vanishing Days” as a kind of map based on how it is now and how he remembers it.
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Short Film Review: The Umbrella (2018) by Eric Tsang

This year, the Hong Kong 2018 Fresh Wave Short Film Competition is at its 12th edition. Fresh Wave is an independent organization founded by Johnnie To to fund Hong Kong young talents in film-making, showcase their projects and give them a truly effective platform to start their career from. Fresh Wave Alumni includes Jevons Au of “Ten Years” and “Trivisa” and “Distinction”, and Wong Chun of multi-awarded “Mad World”.

A “veteran” of Fresh Wave, Hing Weng Eric Tsang has participated in different roles to many editions. Last year he was the Dop behind his friend’s Jun Li’s short “Liu Yang He” that won the Fresh Wave Open Division Best Film Award. This year Eric – who seems to have a Mida’s touch – is on the director’s chair with a movie that he has also written, “The Umbrella”, and that is – again – the winner of the Fresh Wave Best
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Academy Voters’ Recognition for Asian Films Scarce

  • Variety
Academy Voters’ Recognition for Asian Films Scarce
No matter how much you loved “Crazy Rich Asians” — that glittering Singapore-set spin on the princess movie, which charmed audiences to the tune of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars earlier this year — don’t be surprised when the Academy fails to give it a single above-the-line Oscar nomination. When that happens, it will no doubt inspire a dozen or more outraged editorials, as #OscarsSoWhite critics bemoan the lack of Asian talent among this year’s nominees.

Why wait? The time for such think pieces is now, especially since Hollywood’s tendency to snub Asian talent is hardly limited to studio projects. Just compare the history of Oscar’s foreign-language category to that of world cinema overall, where the influence of such Asian masters as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, Jia Zhangke and Edward Yang has been ignored over the years. And if the organization doesn’t wake up and realize the bias,
See full article at Variety »

BBC’s 100 Greatest Foreign-Language Films Ever: 209 Film Critics Crown ‘Seven Samurai,’ ‘In the Mood for Love,’ and More

BBC’s 100 Greatest Foreign-Language Films Ever: 209 Film Critics Crown ‘Seven Samurai,’ ‘In the Mood for Love,’ and More
The BBC Culture annual critics’ poll has become one of the most anticipated film lists over the last three years. After asking critics to weigh in on the best American films (“Citizen Kane” topped the list), the best films of the 21st century (“Mulholland Drive” in first), and the best comedy movies (“Some Like It Hot” crowned the best), the BBC Culture has turned this year to the 100 greatest achievements in foreign-language film.

This year’s list was curated from top 10 lists from 209 film critics across 43 countries, including IndieWire’s own Kate Erbland and Christian Blauvelt. BBC Culture awarded 10 points to each critics’ first-ranked film, 9 for the second-ranked, and so on down to one. The finalized top 100 list was curated based on this point system.

Sitting on the top of the BBC Culture list is Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” The film’s breathtaking scope and intimate character work has
See full article at Indiewire »

Film Analysis: Daughter of the Nile (1987) by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

“The last thing I hate is that life always forces us to keep moving forwards.”

In the aftermath of the New York Film Festival, reporter Vincent Canby wrote an article about the films of the festival he aptly named “Why Some Films Don’t Travel Well”. Works such as Zhang Yimou’s “Red Sorghum”, Andrei Konchalovsky’s “Asya’s Happiness” and Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “Daughter of the Nile” are mostly relevant thanks to their “sociology factor” Canby begins his article, an aspect that these works are and have been applauded for around the world while as films themselves they are not that interesting. Hou Hsiao-Hien, one of the most popular directors of Taiwanese New Cinema along with Edward Yang, was still trying to find a cinematic language for his films, one which strongly resembled the works of Yasujiro Ozu in terms of style and content, the sense of resignation, as
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

The London East Asia Film Festival (Leaff) has disclosed the full Programme of its 3rd Edition running 25 October – 4 November

The London East Asia Film Festival (Leaff), opens its third year on the 25th October at Vue Leicester Square with “Dark Figure of Crime”, the newest thriller by director Kim Tae-gyun, and runs until the 4th November. It will close with the intelligent and emotionally complex family drama, “Ramen Shop”, the latest feature film by acclaimed Singaporean director, Eric Khoo.

Having expanded to include the cinematic offerings of 13 countries – China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar – Leaff’s 2018 programme focuses on the “future”. Through the lens and unique perspectives of East Asian filmmakers, Leaff offers compelling insight into not only the future of those in East Asia but in London, with vital and thought – provoking dialogues being opened up around subjects such as youth, human interaction, development, cultural and social issues.

Leaff will screen 6 International premieres, 8 European premieres and 23 UK premieres,
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Review: Living in a Material World—Jon M. Chu's "Crazy Rich Asians"

  • MUBI
When fakes are more real than the real…— A Confucian ConfusionIn 1991, the playwright Frank Chin wrote this of Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club: “[It writes] to the specifications of the […] stereotype of Asia being as opposite morally from the West as it is geographically. [...] We expect Asian-American writers, portraying Asia and Asians, to have a knowledge of the difference between the real and the fake. This is a knowledge they have admitted they not only do not possess but also have no interest in possessing. [...] They talk about the agony of the stereotype, but when pressed, have no idea how to describe it.”1Two years later, filmmaker Wayne Wang’s adaptation of Joy Luck Club was a box-office hit that earned nearly three-times its budget in theaters. Frank Chin was labelled a contrarian cynic, and Joy Luck Club continued to rise above all criticism—“It is not deep,” declared the Washington Post
See full article at MUBI »

The Receptionist review – an intimate voyage into London's underworld

A Taiwanese graduate becomes embroiled in the sex trade in Jenny Lu’s angst-ridden study of the immigrant experience

First-time feature director Jenny Lu directs this intensely felt personal drama about the immigrant experience in the UK and the accompanying state of invisibility – part survival strategy, part byproduct of prejudice and hypocrisy.

