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  1.  (5975.61)
    can't talk about samurai movies without mentioning sword of doom, freaking amazing. also i'd recommend stray dog.
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2009
    Happy Flight maybe more poignant with the current Air France tragedy.
  2.  (5975.63)
    As this thread has been going for a couple of days now, everything I would have recommended has already been recommended, such as Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (which is one of the most breathtaking and beautiful movies I've ever seen), everything by Tsui Hark (The Blade fucking rocks faces), and the Vengeance trilogy. Oldboy was my favourite, but Lady Vengeance is hugely underrated. The last act of that is unforgettable.

    Has anyone here already recommended Twilight Samurai? It's a really delicate and touching movie.

    @UrbanAngel, what did you think of Mushishi? It's not the movie I thought it would be, which is good, as it really caught me out. Such a quiet, atmospheric movie, really beautiful. It really captures the tone of the original animation.

    Red Cliff is indeed being released in the West as one movie constructed from the parts of two movies. I've seen the first and adored it, and am planning on watching the second either today or tomorrow. After that, I plan on seeing the truncated version just so I can blog about the choices made. The first movie had slow patches, but they were really lovely (Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's musical moment was great) and filled with plot, so I can't see how losing those scenes will improve it. I get the feeling they will keep the big battle scenes (which I can't wait to see on the big screen) and lose the little character moments. I get why, but will it work in the movie's favour?
    • CommentAuthorUrbanAngel
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009 edited
    I really liked Twilight Samurai too.

    Mushishi - I didn't know what to expect as I don't know the original anime. I have to admit that I immediately thought of Musashi when I saw the DVD and I think that the samurai theme stuck in my head for whatever reason, even after reading the synopsis on the back. I thought that the film had a good plot and I liked the ideas and characters, however the pacing was off. They could have well represented the peaceful and beautiful tone of the anime even after having shortened it by 20-30 minutes. We all nodded off at at least one point (not so great when we were about to go clubbing! Hooray for Red Bull). I also liked the graphics of the bugs - the light/dark and when it looked like they were spreading their roots/feelers - very organic.
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009 edited
    @UrbanAngel, yes, I'd agree the one flaw with the movie was that it was too long, but it really sucked me in. I caught some of the anime after seeing the live action version, and was pleased to see the similarity. Katsuhiro Otomo really captured the floaty nature aesthetic. I've not read the manga, but I would like to.

    I've got Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers around here somewhere, and I hope to watch that soon as well. He's just an astonishing filmmaker. Avalon and the two Ghost in the Shell movies were three of the best films I've seen this decade (okay, the first GitS wasn't this decade, but they were his three previous films and I wanted to lump them together).
  3.  (5975.66)
    Have you seen Gig 1 + 2 of the Stand Alone Complex Ghost in the Shell TV Series? I think that it's a great story line and miss the Laughing Man plot. The 3rd Ghost in the Shell movie follows on from them, I think, also entitled Stand Alone Complex.
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009 edited
    I've had the boxsets for those on my Amazon wishlist for ages, but no one ever bites. One day I'll see them all, I hope. I caught one on the Anime Channel a while back, and loved it. That said, the tone was different from Oshii's movies. He's a very still director. I saw Avalon with a colleague, and we thought it was the right kind of boring. It was very slow and nothing happened for the most part, but it was also hypnotic. Though it seemed to be filled with longeurs, we still had a high opinion of it.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009
    With GitS Oshii chose to play up the 'what does it mean to be human if your entire body is cybernetic' angle of Masamune's original manga. The Stand Alone Complex stuff has a bit of that, but tends to focus more on 'what happens to soceity if everyone has computers in their heads' angle. Funnily enough, none of the adaptations are quite as plain perverted as the manga was...

    I thought Red Cliff part 2 wasn't quite as good as the first part, it has a really odd pacing to it. I suspect it works fine if you watch both parts back to back though. I think part of the stated reason for cutting it down for the west was the rather lame 'all the names sound too similar and we don't want to confuse the audience'. Assuming it's still subtitled rather than dubbed then they're not going to get the kind of audience coming to see it that would have trouble following the plot.

    When I saw Crouching Tiger at the cinema people walked out when they realised it was subtitled.
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009 edited
    When I saw Crouching Tiger at the cinema people walked out when they realised it was subtitled.

    I saw that at the Curzon Soho, right by Chinatown. When the audience started laughing at Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh running across rooftops I cringed. That's what happens when London douchebags go to see a movie just because of the hype surrounding it, without having any clue about the cultural context behind the movie, or the conventions of the genre.

    I thought Red Cliff part 2 wasn't quite as good as the first part, it has a really odd pacing to it. I suspect it works fine if you watch both parts back to back though.

    Sad to hear it, though I hope you're right about the back-to-back thing. It's Lord of the Rings syndrome. People were down on the long ending of Return of the King, but they're wrapping up three movies, not one. Watch them back to back and it feels right.
  4.  (5975.70)
    I was glad, though, that my companion explained to me that it was based on the Beijing Opera style as I was a little confused at those rooftop scenes too!

    I cried so much when I saw it, but it's because my cat had just died that day :(
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009 edited
    I was glad, though, that my companion explained to me that it was based on the Beijing Opera style as I was a little confused at those rooftop scenes too!

