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Friday, June 23, 2017

Cinema of Hong Kong


Why Hong Kong?. . .

As a former British colony, Hong Kong had a greater degree of political and economic freedom than mainland China and Taiwan. It developed into the center for making film for the Chinese speaking world. Hong Kong was the third largest film industry in the world (after Indian cinema and Hollywood.) Despite returning to Chinese sovereignty in July, 1997, Hong Kong film has retained much of its distinct identity and continues to play a prominent part in world cinema.




Bruce Lee laid the foundation for Hong Kong action movies.

"Way of the Dragon" (1972) was directed by Bruce Lee himself. Hong Kong's films first rose to public popularity after the kung fu action movie boom of the 70's. By then, Bruce had already established himself as an action hero and many other actors endeavored to follow his footsteps. Bruce Lee is the founder of the martial art "Jeet Kune Do." He was born Nov. 27.1940, SanFrancisco, CA to a Cantonese opera star, Lee Hoi-chuen. His real name was Lee Jun-fan. He died July20, 1973 in Hong Kong.


Wong Kar-wai is a Hong Kong filmmaker, renowned for his visually unique, highly stylized work. He was born July 17,1958 in Shanghai. By the time he was five years old, his parents relocated to British-ruled Hong Kong.  (photo below)

By 1987, the Hong Kong industry was at a peak enjoying prosperity and productivity. Wong was given the chance to direct his own film. Gangster films were popular at the time. In the wake of John Woos, "A Better Tomorrow" Wong decided to follow suit, however, unlike the other crime films in Hong Kong, he chose to focus on young gangsters. "As Tears Go By" is the story of a conflicted youth. He hired some of the hottest young idols in Hong Kong to be in the movie. It was released in 1988 and was a critical success and he was considered now among the "Hong Kong New Wave."  

"Chunking Express". . .by Wong Kar-Wai

 



Wong came up with "Chunking Express" while facing a two-month break as he waited for equipment to re-record the sound for another movie. He was in a negative state of mind. So, he decided to start a new project to make himself feel comfortable making films again. Conceived and completed within only six weeks. The setting is contemporary Hong Kong. He would film at night what he had written during the day. This is a great film and I recommend watching it!!

Quentin Tarantino's "Rolling Thunder Pictures" production company released "Chunking Express" in the US. His commentary can be found on YouTube. see: Quentin Tarantino Chunking Express  

 

Tarantino talks about the "freedom of expression" and brings out the fact that Hong Kong movies have a feeling of excitement and spontaneity that is an earmark of Hong Kong film. The artists had the freedom to go beyond boundaries. Wong Kar-Wai's films have an added influence of the French New Wave making them an interesting culture blend.

 

Wong Kar-Wai's has an amazing biography worth looking into. Some of the other films he directed are: "As Tears Go By" (1988); "Days of Being Wild" (1990); "Ashes of Time (1994); "Chunking Express" (1994); "Fallen Angels" (1995); "Happy Together" (1997); "2046" (2004); "The Grand Master (2013); "In The Mood For Love" (2000)

 

John Woo is a Chinese born Hong Kong film director, writer and producer. He has directed several notable Hong Kong action films, among them, "A Better Tomorrow" (1986); "The Killer" (1989); "Hard Boiled" (1992); and "Red Cliff (2008/09)

 John Woo on the set with Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible 2" (2000) above 

His Hollywood films include "Broken Arrow" (1996); and "Face Off (1997); and "Mission Impossible" (2000)

Woo made several Heroic Bloodshed films in the late 1980's and early 1990's, nearly all starring Chow Yun-Fat. Woo gained international success with "The Killer" which became the most successful Hong Kong film in American release since Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon (1973.) Woo has a long career as a writer, director and producer. Check the reference links below to find out more about his varied career in Hong Kong and in America.  

Chow Yun-fat is a Hong Kong Actor

He is best known in Asia for his collaborations with filmmaker John Woo in the heroic bloodshed genre films "A Better Tomorrow", "The Killer", "Hard Boiled." 

He was also in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and "Pirates of The Carribbean: At World's End."

 Chow Yun-fat was born May 18, 1955 in Hong Kong. When Chow appeared in the 1980 TV series, "The Bund," it did not take long for him to become a household name in Hong Kong. The series, about the rise and fall of a gangster in the 1930's Shanghai, was a hit throughout Asia and made Chow a star. He went on to become a big screen star working with John Woo in several films.


Jet Li's. . .  hand print and autograph is at the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong. Li is master of several styles of wushu. It is Li's authemtic martial arts prowess that enabled his rise to domestic and international fame.

 

Jet Li made his American film debut in "Lethal Weapon 4" (1988.) He turned down Chow Yun-fats role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000.) because he promised his wife that he would not make any films during her pregnancy.

