Japanese Films at Toronto

TKBowman@aol.com TKBowman
Fri Sep 3 11:11:35 EDT 1999

> I was one of the people disappointed by last year's "New Beat of Japan"
> lineup in Toronto which seemed to actually celebrate the established
> beat (Kurosawa, Iwai, Sakamoto, etc) and, with the odd exception,
> hugely disappointing debuts (and second films) from Hagiuda Koji,
> Saito Hisashi, Yamakawa Gen, etc.

I thought the lineup of last year's "New Beat of Japan" was pretty enjoyable. 
Living in the US I don't get access to the majority of Japanese films being 
made so over the years I've adopted a somewhat take-what-I-can-get approach. 
"After Life" was one of my favorite films of the festival last year and my 
biggest discovery was Tetsuya Nakashima, director of the excellent "Happy Go 
Lucky" and "Beautiful Sunday."  I also thoroughly enjoyed "Welcome Back Mr. 
McDonald" and to a lesser extent the too-pat "Ping Pong Bath Station."

Now that I look over the lineup again I do see a couple of disappointments 
though, including Sabu's "Unlucky Monkey" (not bad but lacking the spark of 
his previous two films) and Hiroshi Shimizu's "Ikinai" (derails somewhere 
along the storyline). I missed a fair amount of the films you mention.

> Most of this year's lineup wouldn't be amiss in Colin's Midnight Madness 
> slot.

Not too surprising considering that Noah Cowen, the programmer who seems to 
have taken the Asian, and especially Japanese programming reins, is the 
festival's old Mindnight Madness programmer. With the exception of "Gamera 3" 
and (stretching it) "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" the midnight madness program 
is free of other Asian programming.

> And some real dogs in Toronto's co-production lineup.  What were the
> other Asian films out of curiosity? 

Sorry for the off-topicness but I agree that it helps to contextulaize the 
Japanese selection.

Crazy English (Zhang Yuan)
Shower (Zhang Yang)
So Close to Paradise (Wang Xiaoshaui)

Hong Kong:
A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, D. Overbey tribute)
Bullets Over Summer (Wilson Yip)
Dreamtrips (Kal Ng, Canadian co-production)
Hiroshima 28 (Patrick Lung Kong, dialogues series)

Burlesk King (Mel Chionglo)
The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion (Lav Diaz)
Insiang (Lino Brocka, D. Overbey tribute)
Soft Hearts (Joel Lamangan, Eric Quizon)
Yesterday Children (Carlos Siguion-Reyna)

South Korea:
Girl's Night Out (Im Sang-soo)
Lies (Jang Sun-woo)

Darkness and Light (Chang Tso-chi)
Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, D. Overbey tribute)
March of Happiness (Lin Cheng-sheng)
The Personals (Chen Kuo-fo)

Todd Bowman
tkbowman at aol.com

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