Friday, March 6, 2009

10 Favorite Movies - 2008

1. ASHES OF TIME REDUX. 2008 Hong Kong. Wong Kar-wai. One of my all time favorite films re-edited with a new soundtrack. Of course I went to New York to see it. Of course it was wonderful. Of course I’ve already written about it. Here.

2. THE WAY WE ARE. 2008. Hong Kong. Ann Hui. An understated depiction of the lives of a middle- aged single mom, her well- behaved teenaged son and a "granny" who becomes part of their lives. A wonderfully beautiful film where not much seems to happen but so much does. I reviewed it here. DVD

3. THE TOE TACTIC. 2008. USA. Emily Hubley. The talented animator’s first feature film. A young woman deals with memories of her father, his death, a lost wallet and meeting new people in this delightfully quirky movie about life, loss and moving on. The movie combines live action and animation including an engaging animated card game played by dogs. Highly entertaining.

4. FINE, TOTALLY FINE. 2008. Japan. Yosuke Fujita. Another delightful quirky movie. Three young people who don't really fit in with Japanese society connect and interact with each other in a tender, funny and touching movie. Part of the movie is set in a used bookstore in suburban Tokyo. I have worked in a bookstore for several years so I was happy to see this Japanese bookstore also attracted off beat people.

5. BESIEGED CITY. 2008. Hong Kong. Lawrence Lau. Very entertaining downer of a movie. Set in the same housing estate as THE WAY WE ARE this movie is "the other side of the coin". A compelling story of a group of young people with depressingly bad lives. This movie stayed with me for several weeks. Powerful and bleak. DVD

6. MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS. 1985. USA. Paul Schrader. Wonderfully arty docudrama which combines black and white flash backs of Mishima’s life with highly stylized and colorful scenes from three of his novels. Having recently visited Kyoto I was captivated by the scenes from the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion". DVD - Criterion Edition.

7. STRAY DOG. 1949. Japan. Akira Kurosawa. A noir tale about a young policeman, Toshiro Mifune, who searches for his lost gun which is used in a robbery and murder. Mifune delves into the sweltering underbelly of post war Tokyo where in addition to the criminal mind he also must deal with his own darker side. Criterion Edition DVD.

8. L : CHANGE THE WORLD. 2008. Japan. Hideo Nakata. Third in the series featuring Kenichi Matsuyama as L, a too thin, sweets eating, black eyeliner wearing, reclusive teen detective who also slouches. L has 23 days to live. (He wrote his name in the Death Note in the previous movie.) In this movie L must protect a small boy who is the carrier of a lethal mega virus that the bad guys and eco fanatics are after. Fun.

9. FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION. 1996. Japan. Takashi Miike. Over the top yakuza film. A child watches his yakuza chief father kill his brother. Now in high school he seeks revenge with a gang of five year olds who shoot yakuza bosses and high school girls who shoot deadly arrows from their vaginas. Very funny and deadly. DVD

10. LADY SNOWBLOOD. 1973. Japan. Toshiya Fujita. Raised as an assassin a young woman seeks revenge for the murder of her parents whom she never met. A movie I’ve been meaning to watch for years and I wasn’t disappointed. Great revenge movie with lost of action and blood. A classic. DVD.

This past year I didn't attend as many film festivals as usual nor did I view many movies in my local area. However I watched several older movies which I hadn't gotten around to viewing and I liked several of these better than many of the 2008 movies I saw. With the exception of THE TOE TACTIC these movies can be purchased at yesasia. I would also recommend the Criterion Edition of CHUNGKING EXPRESS which came out recently.


YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

I hope that when I finally -- *sob* -- see it that I'll love "Ashes of Time Redux" as much as you and/or around as much as I love the original film.

Are these all films you've seen for the first time in 2008? Looks like it to me despite their original release dates, otherwise I'd imagine that "Chungking Express" would be on this list too.

sbk said...


I hope so too. I still can't believe you didn't get tickets to it.

Yes, the movies are all ones I saw for the first time in 2008. They're movies I'd read about over the years but never had watched.

Glenn, kenixfan said...

SBK: Glad to see a movie post on here and glad to see some great stuff on this list. Hope you watched the extras on the Criterion Mishima set -- they did a better job on that film than they did on the barebones Chungking Express for the same price.

YTSL: You didn't get tix to it? What!?! The online world is counting on your reaction! I think any one of us would gladly send you the US DVD that just came out, however, I know that you would prefer to see it on a big screen.

sbk said...

Hi Glenn,

I usually watch the extras on the Criterion films and agree the Mishima was much better than the extras on Chungking Express.

I've too have been waiting for YTSL's comments on Ashes of Time Redux! I am sorry for her and very frustrated that we'll have to wait even longer for her reaction. It seems weird to me to have seen a Hong Kong movie before she has. And it's even out here on DVD!