Tag Archives: foreign film

This Month at the Siskel Center: September 2008

Quite possibly the “biggest deal” out of all the films being screened in the entire city of Chicago this month are part of a series entitled “Les Sixties” playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Film nerds would rightfully be quick to guess that the series covers films from the French film genre, La Nouvelle Vague (also known as the French New Wave). This series includes all of the following films: Contempt, The 400 Blows, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Jules and Jim, Le Doulos, Six In Paris, Last Year At Marienbad and Cleo From 5 to 7.

Other series playing this month at the Siskel Center cover world cinema in the ’30s, abject expressionism, Russian cinema (of which the infamous Battleship Potemkin is a part of) and a handful of Derek Jarman films.

There will be weeklong runs of Kagemusha (directed by Akira Kurosawa), Viva and Beautiful Losers (directed by Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard). According to the Siskel Center, co-director Aaron Rose will be present for audience discussion, but only for two screenings.

In addition to all that, the Siskel Center will also be doing special, limited screenings of Hollywood Chinese and Johnny Dodgeball.

Check out siskelfilmcenter.org for info and showtimes. Check out the internet for info on any of the films mentioned above.

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Martin Wong Fully Endorses Stephen Chow

The above list of Stephen Chow movies was scribbled down in an incredibly short amount of time by Martin Wong after a Q&A that the two editors of Giant Robot (Martin Wong and Eric Nakamura) did when they came to Chicago last April. Somehow I managed to both hold on to this scrap of paper and not get this short list up here until now, but I still feel like these movies are worth checking out, so…

Stephen Chow is most famous in America for Kung Fu Hustle, but he isn’t as big of a deal here as he should be. I hadn’t seen much of anything that he had done, but saw God Of Gamblers II a few months prior, so I asked Martin if he had any recommendations. What you see above is what he provided. A lot of these movies are pretty hard to get in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to find. If worse comes to worse, you can always go to yesasia.com.

Keep in mind that just because this list was written on a random envelope as fast as possible doesn’t mean that you can’t take these recommendations seriously.

Giant Robot features Stephen Chow in their 53rd issue. Just sayin’.

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Awesome Book Week: Day 2 – Queen of Japanese Movie

No that isn’t a typo, that’s actually the name of this book.

Queen Of Japanese Movie and CD

The book breaks down two dozen films into five different series and then lists each film within that series in the chronological order of its release date. All films glossed over in this book are listed below in the format just described.

Stray Cat Rock
Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter
Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal
Stray Cat Rock: Beat ‘71
Girl’s Junior High School: Bad Habit
Girl’s Junior High School: Trouble At Graduation
Girl’s Junior High School: Too Young To Play Like This
Bad Girl Mako
Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee’s Counterattack
Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee’s Challenge
Girl Boss Guerilla
Girl Boss
Girl Boss: Escape From Reform School
Girl Boss: Diamond Showdown
Girl Boss: Crazy Ball Game
Terrifying Girl’s High School: Women’s Violent Classroom
Terrifying Girl’s High School: Lynch Law Classroom
Terrifying Girl’s High School: Delinquent Convulsion Group
Terrifying Girl’s High School: Animal Courage
Sex And Fury
Female Yakuza Tale
Criminal Women: Killing Melody
Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs

I couldn’t make up some of those names if I tried. Those are all the literal English translations too; it’s not like I threw the original titles into some barely-working translator duct taped to a ouija board. Though the text herein is pretty light – and the text in English even lighter – unfortunately there’s no overview of “pink films” in general. At least there are short bios on Meiko Kaji, Han Bunjaku, Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto. Then again, it does say that it’s part of the Visual Book Series right on the cover so…

I knew going into special ordering this that I’d be getting a lot of eye candy and not a lot of analysis, but that’s fine with me given the layout and reproduction quality of the film stills and posters. I can thank this guy for previewing a book that I otherwise would have been unable to look at before going through the trouble of ordering it. I suggest checking out some of the scans he did to get a better idea of what this book contains. I’d scan more, but what’s the point if he beat me to it? I’m not kidding, look it over. Too bad the poor soul got shorted a cover and an obi.

What caught me off guard was the CD that comes with this book isn’t just some extra piece of plastic. Honestly, I could’ve cared less that it came with this book and was pissed that including it upped the price. It’s not bad though, not bad at all. I never would’ve thought that the soundtrack for Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter would’ve been so…groovy. Keep in mind, these were all made between 1970 and 1974, so it’s not that crazy for some of it to sound like something that would be backing James Brown’s wailing. Nor is it crazy for some of it to sound like something that would be playing in the background at a party while some guy with a shitty moustache incessantly screamed about “tripping out of his mind.” A nice surprise, but I could’ve done without it.

If I haven’t hit the point home hard enough, pay attention: this book is for die hard weirdos only. Honestly, I think it’s great, but without seeing any of these movies (only some are available in the U.S.), you can’t possibly appreciate the contents of this book. In other words, check out as many as you can. (Having an affinity towards violence and/or Japanese women is not required to view any of the aforementioned films but is highly recommended.)

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“Everybody’s Crazy” (Violent Cop – Part 2)


Violent Cop being…violent.

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Violent Cop: The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift? (Part One)

Probably not…

Unless the person you were giving it to was me or another Takeshi Kitano fan.

I just tried to watch Violent Cop with a few friends of mine and they couldn’t force themselves to get into it at all. I on the other hand, had a much better idea of what we were getting into before watching it. Though not as agonizingly slow as Boiling Point, Violent Cop‘s pace wasn’t enough to keep my friends interested, whereas I on the other hand…

I’m sure you see where this is going.

To get to the point, I’m glad that at the very least my friends gave it a shot; they probably never would’ve seen it under any other circumstances. That doesn’t really make their impatience any less frustrating though.

To each their own.

More to come when I actually get a chance to finish it.

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Film Section Updated

…sort of.

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ATTENTION CHICAGOANS (or those who wish they were):

Shohei Imamura

Already in progress is a two month, 18 film run of works by Japanese director Shohei Imamura at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. If you’re too lazy to click on any of the links, let me just say that The Ballad of Narayama and The Eel are both playing at the Siskel Center and both won the Palm d’Or (the top prize at Cannes). In short, if you’re skeptical and/or don’t give a shit, you should…and you should at the very least see those.

Synopses of scheduled films and showtimes can be viewed here. The series runs until March 4th.

(I had hesitated putting this up earlier, assuming that friends and strangers alike would hold me accountable for their possible dissatisfaction with any number of these films, but then I realized just how rare the chance is to get to see these at all, and changed my mind.)

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