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Asian Cinema: a look at 20 classic films

Phillip Kay
 
Seven Samurai [DVD] [1954]
Seven Samurai [DVD] [1954]
"Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece incredibly manages to combine character study, social commentary and magnificent action. 160 minutes of subtitles has never been less painful."
Ikiru [DVD] [1952]
Ikiru [DVD] [1952]
"Kurosawa wanted to make a film to express what he thought was important in living. 'Ikiru' means living; here it means more exactly how to live. It's serious, moving and able to transform."
The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali/Aparajito/The World Of Apu [DVD]
The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali/Aparajito/The World Of Apu [DVD]
"Compassion, insight and storytelling blend to make these among the finest films ever made. Satyajit Ray created some of the most convincing relationships ever depicted on screen."
Charulata [DVD]
Charulata [DVD]
"The acting is superb in this 1964 film by Satyajit Ray: it is an intensely moving drama, one of Ray's best films and his favorite. This is not a good edition."
Criterion Collection: Tokyo Story [DVD] [1953] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: Tokyo Story [DVD] [1953] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Yasujiro Ozu made a penetrating account of the generation gap, the human condition, the weaknesses and strengths of human beings: and created one of the best films ever made."
The End of Summer [DVD] [1961]
The End of Summer [DVD] [1961]
"Ozu's second last film, made in 1961, is one of his most entertaining. He became a great dramatist in the course of his career, able to rival that great dramatist Shakespeare."
Last Life In The Universe [2003] [DVD]
Last Life In The Universe [2003] [DVD]
"Stylish, with superb photography by Chris Doyle, it's Romeo and Juliet for the cyberpunk age. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang manages to imitate everyone and yet be astonishingly fresh and original."
Salaam Bombay [DVD]
Salaam Bombay [DVD]
"Mira Nair's 1988 drama is rooted in documentary and uses street children, not professional actors; it's colorful, fast, moving and exhilarating."
Chungking Express [DVD] [1994] [1995]
Chungking Express [DVD] [1994] [1995]
"Wong Kar Wai's delirious and beautiful 1996 film telling twin stories of unrequited love features the camera of Chris Doyle and the acting and singing talents of Faye Wong. Funny, fast and fabulous."
2046 [2004] [DVD] [2005]
2046 [2004] [DVD] [2005]
"Doesn't everyone want a place where dreams can come true, where you can be the person you want to be, where you can have the love you want to have? Rarely has melancholy been so beautiful."
Criterion Collection: Late Spring [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: Late Spring [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Ozu's rigorous understatement makes this story of love and loss between father and daughter believable and heartbreakingly moving. As always, Ozu leaves it to us to fill in the bits he doesn't show."
Power of Kangwon Province [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Power of Kangwon Province [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Hong Sang-Soo's 1998 drama about a failed relationship tells the story first from one viewpoint, then from the viewpoint of the other person. One of the great films out of Asia in recent years."
Monsoon Wedding [DVD] [2002]
Monsoon Wedding [DVD] [2002]
"Mira Nair's film depicts the mosaic of relations that develop before and during the wedding, with participants coming from Texas and Australia and everywhere in between."
Eat Drink Man Woman [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Eat Drink Man Woman [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Ang Lee's film is a touching and mouth watering story of moving on, getting old and the rejuvenating power of love: if you like, about the food of love."
Wedding Banquet [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Wedding Banquet [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"An hilarious comedy about a gay couple, one of whom has to marry (a woman) to placate the parents who arrive from Taiwan prepared for a traditional wedding. Ang Lees celebrates all relationships."
Abhijan aka The Expedition [DVD] [1962]
Abhijan aka The Expedition [DVD] [1962]
"Satyajit Ray made this film in 1962 and it proved one of his most popular. With magnificent performances from Soumitra Chatterjee and Waheeda Rehman."
An Autumn Afternoon ( Sanma no aji )  ( The Widower ) [DVD] [1966]
An Autumn Afternoon ( Sanma no aji ) ( The Widower ) [DVD] [1966]
"Ozu's last film, made in 1962. It's both a poignant story of the loss we all suffer as we age, and also an extrememly funny and satirical look at self deception and selfishness."
Ran [DVD]
Ran [DVD]
"Kurosawa was in his seventies when he made Ran in 1985. It is about the chaos (ran) that follows the abdication of a feudal leader. The greatest action spectacle ever made."
6ixtynin9 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
6ixtynin9 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Pen-Ek Ratanaruang sprang to everyone's notice with this 1999 thriller, a comedy about the numbers 6 and 9. It's exciting, funny and profound."
Rashomon [1950] [DVD]
Rashomon [1950] [DVD]
"Rashomon is Kurosawa's breakthrough film, about a crime whose story is told four different ways. No version is exactly 'true'; no version can ever be."
City of Glass [All region] [import] [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [NTSC]
City of Glass [All region] [import] [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [NTSC]
"Mabel Cheung's 1998 film is about a 20 year long love affair between two people, married, but not to each other, discovered by the children of their marriages after a fatal car accident."
All About Lily Chou-Chou [DVD] [2002]
All About Lily Chou-Chou [DVD] [2002]
"Shunji Iwai's bleak account of internet chat as some kind of compensation for neglected, threatened schoolboy lives was developed by contributors to an internet chat room. Uncomfortable, perceptive."
Rouge [DVD] [1988] [US Import]
Rouge [DVD] [1988] [US Import]
"Stanley Kwan's 1988 ghost story about the forbidden love between a prostitute and a wealthy heir and their resolve to commit suicide in order to stay together is almost perfect."
Xiu Xiu: Sent Down Girl [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Xiu Xiu: Sent Down Girl [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Joan Chen made this film in China in 1988. It details a personal tragedy occasioned by an excess of the Cultural Revolution."
Lies [DVD] [1999]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Lies [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
"Lies is a 1999 film by Jang Sun-Woo that explores just how we conceal uncomfortable facts. The subject is sex, the style is documentary. But it's the way we prefer to watch others that Jang examines."