Saturday, February 16, 2008

Secret Sunshine

I wrote a review of the new Korean film Secret Sunshine. The editor did a bit of a hatchet job on it -- apparently I wasn't supposed to mention that the whole story hinges on the kidnapping and murder of a child. I didn't consider it a spoiler; the murder happens early on and the rest of the film is a reaction to it. If you decide to read the review, bear in mind you're getting the expurgated, and thus somewhat awkward, version.

Friday, February 15, 2008

RIP Kon Ichikawa

There he goes, last of the breed. Kon Ichikawa was a member of the Yonki no Kai, the Club of the Four Knights along with Akira Kurosawa, Keisuke Kinoshita and Masaki Kobayashi. They all wrote Dora Heita together (that's Kon directing Koji Yakusho on the set of Dora Heita -- I write all about this film in my upcoming book, the manuscript of which I've happily just sent to the publisher; the new title is Warring Clans, Flashing Blades: A Samurai Film Companion).

Ichikawa had a sure hand and a wry sense of humor. Most of the stuff I've seen is from the 50's like The Burmese Harp (1956), Conflagration (1958), Odd Obsession (1959), Fires on the Plain (1959), all must-sees. But Dora Heita is in a class by itself, a 21st century film made from a 30-year-old script by an old duffer who straddled film eras effortlessly and, with Yakusho's help, delivered the goods in a precursor to the neo-samurai films of Yoji Yamada like Twilight Samurai (2002) and The Hidden Blade (2004).

Here's an obit.

On an unrelated note, like a cayenne cashew, Bai Ling is one hot nut.