Five great asian films under the radar #1
As opposed to Kurosawa and Mizoguchi, Naruse is a lesser-known name internationally. Yet he can fairly be considered one of Japan's greatest directors. As in most of his films, Naruse here also explores the lower middle class. Yearning is about the conflict of a widow who falls in love with the younger brother of her husband who passed away in the war. In this melodramatic love story, Naruse takes traditions, social norms and conventions to absurdity in his characteristic and non-sentimental way.
The leading figure of the Taiwanese new wave of the 80s is best known for his films Yi Yi and A Brighter Summer Day. In common with his other films, Terrorizers portrays the unrest and change in Taipei at that time, but also its influence on individual lives. The turmoil of the big city spirals into claustrophobic dimensions, existential fears pour into hearts like gas in a balloon, making it a matter of time before it implodes. The city becomes a foreign object and all that remains are the consequences—the estrangement and the loss of purpose—which Yang closely examines and depicts in his non-judgemental approach.
Jiang Wen is one of Asia's most exceptional filmmakers, despite having directed only six films, whereby his vision of cinema is expressed best in The Sun Also Rises. Its interwoven non-linear narrative is most comparable to Andrei Tarkovski's The Mirror in its dreamlike quality.
Kim Ki-duk has been one of the most controversial directors of the recent past. His works are full of extremes, provocations and don't shy away from the depiction of explicit, agonisingly watchable violence. His most elegant film, and the one that holds these attributes the least, is his 2004 release 3-Iron (also known as Bin-Jip). In the midst of a violent relationship, a woman finds shelter in a mysterious stranger who blurs both her and our perception of reality.
Not so much as the plot, the film is carried by the world it creates, as well as its characters therein, both representing a lostness from society. Values like family, friendship and meaning are redefined in the midst of crime and chaos. A truly beautiful film that uncovers the profound and sincere beauty in the abysses.