Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Passing Flickers (1982)
May 17th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)
This screening will be my last as head of the Asian Film Series, but a new individual will be taking over and hopefully it will continue for many more years. Look to this blog for information regarding where to find news on future screenings. To celebrate this end I have chosen to screen a film that is very special to me along with a newsreel, the topic of both being moviemaking in Hong Kong. The short film is a remembrance of the actress Linda Lin Dai after her 1964 suicide. With a kind of bizarre glee, the Shaw Brothers studio put their entire promotional department behind an extravaganza of Lin Dai as they continued to put out still unreleased films starring the actress.
The feature is a 1982 film also produced by the Shaw Brothers studio and directed by Li Han Hsiang. Named after his popular newspaper column which anonymously informed readers of all of the strange goings on in the movie business, Passing Flickers is an episodic comedy following the behind the scenes progress of a series of fictional productions ranging from studio to independent style works. One of Hong Kong’s great studio directors, Li had been working since the 1950’s making everything from refined palace dramas to erotic farces which mixed everything from melodrama, slapstick, horror and complex historical illusion.
Passing Flickers is packed full of both general and specific references to three decades of Hong Kong cinema. This includes an extended reference to the 1962 Shaw Brothers version of Madame White Snake and their abortive Wong Fei Hung films. This should not discourage those unfamiliar with such topics from seeing the film, as it works upon many levels. In a way both feature and short provide an indictment of and exultation Hong Kong film from an insider’s perspective.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Taebaek Mountains (1994)
May 10th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)
A village finds itself in the impossible situation as both sides demand their loyalty in the just crusade to defeat the other. Seen through the perspectives of a wide range of individuals, the front lines have again shifted north while partisans remain in the mountains to continue the fight.
This 1994 film dealing with domestically sensitive issues regarding the war performed poorly despite its ambitious scale. Similar tales have found their audience years later when time has made a public dialog more palatable. During the war the front lines shifted radically south and north to the degree that nearly every point of the peninsula experienced this at least once if not several times. This underscores why the material of this film might bring up difficult memories for many.
South Korea, Director Im Kwon-taek, Cast Ahn Sung-ki and Bang Eun-jin, 168 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
May 3rd, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)
A tagline sometimes used for this film is "Magician, Murderer, Saint" and that is a deceptively accurate summation of the story of Milarepa. The figure himself was an eleventh century Yogi who would become one of the most celebrated Tibetan historical figures for both his accomplishments and an extremely influential biography written after his death. This film represents a retelling of that story including depictions of the supernatural events that intertwined with his life.
As a figure Milarepa represented a yogic tradition distinct from the monastic Buddhism that most associate with Tibet. This version of the story was produced and directed by Neten Chokling a Lama from Bhutan and shot in terrain similar to that found in Tibet. The narrative of Milarepa’s story reinforces classical Buddhist patterns of transcendence of worldly matters after a misspent youth and an acceptance of one’s own mortality.