Monday, December 1, 2014

Mermaid Legend (1984)

This revenge thriller caught me off-guard. Sometimes, you expect to watch a decent film, then you get one that's quite good, maybe even great. 

This one opens with a husband and wife who make a living off pearl diving. 
It was very common in East Asia for women to be the sole gender responsible for pearl diving (and most other kinds of diving, in general), so the wife dons the deep sea gear, while the husband steers the boat and reels in her lifeline. 

Early on, while on a pearl hunt, the husband is murdered, and the assailants make an attempt at the wife too. After making it to shore safely, the wife (Migiwa) seeks out help, but everyone, including the police, seem to infer immediately that she must have murdered her husband. 

Trusting no one, she seeks out her husband's friend, the son of a local businessman, but even he seems unwilling to help, and asks her if she is responsible. 

The story unfolds into a political cover-up, as her husband witnessed some murders earlier that are connected to business monopolies operating in the area and their yakuza contacts.

***SPOILER ALERT***
What starts with distrust and confusion ends in a brutal, yet satisfying "kill them all" scene, when the wife discovers the culprits, and takes them all out with a fishing spear. Maybe two dozen or more men are impaled at a business banquet. Seeing salarymen meet their demise in this exaggerated fashion was even more satisfying than the many revenge killings of Mifune in Kurosawa's slightly less violent, though theatrical 'The Bad Sleep Well'.
***SPOILERS DONE***

I recommend this for fans of J-cinema, or someone looking for a film with political depth to write about, talk about, watch.

directed by Toshiharu Ikeda
starring Mari Shirato

Thursday, March 6, 2014

John's Holy Grail: Top 100 Films (One Per Director)

a personal list:

1) The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache, 1973)

2) L'Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)

3) Hitler: a film from Germany (Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, 1977)

4) West of the Tracks (Wang Bing, 2003)

5) Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

6) Zero for Conduct (Jean Vigo, 1933)

7) The 400 Blows (Fran├žois Truffaut, 1959)

8) Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)

9) Le Trou (Jacques Becker, 1960)

10) Battle of Chile (Patricio Guzman, 1975)

11) Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz, 2007)

12) Les Cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1959)

13) L'Amour Fou (Jacques Rivette, 1969)

14) Perceval le Gallois (Eric Rohmer, 1978)

15) Veredas (Joao Cesar Monteiro, 1978)

16) Anatomy of a Relationship (Luc Moullet, 1976)

17) Seyyit Han (Yilmaz Guney, 1968) 

18) Mandara (Akio Jissoji, 1971)

19) Eros Plus Massacre (Yoshishige Yoshida, 1969)

20) Nanami: Inferno of First Love (Susumu Hani, 1968)

21) Pastoral: To Die in the Country (Shuji Terayama, 1974)

22) The Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966)

23) Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura, 1964)

24) A Fugitive from the Past (Tomu Uchida, 1965)

25) Noisy Requiem (Yoshihiko Matsui, 1988)

26) March Comes in Like a Lion (Hitoshi Yazaki, 1991)

27) Tokyo Decadence (Ryu Murakami, 1992)

28) The Sting of Death (Kohei Oguri, 1991)

29) Picnic (Shunji Iwai, 1996)

30) The Rebel (Nagisa Oshima, 1962)

31) Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

32) The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1969)

33) On the Silver Globe (Andrzej Zulawski, 1988)

34) Valley of the Bees (Frantisek Vlacil, 1968)

35) The Hourglass Sanatorium (Wojciech Has, 1973)

36) The Red and the White (Miklos Jancso, 1967)

37) O Megalexandros (Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1980)

38) Three Days (Sharunas Bartas, 1992)

39) Days of Eclipse (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1988)

40) The Thrushes are Still Singing (Nikos Nikolaidas, 1979)

41) Idlers of the Fertile Valley (Nikos Panayotopoulos, 1978)

42) Black God, White Devil (Glauber Rocha, 1964)

43) Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

44) Hardcore (Paul Schrader, 1979)

45) Entr'acte (Rene Clair, 1924)

46) Return to Reason (Man Ray, 1923)

47) L'Age d'Or (Luis Bunuel, 1930)

48) Lot in Sodom (James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, 1933)

49) Satantango (Bela Tarr, 1994)

50) The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

51) Arabian Nights (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1974)

52) La Belle Captive (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1983)

53) Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat, 1985)

54) Du Cote d'Orouet (Jacques Rozier, 1973)

55) Moon in the Gutter (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1983)

56) Geography of the Body (Willard Maas, 1943)

57) Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969)

58) Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971)

59) Sebastiane (Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress, 1976)

60) Wife to Be Sacrificed (Masaru Konuma, 1974)

61) Woods are Wet (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973)

62) Secrets Behind the Wall (Koji Wakamatsu, 1965)

63) Black Snow (Tetsuji Takechi, 1965)

64) Effi Briest (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)

65) Young and Healthy as a Rose (Jovan Jovanovic, 1971)

66) Men and Women (Walter Hugo Khouri, 1964)

67) The Unscrupulous Ones (Ruy Guerra, 1962)

68) Away with Words (Christopher Doyle, 1999)

69) Autumn Moon (Clara Law, 1992)

70) An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty (Eddie Ling Ching Fong, 1984)

71) Still Life (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1974)

72) Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)

73) Lies (Jang Sun-woo, 1999)

74) Green Fish (Lee Chang-dong, 1997)

75) Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

76) Funeral Parade of Roses (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969)

77) Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

78) Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)

79) Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986)

80) Our Sunhi (Hong Sang-soo, 2013)

81) Camel(s) (Park Ki-yong, 2002)

82) Eureka (Shinji Aoyama, 2000)

83) Maboroshi no Hikari (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1996)

84) A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)

85) The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983)

86) The Goddess (Wu Yonggang, 1934)

87) Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota, 2001)

88) The Long Darkness (Kei Kumai, 1972)

89) Tree Without Leaves (Kaneto Shindo, 1986)

90) Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise (Hiroyuki Yamaga, 1987)

91) Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs, 2004)

92) The Double Life of Veronique (Krzystof Kieslowski, 1991) 

93) M/Other (Nobuhiro Suwa, 2001)

94) Visage (Tsai Ming-liang, 2009)

95) Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, 2012)

96) Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)

97) At Land (Maya Deren, 1944)

98) Frozen (Wang Xiaoshuai, 1996)

99) The Youth Killer (Kazuhiko Hasegawa, 1976)

100) Fireworks (Takeshi Kitano, 1997)