According to LI, everything he has ever wanted to tell the world can be found in three of his films. The message of "Hero" is that the suffering of one person can never be as the significant as the suffering of a nation. "Unleashed" shows that violence is never a solution, and "Fearless" tells that the biggest enemy of a person is himself. Jet Li thinks that the greatest weapon is a smile and the largest power is love.



Thanks for letting me share my blog with you! Nelda

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For further study here are some links:

AMC                      http://www.filmsite.org

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Roger Ebert          http://www.rogerebert.com 

You Tube              http://www.youtube.com 

Wickepedia          https://www.wickenpedia.com

Criterion             https://www.criterion.com

    

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Artists of the Night

this art is created at night after everyone is asleep. . .

the artists have risked their lives climbing on top of buildings, billboards, and subways plastering their art. . .

Their love of expressing themselves through their art drives them. . . . . 

It does not seem to matter about the risk or the money. . .

I would like to introduce you to a few of them in this short blog.


I will start with one of my picks. . .Jean-Michael Basquiat

  August 12, 1988) Basquiat started as a graffiti artists in Lower East Side Manhattan during the late 1970's. He signed his work as "SAMO." At this time their was a movement of hip hop and punk that went along with the art movement. By the late 1980's he was exhibiting his paintings in galleries and museums internationally. He died at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose. His work is magical and often speaks of social conditions and class struggle. "Basquiat" is a well-done film biography. (streaming on Netflix)  It captures the culture at the time his art was created.

 

Shepard Fairey. . . is another well-known United States artist. . .

Jay-Z rapped about Basquiat and referred to Shepard Fairy in his recent album. . .

 "Frank Shepard Fairey ( born February 15, 1970 (age 47), Born in Charleston, South Carolina. is a contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene. " - wickepedia

 Eight years. Shepard Fairy created 350 of the posters on the left and sold them out in hours during the first Obama campaign.

  • Andre the Giant Has a Posse is a street art campaign based on a design by Shepard Fairey created in 1989 in Providence, Rhode Island. Distributed by the skater community, the stickers featuring an image of AndrĂ© the Giant began showing up in many cities across the US. 

     

    Banksy. . . is another well known street artist from the UK

     

    If you would like to see more of Banksy's work and Shepard's work, there is a unique documentary called "Exit Through the Gift Shop"now streaming on Netflix. 

    The film documentary follows street artists as they do their work in the middle of the night in different cities. At the 2010 film festival it was nominated "Best Documentary Feature." There have been extensive debate whether it is genuine or a mokumentary.  Banksy says it is real when asked.  Give it a watch and see what you think!

     
     I only had time to share a few of my favorite artists! 

     I hope you will continue to research this amazing world of street art. Every major city and country now has their street artists!  The movement is going strong as artists express themselves boldly throughout the dark streets at night.

    Thank you for visiting! Nelda


     

    Here are a few excellent links for more film study:

     AMC            http://www.filmsite.org

    IMBD            htp://www.imbd.com 

    Roger Ebert  http://www.rogerebert.com

    You Tube       http://www.youtube.com 

    Criterion       http://www.criterion.com 

    Wickepedia   http://www.wickepedia.com 

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Walkers, Zombies, Z's

 

Zombies. . .Apocalypse Sweethearts. . .

"Monsters, kid's stuff, dumb, only weird'os would watch zombie movies,"

I beg your pardon??? Take a closer look! 

There are deep rivers running through the land of "apocalypse sweethearts."

 

George Romero was one of the most influential pioneer zombie filmmakers. He gave these "apocalypse sweethearts" their body movements, their look, style and basic awesomeness. His films are timeless. After all these years, he is now getting his place on the "Hollywood Star of Fame Walk."

"Night of the Living Dead" was the first film to establish him as a filmmaker. Some of his films are (1968) "Night of the Living Dead"; (1978) "Dawn of the Dead"; (1985) "Day of the Dead"; (2005) "Land of the Dead"

1. "We call them walkers. How many walkers have you killed?"

2. "How many people have you killed?" 

3.  ..........and why?

Every new person they meet along the pathway has to answer the three questions.  

In the TV series "The Walking Dead", zombies are called walkers. 

This amazing cast "gives it their all" leading us on a suspenseful journey as a viewer! This TV series has entertained us for seven summers. You can look for the seventh season to appear on Netflix soon. I suggest that you watch this series from Season 1 to really get the best out of it!

 

 

 In this photo, is Greg Nicotero and some of the gang!

Nicotero worked with George Romero and is an expert on zombie make-up and style. He gives great attention to detail when designing these walkers and gives each one their individual personality even though he designs thousands of them. They look like you can reach out and touch them - - your neighbors, family and friends who have turned into walkers.


This photo is Morgan rescuing Daryl and Aaron out of this vehicle surrounded by Walkers!


 

Z-nation . . .

is filled with creativity. It is like the "what-if?" version of the apocalypse. The writing flows smoothly in this road trip adventure. They call them Z's in this series. The group travels the country with one goal in mind "a cure for the zombie virus." The talented cast keeps adapting to ever changing environments and there is never a dull moment! Now streaming on Netflix and soon the 3rd season will be released! I can't wait!

