Monthly Archives: November 2014

Last week’s movies

The Grandmaster (2013), Kar Wai Wong

Amores Perros (2000), Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Tokyo-Ga (1985), Wim Wenders

Citizenfour (2014), Laura Poitras

Sunshine (2007), Danny Boyle

Mother (2009), Bong Joon-ho

Movie of the week: Mother

Mother. Makes my 2009 top 10 – #7. The opening scene with Kim Hye-ja trundling along an open field reveals nothing that lead up to that moment, though you can tell whatever it was was shell shocking. It’s her post-traumatic moment, and you can see her dedication – though you have no idea to what, or to whom. Like The Host, Bong Joon-ho focuses on the family, their relationships, sacrifices, and day to day life. Bong Joon-ho’s builds suspense like Hitchcock did – you know what is going to happen, and you almost cringe when it finally does. When the mystery is revealed, I thought to myself – what the expletive deleted?

Sunshine. These cgi space movies can be a dime a dozen, and Sunshine breaks away with its cast and performances. Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider, Once Were Warriors), Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, and Cillian Murphy. You also get a chance at a locked room mystery. I like how Danny Boyle gives you shades of horror with his almost subliminal edits.

Citizenfour. Out of habit, I still type in a new film’s title plus Ebert and get star ratings from the critics that work at Citizenfour showed 4 stars. Then I find out from Laura Poitras’ opening narration that this is the third in her post-9/11 America trilogy, the first two being My Country, My Country (2006) and The Oath (2010). They look good, so onto the queue they go – #326, and 327. One of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year.

Tokyo-Ga. For some reason, I thought I was listening to Werner Herzog narrating – they sound so alike. He must have been in my subconscious after I saw the actors in this film as they do meet at the top of the Tokyo Tower. Werner talks for a few minutes – in German – with no translation or explanation as to what he’s saying. The same with Chishu Ryu’s interview – no subtitles, but Wim Wenders does explain what he says. The meat of this Ozu documentary is when Yuharu Atsuta, who worked with Ozu for 15 years first as assistant cameraman, then cameraman, walks into a tatami room with a triangular wooden tripod base, then a very low tripod, then an sets up an old Mitchel camera used in Ozu’s last film. His explanation of working with Ozu, the real nuts and bolts, is fascinating, through, and instructive. You even see an even lower metal tripod, designed by Ozu, for exterior shots.

Amores Perros. The second best film from Iñárritu that I’ve seen (Birdman, Babel). I’ll see 21 grams next, just to complete the trilogy. In Ebert’s review, he says there is a disclaimer about animals at the beginning of the film – the dvd does not show this. I’m glad I sought more of his films, as I’m getting a better understanding on where he’s coming from.

The Grandmaster.  I would rank this slightly above In the Mood for Love (2001), which was easily above 8/10. Both star Tony Leung, and The Grandmaster has Ziyi Zhang. The Grandmaster has the smoothness and feel of ItMfL, and adds a historically based storyline with a surprising tie in to a famous American martial artist. I’m ready for Kar Wai Wong’s next film already.


20 Signature Shots and Techniques of the World’s Greatest Directors

20 Signature Shots and Techniques of the World’s Greatest Directors,, By David Katz And Oliver Lunn

  • Richard Linklater: walk-and-talk dolly shot
  • Paul Thomas Anderson: whip pan
  • Terrence Malick: lens flare
  • Alfred Hitchcock: zoom dolly
  • Gus Van Sant: steadicam shot from behind
  • Orson Welles / Gregg Toland: low angle shot
  • Martin Scorsese: slow-moving dolly shots set to classic rock music
  • Brian De Palma: split-screen
  • Wong Kar-wai: motion-blur
  • Dardenne brothers: long-take with steadicam, focusing on the back of an actor’s head
  • Sam Peckinpah: slow-mo shootouts