    Oh sure, if you've not seen something like that before it's startling, but mocking laughter? That's a bit much. I've heard people complaining about unrealistic wirework in wuxia, and acting all superior because our culture doesn't have such nonsensical stuff in it, and it's as annoying as people laughing about Bollywood because of all the singing and dancing. Those foreigners and their silly movies! Fuck man, it's an aspect of someone else's culture, just as much as American movies have to have a romance subplot in almost every film, and British movies have to look really cheap and feature either Vinnie Jones and Danny Dyer. [/glibness]

    Sorry about your cat, btw.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009
    If they want a wirework film to laugh at, show them Iron Monkey. At least that one isn't playing it entirely straight...
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009
    Hey, anyone here from that Whitechapel Movie Club thread that I think spun off into a website?

    I started compiling all these recommendations to edit the first post, but it'll be too long. Would someone care to put it up over at the Movie Club?
    • CommentAuthorradian
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009
    The 3rd Ghost in the Shell movie follows on from them, I think, also entitled Stand Alone Complex.
    I thought the title was "Solid State Society".
    • CommentAuthorpi8you
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2009
    Yes, the third GitS movie is titled Solid State Society, but takes place in the same universe as the TV series, as opposed to Oshii's movie universe. Spiritually, the show is quite close to the manga, but tones down the fan-service a fair bit, and the second season is probably my favorite portion of the series as a whole.
    • CommentAuthorUrbanAngel
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2009 edited
    Oops yes, thanks for the correction. Am currently suffering from tonsilitis and for some reason it's also affecting my brain >:o)

    PS - I like the Gits acronym :D
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2009
    Another odd Thai martial arts fun film - Chocolate.

    There's been a slew of good Korean martial arts fun - like Empress and the Warrior, and Restless Sword.

    The Shogun Assassin films are fun, if only for the child.

    And a Vietnamese film that pleasantly surprised was Rebel.

    I liked Dragon Tiger Gate and Flashpoint, even though my boyfriend thought they were corny.
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeJul 11th 2009
    I saw a Thai movie called, I think, Nang-Mai (Nymph) the other day. It was quite good. Not sure when it will show up outside of Thailand, though it did play at Cannes.
  5.  (5975.79)
    Japanese favorites, here we go. Battle Royale is pretty damn good. There's a special edition out there with about 10 minutes or so extra footage that backstories a bunch of the characters and clears up some motivation questions. Worth the hunt.

    Ponyo on the Cliffside by the Sea. Oy-vey. Beautifully animated hand drawn animation cells are its biggest selling point. Worth watching for this alone, as it is possibly a dying artform thanks to cg movies. Weak script this time out, but bearable. Not up to Spirited Away or Totoro by any stretch, but as I said a treat for the eyes, if you can keep them open.

    Noroi. Now this one I really dug. Its documentary horror, and a bit over the top cheesy towards the very end, but it has some really cool suspense sequences. I dug it because I'm researching Japanese folklore and the "crew" of the documentary interviews people and references materials that I've read about, so it really hooked me and pulled me in.

    Chiisaki Yushatachi Gamera. Released in English as Gamera the Brave. If you have an 8 year old daughter or son, this movie will rock their world. Modern Kaiju stomping with some pretty darn good model buildings and rubber suits. The suits have come a looong way since I was a kid, but the goofy charm of carefree monsters stomping the world is still there. Fun for grown ups too, and great for Japanese learners as the language is very clear and easy on the ear.

    Hitoshi Tadano. A tv series about a tough guy who goes undercover as a nerdy salaryman to root out corruption. In the series I saw there were several jokes about his enormous pecker ie: bouncing a soccer ball off of it like a hacky sack. Heh, I go for the classy stuff.

    Mito Komon, the long running samurai drama (something like 40 years of show, dang!). The Komon, something like a military minister, of Mito province wanders the country incognito rooting out corruption. At the end of every episode there's a big samurai/ninja fight which ends when one of his assistants flashes his seal of office. The bad guys then drop their weapons and cower in shame, begging his forgiveness. The show is pure formula, practically the same thing every single time. But they love it over here and it doesn't look like they'll be stopping the show anytime soon. That and the big joke is that Komon, if you stretch out one of the vowels, is the word for butthole. Huh huh. Butt.

    Yokai DaiSensou, the Great Yokai War. Live Action, directed by Takeshi Miike, a bit confusing if you don't know some of the folk creatures, but thats why they invented google. Nifty costumes, a fun two hours spent.

    Lorelei One of the first flicks I watched after moving to Japan. WW2 drama, the Americans have a third Atomic bomb which they intend on dropping on Tokyo. The Japanese have a submarine with a secret weapons system and a mission to stop the Americans. The FX lean towards the Sky Captain side of computer animation to good effect as I recall. One particularly gruesome death near the end made me itchy for a week. Worth a look for sure.
    • CommentTimeAug 5th 2009
    I just watched /The Chaser/ after hearing the news it has been picked up by a remake by the team who remade /Infernal Affairs/ into /The Departed/. Not quite in the same league as /Oldboy/ or /Memories of Murder/, but still pretty damn good, if also pretty damn bleak.

    Without giving too much away, the movie definitely reinforces the trend I've noticed to highlight the way that the "heroes" of the films tend to make critical mistakes of judgement and The way that plays out in this movie as well as /Memories of Murder/, /Oldboy/, /Infernal Affairs/ and /The Host/ is too consistent to be just coincidence. There's something about the way innocent people are shown to be helpless victims at the hands of an indifferent fate and ineffectual human efforts is just fundamentally different from the typical Western film narrative.