Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MUSA The Warrior (2001)

MUSA, The Warrior (2001)

May 19th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

In 2001 the South Korean film industry produced a period epic of a scale never attempted by a Korean film before. The result of this was MUSA, a film that would set the tone for the ascension of South Korea as both a regional and world cinematic power for the next decade.
The story is loosely based upon a historical incident in which a group of Korean diplomats was arrested on a visit to the court of the newly established Ming Dynasty in 1375. In previous years they had supported the Mongolian Yuen Dynasty, leading to a period of mistrust after its fall. In the film they find themselves freed, but stranded in the barren deserts of Northern China.
To help broaden the regional appeal of the film Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi was cast as a Ming Princess that happens to fall under the protection of the Koreans.

South Korea, Director Kim Sung-Su, Cast Jung Woo-Sung, Joo Jin-Mo, Ahn Sung-Gi, Zhang Ziyi, Park Jung-Hak and Park Yong-Woo, 130 minutes, in Korean and Mandarin with English subtitles

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (1972)

***********PLEASE READ***************
For this week only the Asian Film Series will be presented at an alternate time and location. The date is still the same, but the film will be shown at 7:35PM in Bolton B52. For location information please see this link http://www4.uwm.edu/map/vt-cent.cfm Bolton is the building behind Lubar Hall on N. Maryland ave. The room is located in the basement and includes a theater style set up with a DVD projector.

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (1972)

May 12th, 7:35PM in Bolton B52

For decades a war widow has been trying to overturn her husbands status as a deserter, under which charge he was executed days after the surrender. Convinced of a conspiracy by the top brass at covering up the true circumstances, she begins to track down and interview the few surviving soldiers that witnessed the events in the jungles of New Guinea. What emerges challenges concepts of the very notion of truth.
In 1945 a fire in a Japanese munitions factory would leave many of its workers dead. One of the survivors was future director Kinji Fukasaku. This experience in his teenage years would contribute to a deep mistrust of authority, especially those in power during the war. This colored many of his later films including a series of gangster or Yakuzza films known as Battles Without Honor or Humanity that communicated a gritty and critical portrayal of concepts of the value Japanese honor and tradition. Under the Flag of the Rising Sun is one of the few times in which he was able to directly comment on the war. His cinematic style mixes documentary like elements and the use of still images to create a compelling exploration of difficult subject matter.

In the three decades after the end of the war, very few Japanese films had been made regarding the military and of those an even smaller number were particularly critical. There was a slight trend towards exploring the life of average soldiers who were sometimes shown to have been abused by their commanding officers. The best known of these is Fires on the Plain (1959), which deals with desertion and acts of brutality and cannibalism. But this, along with depictions of Japanese war crimes remains a deeply taboo subject for Japanese film making every cinematic exploration of this subject particularly valuable.

Japan, Director Kinji Fukasaku, Cast Sachiko Hidari, Tetsuro Tamba, Noboru Mitani, Sanae Nakahara and Kanemon Nakamura, 96 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gumnaam (1965)

Gumnaam (1965)

May 5th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

Seven people win a free vacation to a undisclosed location. That is the event that sets the film in motion. But the trip is not a smooth one and the plane makes an emergency landing at an isolated stretch of coast, that is except for the large mansion and servants that seem to be expecting them. Now murder and mystery are the name of the game.
Based upon the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, Gumnaam was in its day an A-Grade picture, showcasing superior production values then other contemporary Indian films. Despite the ravages of time something of this pedigree shines through, especially in the set design of the mansion.
In other ways the film is typical of Indian cinema in general. With frequent musical numbers, an absurd comic relief character and prodigious running time. But to those that appreciate the unique qualities of Indian cinema these are far from negative traits. To sweeten the concoction the famous singer Mohammed Rafi lends his voice to the film delivering an iconic opening number. Many call Gumnaam a classic, but it is without doubt a milestone in the creation of the Indian suspense film.

India, Director Raja Nawathe, Cast Nanda, Manoj Kumar, Pran, Madan Puri and Tarun Bose, 151 minutes, in Hindi with English subtitles