Film

Short Films: Je t’aime John Wayne (1991) and Inside Out (1999)

Two delightful British shorts. Toby MacDonald‘s ‘Je t’aime John Wayne‘ is a witty tribute to ’60s Godardian actor Jean Paul Belmondo. Watch the unfolding of a hero, played with great aplomb by Kris Marshall. ‘Inside Out‘ by the Guard brothers, Charles and Thomas, captures a fleeting moment on busy Oxford Street in London sans dialogue, but with a hefty dose of ‘non-verbalism’. Watch.

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Jan Švankmajer: Animation Shorts II

I am a great admirer of Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. I wish not to put a label to his work, but very often the tag ‘surrealism’ comes into play in describing his ‘super-real’ and very often, irreverent and thematically dark animation. Living and practicing his film craft throughout in his native Prague in the Czech Republic, Švankmajer’s vision of the world is uncoloured by chewing gum commercial imperatives. Which is, a good thing. Take a look.

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Jan Švankmajer: Animation Shorts I

I am a great admirer of Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. I wish not to put a label to his work, but very often the tag ‘surrealism’ comes into play in describing his ‘super-real’ and very often, irreverent and thematically dark animation. Living and practicing his film craft in his native Prague in the Czech Republic, Švankmajer’s vision of the world is uncoloured by chewing gum commercial imperatives. Which is, a good thing. Take a look.

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Kenji Mizoguchi: Ugetsu Monogatari. 1953. (Japan)

Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari ( “Tales of the Moon Obscured by Rainclouds“) left me with a peculiar aftertaste. Appreciative yet not. What remained with me strongly though is the ‘atmospherics’ (for the lack of a better expression) of the cinematic effort. ‘Ugetsu’ continues to be a very fine example of mid century Japanese revisiting of traditional cultural material to prop up a morality tale of enduring charm. Look out for Kinuyo Tanaka’s Miyagi, Mitsuko Mito’s Ohama and Mizoguchi’s ‘feminism’.

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Dalkomhan Insaeng: Jee-woon Kim. (South Korea) 2005.

Dalkomhan Insaeng (translated ‘A Bittersweet Life’) showcases the inimitable Lee Byung-hun primarily, with the obligatory ‘crimson tide’ that is somewhat a part and parcel of most gangster films. Part over the top action choreography, part dripping melodrama – not exactly a ballet with bullets, but comes close to an attempt at it. I found it strangely unsatisfying. Watch out for the violence – mature audiences advised.

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Jan Švankmajer – Něco z Alenky aka “Something from Alice” (1988)

 

Švankmajer is probably one of the worlds best kept creative secrets, unfortunately. Hardly heard and known outside the initiated follower groups, Jan comes up with the most striking and thoughtful, or should I say stirring film narratives. Working in his native city of Prague throughout, his background in puppetry, sculpture and performance gives him a unique voice in animation-live action film making. Inimitable. See for yourself.

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Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel (The Story of the Weeping Camel) – 2003

With a backdrop of the cold, desolate Gobi Desert in Southern Mongolia, co-directors Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni weave a warm tale of the affirmative and healing spirit of love. A documentary texture is evident in this tale of a nomadic family of shepherds and their camels – quiet, reflective, observational, and one might add, meditative. Watch.

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