Saturday, April 03, 2010

My attempt at Filmspotting's Top 5 List

I just finished listening to Filmspotting podcast, episode #296, and I've been inspired to begin a small project. My concept of great cinema has changed now that I live in a place with so many choices. When I lived in Anchorage, I primarily saw movies at the local Art House, Capri Cinema. Rand, being an out gay man, tended to show a lot of GLBT cinema as well as the better known independent/art house films. The years I lived in Columbia, I watched more mainstream film and really, just about everything that came to town that sounded at all interesting. But in Seattle, the choices are overwhelming by comparison. Sometimes I'll see a classic film, or a film with a lot of buzz, and there are a lot of foreign language films, because of the wide variety of cinema I have access to, I am now a very devoted fan of Asian cinema. The filmmakers in Hong Kong, Korea, China, Japan, Thailand are incredible. And this isn't at all limited to the genre films that have made Asian film world renowned, like the Hong Kong martial arts film, Japanese horror, or Anime. There are as many genres in Asia as there are in America, and now that I'm looking for them, most of my new favorites are Asian.

However, being a general fan of film, I still watch At the Movies (RIP) and listen to a few movie podcasts, like Filmspotting, but now I am very aware of how little is said about Asian cinema. So, I'm taking it upon myself to add to Matty and Adam's weekly top 5 list, by attempting to create an alternative eastern, top 5 list.

This occurred to me last week, when listening to their list of the top 5 movies of 1998. I found their lists very disappointing and discovered a major portion of my library seems to be from 1998. Pi, Run Lola Run, Velvet Goldmine, Babe: Pig in the City, and a few that they mentioned Buffalo '66, Shakespeare in Love, and There's Something about Mary. But I needed to find out what Asian cinema was being enjoyed in 1998. This is what I found;

Bullet Ballet (Japan) Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto
Kiki's Delivery Service (Japan) Dir. Hayao Miyazaki
The Emporor and the Assasin (China) Dir. Chen Kaige
After Life (Japan) Dir. Hirokazu Koreeda
The Hole (Taiwan) Dir. Ming-liang Tsai
The Bird People in China (Japan) Dir. Takashi Miike
Dr. Akagi (Japan) Dir. Shohei Imamura

That's an impressive list of films by very world acclaimed filmmakers, but sadly, I've only seen three of these films at this time. This makes it difficult to make a top 5 Asian films of 1998, but I can highly recommend Kiki's Delivery Service. The jury is still out on Bullet Ballet (haven't seen the whole film just yet) but generally I adore Shinya Tsukamoto's films. and the Emperor and the Assassin was beautiful, but a bit too cold and intellectual for my taste.

But this week was colorful movie titles, that is, movies with a color in the title. This project was a lot harder than anticipated, but I did find some Asian films to plug in for this list.

Color Movies

1. Tears of the Black Tiger
2. Flight of the Red Balloon
3. The Bride with White Hair
4. Black Tight Killers

Sadly, I'm a title short. Also, some might question the inclusion of Flight of the Red Balloon as it is a French film, in French, but it totally counts since it was made by Taiwanese director, Hou Hsiao-hsien. I also highly recommend all 4 titles. I'm just sorry that I could not include Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum or Raise the Red Lantern, but alas, I've yet to watch either film. I need to remedy this.