New restorations of movies from early and late in the career of King Hu reconfirm his influential position in Chinese cinema as a master of martial arts and swordplay films: action and poetry blend seamlessly in Come Drink With Me (1966), The Fate of Lee Khan (1973) and Raining in the Mountain (1979).
A lot of my recent viewing has been catching up on a range of movies from the ’60s through the ’80s, some of which I saw when they were first released, while others weren’t accessible to me at the time. These include some foreign classics … and quite a bit of trash.
Recent viewing includes a stark western (compared to the work of Dreyer by Bertrand Tavernier), an entertaining adventure souffle from frequent collaborators John Huston and Humphrey Bogart, and a ground-breaking satirical drama from Robert Aldrich which dealt sympathetically with lesbianism in the late 1960s.
Film history is full of lost movies and forgotten filmmakers, but the case of Sadao Yamanaka is one of the saddest; a brilliant director in 1930s Japan, he died young and all but three of his twenty-seven features are lost. The three that remain are all great works of narrative art.
Masters of Cinema’s new Blu-ray of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure (1997) drew me back for another attempt to understand this maddeningly enigmatic horror film; like its mysterious killer, it exerts an almost hypnotic hold on the viewer.
Like many filmmakers of his generation, Walter Hill began his career with strong, individualistic work, but somehow eventually drifted into aimlessness. His directorial debut, Hard Times (1975), still holds up, but his most recent film, The Assignment (2016), is transgressive but unfocused.
A new digital restoration of King Hu’s epic period ghost story Legend of the Mountain (1979) from Masters of Cinema reveals this languid masterpiece in all its pictorial glory; a stunning dream of a movie.
In her January 1 post, the Self-Styled Siren pays homage to the Japanese actress Hideko Takamine, who died December 28 at age 86. The Siren’s warm comments immediately sent me off to watch When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960), which Takamine stars in as the bar hostess Keiko. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that […] Read More