Photo is Cassandra with a zombie baby (from Z-nation.)

"Z-nation" cast pulls off drama and humor and all in-between! They are aggressive warriors who are always thinking and coming up with strategies.

 

  "Fear the Walking Dead" begins in L.A. and is a drama about the apocalypse as it develops in L.A.  This impressive series immediately captures the "off-beat" underworld of LA while maintaining the magical, elusive atmosphere of the "city of angels."  

 

The same producers as "The Walking Dead" only instead of the setting being in Georgia and the spooky woods of this region, it takes place in the city of L.A. This series is a drama for adults and movie buffs will appreciate the lighting, set design, acting, writing and other hard work put into these episodes. 

 

 It is interesting to watch these new apocalypse survivors learn a little at a time the rules of the apocalypse (which the "Walking Dead" cast already know after 6 years.) Stressful to watch them endanger themselves! It makes you want to yell out "Hey, watch out! Don't do that!" The new season of this series will appear streaming on "Hulu" as it is being released on AMC. The Third season is coming soon!

 

"Liv" attends a party and ends up being a zombie!  The setting is in Seattle. Clever writing and smart dialogue, keeps you on your toes! This show keeps moving, moving, moving....watch the next episode on CW Tuesday June 13. To catch up, view the first seasons of "iZombie" streaming on Netflix! 

 

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Some of our other titles you might be interested in are: "Japanese Anime"; "The Golden Age of Japanese Cinema"; "Dark Comedy"..just enter in search at bottom. http://www.earthoceanfire.blogger.com

Here are some great links for more study and reviews!

AMC              http://www.filmsite.org 

IMBD             http://www.imbd.com 

Roger Ebert     http://www.rogerebert.com 

Criterion         http://www.criterion.com

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"The Golden Age" of Japanese Cinema

  Cinema of Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world. Movies have been produced in Japan since 1897.

The 1950's is considered the"Golden Age" of Japanese Cinema..

Three great directors were the ground-breaking pioneers who filled the theaters during this time period. 

Akira Kurosawa  Born Mar 23, 1910 - Died September 6, 1998

Kurosawa directed 30 films and his career spanned 57 years.


 

Yasujiro Ozu   Born Dec. 12, 1903 - Died Dec 12, 1963


Kenj Mizoguchi  Born May 16, 1898 - Died Aug 24, 1956

 Three Japanese films from this decade of the 1950's made the "Sight and Sound" Critics and Directors poll  (2002) for the best films of all time. "Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Tokyo Story."        

                                  Photos from "Rashomon."

 

 

1952 . . . Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" won several awards including Best Foreign Film in 1952.  This film was at the beginning of the "Golden Age." Toshiro Mifune also got the world's attention in this film. Mifune is the subject of a recent documentary narrated by Keanu Reeves. I recommend this one!  It covers a lot of ground concerning the conditions these films were made under and how they were directed.  ("Mifune: The Last Samurai") is now streaming on Netflix.

 

  1954 . . . Two of Japan's most influential films were released. "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa. Also in 1954 Kurosawa's "Ikiru" and Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" were released.

 Photos of the "Seven Samurai"


 The American version of "The Seven Samurai" is "The Magnificent Seven" with Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen. 

 

1954. . . "Godzilla" was also released in America as "Godzilla, King of the Monsters." Ishiro Honda directed this anti-nuclear drama. Godzilla became an international icon of Japan and inspired a whole subgenre of kaiju films.

 

 

 

1956. . . Kenji Mizoguchi died in 1956 and ended his career with a series of masterpieces including "The Life of Oharu" (1952), "Ugetsu"(1953), "Sansho the Bailiff" (1954).  

 "His films have an extraordinary force and purity. They shake and move the viewer by the power, refinement and compassion with which they confront human suffering." quote from Mark Le Fanu

 

  Yasujiro Ozu began directing color films beginning with "Equinox Flower" (1958), "Good Morning" (1959) and "Floating Weeds" (1958) which was adapted from his earlier silent film. He began his film career during the silent film era. He was a screenwriter and a director.

Ozu loved movies and would play hooky from school in order to go see the hollywood movies in the local theater. In 1923, he landed a job as an camera assistant in Tokyo at "Shochiku Studios" and three years later was made an assistant director and directed his first film the next year "Blade of Penitence."

 

 Be sure and watch some of these fascinating, timeless films. You can use the reference links below to search them out. Also you will find some of these streaming on Netflix and Hulu!

 

 Thank you for visiting my blog!

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Other articles you might like are:

"Japanese Anime"

"Surrealism in Film"

"Dark Comedy"

 

For more info here are some great links:

http://www.rogerebert.com        great film reviews

http://www.imbd.com

http://www.wickepedia.com 

http://www.criterion.com 

http://www.filmsite.org