Celebrating Asian Film Artists

May is Asian Heritage Month or to be more exact, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To celebrate I decided to collect links to some of the Asian films, filmmakers and actors that I’ve written about. I’m particularly fond of Japanese cinema so my writing reflects this but I’ve also written about Hong Kong and Bollywood films as well. This is a master list … Continue reading Celebrating Asian Film Artists

A Decade of Fear

It’s taken me a year but I’ve finally managed to compile a list of my Favorite Films of the Decade: 2000-2009 so I thought I’d share it. My introduction echoes some earlier thoughts about fear and cinema that I shared during Halloween and wanted to expand upon. Besides my alphabetical list of Favorite Films of the Decade I also compiled lists of some Favorite Documentaries, … Continue reading A Decade of Fear

Modern Mondays: Last Life in the Universe (2003)

Is it Monday already? Lately the weeks seem to fly by but I managed to pull a little something together for Modern Monday. Forgive the brevity of my blog posts lately, but house hunting continues to consume most of my free time at the moment. With that in mind I figured I’d share a little something about a film that is much more interested in images than words.

Last Life in the Universe (aka Ruang rak noi nid mahasan, 2003) is a beautiful and thoughtful meditation on life, death, alienation and reconciliation written and directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang with breathtaking cinematography by the impeccable Christopher Doyle. It also features an wonderfully subtle performance by one of my favorite working actors, the brilliant Tadanobu Asano.

Last Life in the Universe forgoes familiar storytelling techniques and uses it’s own surreal language to examine familiar themes in an unconventional way. This macabre and melancholy movie is touching but never sappy and it always maintains its sense of humor. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s innovative film occasionally recalls the work of filmmakers such as Louis Bunuel and even Jean Cocteau but Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Thai background gives his film a unique perspective and tone.


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Modern Mondays: Bright Future (2003)

Regular readers may have noticed that my blog was impossible to access for 3 or 4 days. This was due to a major problem with the blog servers. They’re still ironing out the bugs so don’t be surprised if Cinebeats disappears again. Hopefully the problems will be worked out soon.

In the meantime, Modern Mondays has sort of snuck up on me. Since I’ve been unofficially counting down my favorite films of the last decade I thought I’d continue to do so with some shots from Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future (aka Akarui mirai; 2003). Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of my favorite Japanese directors at the moment and his chilling 1997 film Cure made my list of “31 films that give me the willies.” Bright Future is another one of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s best films and it features a stunning low-key performance by Tadanobu Asano.

I don’t have time to write anything substantial about the film but here’s a bit of text borrowed from the Bright Future DVD box:

“Friends Mamoru and Yuji are aimless young men stuck in dead-end jobs in a dreary factory in Tokyo. Mamoru, the more antisocial of the two, is obsessed with his pet project of acclimating a poisonous jellyfish to fresh water by gradually changing the water in its tank. One night, he inexplicably murders his boss’ family and is sentenced to death. Yuji, left to continue the jellyfish experiment, befriends Mamoru’s estranged father, and the two form a bond. But Yuji’s attachment to the jellyfish is even stronger, and problems arise when he accidentally releases the poisonous creature into the canals of Tokyo “

Of course the film is so much more than that simple plot outline, which is why Kurosawa’s films have garnered a lot of praise in recent years. Much has been written about Bright Future already and if you’d like to read more about the film I highly recommend visiting Michael Guillen’s blog The Evening Class. During last year’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa Blogathon Michael put together a great collection of links to some of the best writing about Bright Future that’s available online.

More images from a film filled with stunning imagery. . .

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Rebels Artists Superstars

Viggo Mortensen and Tadanobu Asano I’ve only had the opportunity to see a few of the films nominated for Academy Awards this year and besides David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, I haven’t been all that impressed with what I’ve seen. Since I don’t write about modern film that often I wasn’t going to mention the Oscars this year, but I will be watching the award show … Continue reading Rebels Artists Superstars