Toshiki Satō’s ‘Empty Room’ (2001), Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Japanese Sex Films

Sachiko (Nakagawa Mao), a young woman frustrated with her life of dull routine, and seeking stimulation outside the deadening monotony of housework and catering to her needy husband, befriends Kobayashi (Yûji Tajiri), a neighbor whose wife has been carrying on an affair right under his very nose. Learning of her unfaithfulness, Sachiko’s husband (Takeshi Ito,… Read More

Torture Porn for the Discerning Moviegoer

There hasn’t been much discussion concerning ‘roman porno’ and ‘pink’ films emanating from Japan as of late. I’m curious to know myself exactly what readers think of these types of films – whether they’ve watched any, and what their thoughts are, especially in relation to mainstream and arthouse films. So this post is basically a… Read More

The King and the Clown (왕의 남자)

Synopsis Chosun dynasty, ca. 1504. Two itinerant street performers, Jang-sang and Gong-gil, having fled to Seoul, face an even more onerous fate when a bawdy farce lands them in prison to await certain death. An opportunity to redeem themselves arises, and a rather lackluster show succeeds nonetheless in pleasing the King and purchasing the troupe’s… Read More

The Jeonju Digital Project 2000-2008

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the Jeonju International Film Festival has released a handsomely packaged compilation of 27 shorts by filmmakers from Asia, Africa and Europe. For the past decade, JIFF has been commissioning films from three directors a year, awarding them each 50 million won (USD 38,000) to produce a digital film… Read More

The Customer is Always Right (2005)

Synopsis: An adaptation of a short story by Japanese mystery writer Kyotaro Nishimura, The Customer is Always Right is a comic thriller about a timid barber confronted by a stranger demanding blackmail money. At each visit by the blackmailer, the barber is required to double the ante. The attentions bestowed by the stranger on the… Read More

The Chaser (추격자)

With the countless stories yet to be committed to film, what is it that draws Korean filmmakers time and time again to the same worn-out formulas and conventions? This and sundry other cosmological reflections are what passed through my mind as I patiently endured the two-hour running time of Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser, the thriller… Read More

She Came From (그녀에게)

A contemplative, enigmatic arthouse drama with a bit of road movie tossed in, Kim Seong-ho’s ambitious sophomore feature film – about a young director confronting loss and abandonment – benefits from a great choice of locales, fine lensing, and the natural performance of a fresh newcomer, but lapses into excessive melodrama in the final reel.… Read More

Sha Po Lang

Sha Po Lang is hands-down the best HK action film I’ve ever seen. The movie easlily blows away Election, Breaking News, and One Nite in Mongkok. Yet reviewers are so caught up in debating the types of fighting, the number of opponents, the duration of the encounters, and arguing whether Donnie should or shouldn’t have… Read More

Red Angel (1966)

Masumura’s brilliant adaptation of a novel by Yoriyoshi Arima tells the story of a young nurse (Ayako Wakao) stationed at an army hospital in 1939, at the time of the Sino-Japanese war. Appearing at a time when Japanese studios are producing largely escapist fare; when independent distributors in the UK and in the US are… Read More