And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Wood and Water

Not a lot “happens” in this character study film, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. It’s the story of Anke (played by Anke Bak, the director’s mother), a German woman of a certain age who has just retired and is looking forward to a trip to the beach with all her children. But her son doesn’t make it home for the gathering. He lives in Hong Kong and the pro-democracy protests there interfere with his flight. (Or so he says.) So she decides to go there to see him. Only he’s away, and so she spends her time alone wandering the city and coming to terms with her life.

Review: Drive My Car

Adapted from a short story by Haruki Murikami, one of my favorite authors, Drive My Car is a haunting drama about love and grief and reckoning. It centers on two main characters. Actor turned theater director Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is two years removed from his wife’s sudden death and still grappling with the meaning of their relationship when he comes to Hiroshima to direct Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” for a theater festival. The organizers insist for legal reasons that he use their driver for the duration of his stay. She’s a taciturn young woman named Misaki (Toko Miura) who ended up in Hiroshima after her own personal tragedy. And as she shuttles him back and forth to the theater in his beautiful red Saab 900, they slowly bond over the unresolved sadness in their lives. And I say slowly because the movie clocks in at just about three hours, though it doesn’t feel long at all.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 15

What a group of films I have for you this week! There’s an end of the world love story set in Los Angeles and a twisted sister rivalry in old Hollywood. I’ve included the quintessential DC political drama and an Italian Fascist-era classic. And there are 3 musicals: one set in Nazi-era Berlin, another about a doomed love in France, and the last, a Chinese love triangle on a film set.

 

The films are: Miracle Mile ,What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, All the President’s Men, Cabaret, The Conformist, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Perhaps Love.

Arty Chick’s Oscar Ballot

Update: I began my Oscar viewing thinking the show was fun and creative, but it went totally off the rails about half way through and ended in the most abrupt and confusing way possible, mostly because I think they assumed that Chadwick Boseman was going to win and they’d go out on an emotional note, and then he didn’t. Please, please next year, make it a show worth watching.  As for my ballot, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to get a lot of them right, and I was entirely correct! But I did get those surprises I asked for.  I only got 10/23, and I stand by my choices. I’ve annotate my original with the winners *bolded*.  ?. 

Between the two of us , we saw most of the films that are nominated this year and reviewed most of them here at Chickflix, so if you’re filling out a ballot (here’s one you can download), you can use this to read up on all the ones you might have missed, though we did miss a few. But it’s also my ballot, with my picks *bolded*. I’ll say right up front, I know a lot of my choices are non-mainstream and I won’t win any pools with this ballot, but I’m okay with that!

So happy Oscars! Here’s hoping the producers pull off a creative and entertaining pandemic-limited show. And I am hoping for a few surprises in the voting, too.

 

Tune in Sunday April 25, 2021 at 8pmET/5pPT on ABC.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 4

This week’s picks run the gamut from a classic Hollywood epic to one of my favorite action flicks. I’ve also chosen a bunch of foreign fare. Something from Russia, from Hong Kong, from France, from Iran, and from Spain. There’s romance, betrayal, chases through the Paris Metro, and desert battles.

And what they all have in common is great storytelling. Great characters. Compelling stories.

 

 

 

Check out: Lawrence of ArabiaBurnt By the SunLeon: The ProfessionalThe Skin I Live InIn the Mood For Love; Diva; A Separation

 

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 2

Week two of listing favorite films that may not be on your radar because they’re not new. A few of these were made before I was born, and they’re still resonant. This week’s seven run the gamut of genres and styles.

I give you a Chinese Kung-Fu comedy, a French rom-com, a Frank Capra classic, a Hong Kong gangster vs cop drama, a brilliant gothic horror tale, a women’s lib girl power comedy, and the funniest rom-com ever made.

There’s something for everyone here.

 

Review: Lucky Grandma

This dark comedy set mainly in New York’s Chinatown begins with curmudgeonly chain-smoker Grandma (Tsai Chin – Joy Luck Club, Casino Royale) visiting LeiLei the Fortune Teller (Wai Ching Ho – Hustlers). Her reading predicts a most auspicious day. So Grandma immediately empties her bank account and heads to a nearby casino. But it’s on the ride home to New York where things takes a truly fortuitous turn when a bag full of money literally drops in her lap, kicking the film into action, as Grandma becomes the target of one of Chinatown’s dangerous triads who want it back. Fortunately for Grandma, she’s a no-nonsense widow who knows just what to do. She hires a bodyguard from the rival gang. What could possibly go wrong?

Review: The Farewell

In this bittersweet dramedy based on a real story from the writer/director’s own family, Billi (Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians) a struggling New York writer discovers that her Grandma (Zhou Shuzhen) back in China has cancer. It’s a huge blow since they’re really close, but Grandma doesn’t know and the family wants it to stay that way. But just so they can all see her before she dies, they concoct a wedding where everyone can get together with her back in Changchun. The Farewell boasts a fabulous ensemble cast in a story that while set squarely within its Chinese culture and location feels universal in its truths about family relationships and the lengths we’ll go to for someone we love.

Review: One Child Nation

Nanfu Wang has made a couple of my favorite documentaries of the past few years. Hooligan Sparrow followed a Chinese women’s rights activist’s journey and put both the subject and the filmmaker in danger. Her follow-up film I Am Another You took place in the US as she lived for a while with a charming young homeless man. In both films she was as much a part of the story as her subjects. In her newest film, which she co-directed with Jialing (Lynn) Zhang, she returns to China with her new baby to peel back the curtain on the country’s horrifying one child policy and the toll the decades long social experiment took on the women of China. From 1979 through 2015 the Chinese government decreed that women could only have one child, and to that end millions of women were forced to have abortions, be sterilized, or abandon their children to human traffickers. It’s a harrowing film as you hear the stories from many of the perpetrators who still think the policy made sense.

Quickie Review: Ramen Shop (Ramen Teh)

Following in the tradition of a spate of recent foodie flicks, Ramen Shop wraps a slight story in a culinary journey and has you drooling and wishing the film would be over quickly so you can get out to the nearest ramen shop yourself. This time around the story centers on a young Japanese chef Masato (Takumi Saitoh) whose father dies at the start of the film, sending him on a quest to find his culinary roots in Singapore. Dad met Mom there and there are a lot of unanswered questions about her and her family. She died when he was a boy, and his discovery of her diary among his father’s possessions, sends him in search of his uncle and the story of his mother’s estrangement from his grandmother. But all along the way there is a lot of cooking and eating mouth-watering food.