Tina, played by Teresa Daley, is a young Taiwanese arts graduate living with her British boyfriend in London, frantically sending out CVs, getting no job offers and desperately short on cash. Then she gets word that someone needs a “receptionist”, but not at the kind of hipster media company she once yearned for. Tina has to be the “receptionist” for a brothel run out of a rented suburban semi by the motherly Lily (Sophie Gopsill), which employs two cynical yet melancholy sex workers.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Film Review: The Last Verse (2017) by Tseng Ying-ting

“Hopefully when the morning comes, /

We’ll be beautiful people again

With beautiful lives.”

One of the central themes of the cinema of Taiwanese director Tseng Ying-ting is human interaction and how outside factors from politics to economy influence it. In his new film “The Last Verse” he and his co-writer Shih Hong-ru focus on how globalization and growing democratization have influenced our world, but especially Asian countries. In his statement on the film the director describes how “the escalating poverty and hopelessness in the seemingly rich society” has become the thematic core of the film.

The Last Verse is screening at the 17th New York Asian Film Festival

However, especially economic factors as well as immigration play a huge role in how many young people experience the world. As recession forces people to leave their homes and their families, both of these concepts have changed their meaning since they became more international.
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Interview with Norichika Oba: “I want Japanese people to really see and appreciate how wonderful a movie can be”

Norichika Oba was born 1978 in Fukuoka and graduated from Japan Film School in 2003. Afterwards, he worked as assistant director for Hiroshi Nishitani (“Suspect X” and “Hirugao”), Yu Irie (“The Sun”) and Hideaki Anno (“Shin Godzilla”). His first feature film, “Nora” (2010), received awards at Tama New Wave and at Tanabe Benkei Film Festival. “Cyclops” is his second feature film.

On the occasion of the international premiere of his film “Cyclops” at the Nippon Connection – Japanese Film Festival , director Norichika Oba talks about the current state of the Japanese movie industry, his troubles shooting on a small budget and ultimately reveals the meaning of the Cyclops.

Your debut film “Nora” came out in 2010 and won several awards. “Cyclops” was released eight years after that. What happened in between that?

I had wanted to film another movie for some time. But I didn’t see the point in hurrying the creative process just to shoot a film quickly.
See full article at AsianMoviePulse »

Japan's Skip City festival introduces competition for local features

The Japanese Feature Film Competition will screen four titles from young Japanese filmmakers.

Japan’s Skip City International D-Cinema Festival has unveiled the line-up for its 15th anniversary edition (July 13-22), including a new competition section for Japanese features.

The Japanese Feature Film Competition will screen four titles from young Japanese filmmakers, including two world premieres – Kenichiro Hiro’s coming-of-age drama Beyond The Blue and Shinzo Katayama’s Siblings Of The Cave, starring Yuya Matsuura and Misa Wada.

The remaining two films in this section are Hiroyuki Takebayashi’s High Sentiments Family and Norichika Oba’s Cyclops. In previous editions of the festival,
See full article at ScreenDaily »

NYC Weekend Watch: ‘That Day, on the Beach,’ Jean Cocteau, Agnès Varda & More

Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.


The best retrospective of 2018 thus far is the Sylvia Chang series, which wraps up with Edward Yang, King Hu, Jia Zhangke, and the woman herself.

A few more Kubrick films screen this weekend.

What did Hitchock and Jarmusch have in common? Birds, it turns out.

Restorations of A Fistful of Dollars and The Changeling are now playing.
See full article at The Film Stage »

NYC Weekend Watch: Sylvia Chang, ‘2001’ on 70mm, French Melodrama, Fox Restorations & More

Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.


The best retrospective of 2018 thus far is the Sylvia Chang series, which in its first weekend along offers Edward Yang, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, and the woman herself.

More Kubrick films screen this week.

What did Hitchock and Jarmusch have in common? Birds, it turns out.

Godard’s underseen A Film Like Any Other plays on Friday.
See full article at The Film Stage »

All About Sylvia Chang

If you wanted a crash course in Chinese language cinema of the past 40 years, you could do a lot worse than the series playing at the Metrograph from May 18 - 27 built around the career of Sylvia Chang. An actress, writer and director of tremendous accomplishment (as well as popular singer and playwright), Chang has been a major figure since the mid-1970s, playing important roles in both the Hong Kong New Wave and New Taiwanese Cinema, working with key directors King Hu, Ann Hui, Tsui Hark, Edward Yang, Stanley Kwan, Johnnie To, Mabel Cheung, and Ang Lee. She’s played waifish ingenues and hard-nosed career women, exasperated mothers, bohemian artists, bourgeois matrons and ass-kicking cops. As a director, she’s brought special focus to women’s changing roles in domestic and family melodramas, creating sophisticated works that straddle the line between mainstream and art house. The Metrograph is playing 15 of her films,
See full article at MUBI »
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