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  • This Transient Life

    This Transient Life

    ★★★★★

    Mujo (無常), in Buddhism’s terminology, means impermanence. Somehow Akio Jissoji’s first full-length feature film has a more elaborated English title, called This Transient Life. Both titles don’t prepare the viewer for its provocative, sexual, and incestuous contents, nor remotely hint at any startling matters. It would be an arduous task to ascertain the featured ideology and argument, mainly the behavior of the free-spirited Masao, whose actions are not based on any morality and social mores. There’s a scene towards the…

  • The Time to Live and the Time to Die

    The Time to Live and the Time to Die

    ★★★★★

    Even though I find the English title a bit overdramatized and I much prefer the original Chinese one which literally means “remembrance of childhood/childhood story”, it indeed states the truth of the film. The Time to Live and the Time to Die depicts a quotidian life in Taiwan consisted of anecdotes. It’s the autobiographical film of the director, Hou even tried to film his story at his secondary school but was sadly rejected. He said the only two fictional elements…

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  • Shanghai Triad

    Shanghai Triad

    ★★★½

    Filtering through the eyes of a provincial young boy newly arrived at the dazzling city of Shanghai in the 30s, Zhang Yimou’s gangster film offers an allegorical depiction of the current oppressive state under the Communist Party as well as the hypocritical and demoralized interpersonal relationship for the sake of prevailing in the race of capitalism. We are either victims, or perpetrators, in a world turned upside down.

  • The Raven

    The Raven

    ★★★

    Béla Lugosi played yet another mad doctor in The Raven, which itself is less an adaptation than a self-referential inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s entire work. I admire how it’s unflinchingly sadistic for no Freudian reason. Even Boris Karloff’s disfigured murder regains its conscience at the very end, both characters remain unsympathetic and I’m absolutely fine with that. The other characters are perfunctory and do exactly the dumb things the plot need. Nevertheless, it’s Lugosi and Karloff show, and they delivered the campy horror.

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  • Yi Yi

    Yi Yi

    ★★★★★

    Added to: Sight and Sound Greatest Films
    Added to: My 100 All Time Favorite Films

    The Rearward View of Life

    Near the end of the film Yi Yi, there is a funeral, the little boy Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang) reads out the letter he wrote for his deceased grandma (Ruyun Tang), saying he would like to be a person of showing stuff others don't see, and now when he sees his baby cousin, he would feel old too. Every time when…

  • Shoplifters

    Shoplifters

    ★★★★½

    Added to “2018, Ranked” & “Palme d’Or Winners, Ranked

    A summation of Koreeda’s works. Abandoned children in Nobody Knows (2004); slice of family life in Still Walking (2008) and Our Little Sister (2015); parenthood without blood ties in Like Father, Like Son (2013); the dissolution of traditional family relationship, from society detachment in Distance (2001) to failure of fatherhood in After the Storm (2016); and the crime of the marginalized people in The Third Murder (2017), all interwoven into Shoplifters. It…