March 23, 2006


Toshiaki Toyoda's HANGING GARDEN is downright spectacularIf the Tribeca Film Festival was a puppy I would kick it. If the Tribeca Film Festival needed a blood transfusion and I was the only person with the same rare blood type I would laugh and say I'm afraid of needles. If the Tribeca Film Festival was an extraterrestrial stranded far from home who needed my help I would knock it on the head and call my friends over for a barbeque.

That said, one of the few Asian movies they're showing this year is HANGING GARDEN which is downright spectacular. If you get a chance you should go check it out. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda of NINE SOULS fame, it's a family drama that makes Takashi Miike's VISITOR Q look well-adjusted and it's yet another installment in the new Japanese film wave.

I'd pit any current Japanese film against movies from most other countries these days if movies had to fight it out in cage matches. Whereas Korean movies get all the festival attention, and Hong Kong and Chinese mega-productions get all the cash, Japan has spent the last four years quietly turning out a bunch of movies that are, quite simply, the most innovative and best movies on the market.

You may not love all of them, but look at HANA & ALICE, PING PONG, CASSHERN, OUT, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, PRINCESS RACCOON, 9 SOULS, VIBRATOR, UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS, MIND GAME, TWILIGHT SAMURAI, YAJI AND KITA: THE MIDNIGHT PILGRIMS and THE TASTE OF TEA. This is a selection of flicks that pop immediately to my mind and I can't think of 13 movies from the last four years from any other country that cover this wide of a range and are this singularly accomplished. You may not love them all, but each is totally unique and carries a great fresh taste that's loaded with vitamins!

March 23, 2006 at 10:45 AM in News | Permalink


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Tracked on Mar 31, 2006 2:25:04 AM


That's quite a line-up. Let me counter with these Korean films from the same period:

Save the Green Planet
Memories of Murder
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
The President's Last Bang
A Tale of Two Sisters
Welcome to Dongmakgol
A Bittersweet Life
Crying Fist
Spring Summer Winter Fall. . . and Spring
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

The real test is whether anyone can come up with a list of American movies -- 2002-2006 -- to match the breadth and depth of the aforementioned Korean and Japanese films. Any takers?

Posted by: Renee | Mar 23, 2006 11:21:16 AM

just saw the line-up of the tribeca film festival and was disappointed (hey - they also show 'the promise')

that said: we are counting on the nyaff!

Posted by: su-su | Mar 23, 2006 11:43:34 AM

Bloody well said! I'm quoting that affirmation here in Brazil.

And yet, it kills me that those movies don't get wider recognition - not in terms of a larger audience, but as subject of conversations, studies, analysis of just simple gushing from so-called film buffs. It can't be all just Claire Denis, y'know (and I learned to love that woman).

When we screen things like Survive Style 5+ in our very poor film festival we organize and watch the audience's reaction, it fills our hearts, really. I personally find those movies so amazing it's just not fair to be the only one appreciating it - we feel like sharing them, spreading the word, which is what we try to do in our national website and festivals. Hopefully, Japan Foundation will join this ride with us this year. It's a wet dream to have a program including Rampo Noir, Sachiko Hanai, Mokdugi Video, Big Bang Love, The Host... it's just a dream anyway. Lucky those who can catch them.

Posted by: Krivochein | Mar 23, 2006 12:21:01 PM

And Survive Style 5+, she says quietly but relentlessly.

Posted by: Jessica | Mar 24, 2006 12:46:33 PM

I agree with Grady - Katsuhito Ishii's 'The Taste of Tea' was by far one of the most heartwarming films I watched last year (on DVD). I'd also like to suggest 'Stereo Future 2002' and 'A Snake of June' as possible contenders. I'm as eager as Grady is to see 'Hanging Garden' especially after having experienced the harrowing '9 Souls'. But as for the contention that Japanese cinema has somehow been overlooked, or that it's more accomplished or varied than Korean film, I'd have to say that Renee has a pretty compelling case, too. About 1/3 of the pictures she mentions, from Lee Chang-Dong's 'Oasis' and Park Chan-Wook's 'Sympathy for Mr Vengeance' to Jeong Jun-Hwan's 'Save the Green Planet', will be forever etched in my memory as some of the freshest and most innovative work I've ever seen. In the final analysis, I'm glad I don't have to choose or sit on any juries, because quite frankly, I love all film, regardless of whether it was shot in Pusan, Oslo or Tokyo.

Posted by: jon pais | Mar 24, 2006 10:44:07 PM

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