Formally more sophisticated than the typical Hollywood romcom, Don't Go Breaking My Heart is one of the quintessential contemporary films in the genre, a film which is heavy on artifice yet still manages to cut up and serve emotional truths about longing, companionship, and love. Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai's film shows such affection for its characters and it becomes infectious to the audience, managing a rather contained romantic comedy - in terms of the spaces it occupies - that feels nothing but in the way it erupts with vitality intrinsic to the potential of love. The love triangle archetype is traversed in a truly wonderful ways, as the film embraces its genre and creates something magical that is hard not to love.
To be blessed with one iota of Obayashi's creative spirit; Like a great driver's instinctual nature behind the wheel, Obayashi's His Motorbike, Her Island feels spontaneous and free flowing, never schematic in execution despite the intrinsic preparation involved. Reality is consistently obfuscated through a formalism in which shifting color palette oscillates to its own rhythms. Not informed by narrative but affect, a story in which dreams, memories, and reality blur, a story conceptually about freedom, passion, and love that is another singular work from one of the great filmmakers in Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, who consistently pushed the boundaries of the medium throughout his oeuvre.
A rather ambitious romantic comedy which conceptually and schematically shouldn't work, and yet the film lives on its own wavelength and manages to be somewhat radical in its formalism as it delivers emotional poignancy and a singular charm to the romantic comedy genre. A testament in part to Jun Ji-Hyun's insatiable performance, My Sassy Girl is imbued with such a sense of vitality which is rarely achieved by similar films of its ilk, showing a willingness to step outside of the comfortable framework of this familial boy meets girl archetype to delivery a singular vision of the complicated nature of companionship and love. Not surprising this film was a colossal hit - a heightened love story that is charming, outrageous at times, yet infused with emotional truths and an earnest deposition when it comes to the complex pathways intrinsic to love
A staggering work of art which features a rich panoply of themes related to cultural identity and community. Novelistic in the vast network of characters and relationships it traverses, A Brighter Summer Day is richly textured, allegorical examination of the people of Taiwan, told through the displaced and fractured nodes of a community which lacks common, collective identity. Through the lens of impressionable youth, emotionality is juxtaposed with rationality, the former intrinsically synthesizing with alienation and despondence, inevitably breeding aggression and violence due to an environment which provides little stability or recourse. Parents pine for their past lives on the mainland while the youth grow alienated by their parents diaspora. Lacking direction they cling to facile notions of community such as street gangs and school politics, similarly to their adult counterparts who themselves now cling to their foregone past. Adrift and isolated, the youth in many ways symbolize Taiwan, shaped by a litany of culture influences yet lacking any identity themselves. This environment breeds a dangerous naivety about consequences and the lack of balance necessary between egoism and altruism, emotionality and rationality, which inevitably ends in one of the most staggering moments of tragedy in the history of cinema.. Grand in scope, A Brighter Summer Day's examination of cultural identity and diaspora through the impressionable, innocent lens of youth is universal theme and yet A Brighter Summer Day is also very specific to a certain space and time in Taiwanese history, empathetic in its investigation of aggression and profuse in providing opportunities for appreciation, analysis, and introspection.
Engulfed by a cryptic yet compelling ethos in which the larger forces of social transformation in China or expressed though the intimacy of its central characterization, Suburban Birds is a stunning debut feature from Qiu Sheng in which space and time are malleable forces used to explore the beauty, mystery, and melancholy related to the human experience and our larger relationship with the natural world. Enigmatic in that it refuses to define the events of its story in any way which gives the audience a facile sense of clarity through denouement, Suburban Birds rests at the fulcrum of introspection in which indecision and contemplation are central nodes for discovery, and the intangible nature of memory serves as a complex but vital tool for navigation. A meditative experience, the pathos of its central protagonist is richly textured, providing a expansive network of potential commentary and discourse related to sexual repression, social transformation, industrialization, and self-worth. Intimate yet expansive, aesthetically stunning, and thematically complex, Suburban Birds carries obvious similarities to other notable contemporary filmmakers from the region like Jia and Tsai yet it stands on its own, being a fantastic debut effort and precisely the type of work which reinvigorates my passion and love of the medium.
Delightful, slots right in among the better fantasy screwball comedies. Veronica Lake is perfectly cast, obviously, but Frederic March provides such a good counterbalance - his performance providing natural affinity to a characterization which could be found unlikeable. Prospers largely on its charming demeanor and heightened conceptual framework which intrinsically intrigues. Rene Clair's direction supplements the film well with an understated but precise hand, accentuating the supernatural elements of the story in a way which is never detrimental to the film's thematic humanism centered around the idea that love is a stronger force than hate or vengeance. A fantasy romcom in which its conceptual artifice never restricts its humanism, I Married A Witch is a charming film which doesn't always feel narratively organic but it manages to be constantly endearing due to its two lead performances and Clair's deft direction
A rather slight effort for Lubitsch, though it still maintains the signature charm which the filmmaker's oeuvre tends to be associated with. That Uncertain Feeling is a story about agency and the psychology of relationships when it comes to feelings of worth, exhibiting how slight discretions can be amplified and twisted into something larger due to misplaced emotions. Honest and charming though relatively minor, the film exhibits how the repetitious nature of idiosyncrasies and notions of a static lifestyle are ultimately a part of any meaningful relationship. They place strain and subversion if not recognized and accounted for and yet they are ultimately intrinsic to any meaningful relationship in which the give & take between two disparate souls is ultimately calcified around the commonality of love.
Messy and ambitious, Red's narrative structure and formalist sensibilities juxtaposes the emotional complexity of its romance with that of radicalism. The symbiosis of affect and influence plays out in rapturous detail through the tumultuous yet passionate relationship which traverses decades, exhibiting the muddled construct which sits at the fulcrum of individual ambition and social transformation. While the film's sprawling nature does become detrimental to its tonal consistency and general pacing, Reds' exudes an formalism and aesthetic which exemplifies the film's conceptual and thematic framework, one which transcends typical informative biopic or general character drama to delivery an effectual and honest examination of the revolutionary spirit.
The power of cinema as a mechanism for social influence, Chris Marker's The Last Bolshevik is a dense exploration of the symbiosis between art and life in which the tumultuous and complicated journey of soviet filmmaker Aleksandr Medvedkin is explored in meticulous detail. It always amazes me how Marker's work manages to be so scrupulous yet charming, and The Last Bolshevik is no exception, with its essayist structure providing a plethora of astute insights and observations in which Marker's affection and respect for his subject shines bright. A panoply of inquiry is featured throughout The Last Bolshevik's dense construction - Film as a historical document but also a subversion, the objectivity of truth itself being an abstraction, the vicissitudes of power and its relationship to propaganda - yet at its core The Last Bolshevik remains a testament to the complicated life of the filmmaker himself.
The underlying toxicity of a relationship forged in adolescence purveyed through an empathetic lens, Dan Salitt's Fourteen manages the perfect balance between naturalism and artifice in its storytelling, exhibiting an intimate and honest portrait of the human experience, encapsulating in many ways the fragility of connection in the vastness of space and time. Weaves through the temporal dimension with an astute elegance that is salient but never fueled by unnecessary exposition, Fourteen is simple yet astute, detailing the gradual division created by time. The insular nature of an individual cognitive experience is juxtaposed with the external nature of relationships, and the gradual shift displayed in the central relationship of the film's narrative is conducted in a way that is intimate and emotionally poignant but also accepting of this fact of life. Souls adrift in the vast labyrinths which make up living, neither negative or positive, but just a part of the experience
Love of all things cinema brought me here.