By Nazeeh Alghazawneh
At least once a month an elderly woman approaches me and tells me that I remind her of her son, either in the way that I look or because of my demeanor or simply because of my age. They’re very sweet and a little bit sad but most of all, full of nostalgia, which is always more sweet than sad until you think about it too much. They love to tell me about them. These mothers love to tell me about the love they have for their sons - an unconditional, boundless love that’s familiar and intimate at the same time but mostly uncomfortable. However, I nod my head and I listen because a heart is speaking to me and that’s the best thing about mothers: they always speak with their hearts.
It’s 1979 and Japanese New Wave director Shohei Imamura releases his first feature-length fiction film, Vengeance is Mine (available on DVD and Blu-ray), after a decade of making documentaries. For 140 minutes we’re introduced to Iwao Enokizu (played by Ken Ogata), a textbook sociopath with a penchant for murdering innocent people for reasons he couldn’t explain. Based on the real life serial killer Akira Nishiguchi, the film depicts the 78-day killing spree with faithful objectivity; Enokizu’s exploits aren’t glorified or celebrated, but they are fully realized. Imamura’s camera hangs low and aloof behind our protagonist, following him with that lecherous sense of dread and paranoia that a hunted murderer on the run probably feels. Ogata’s performance finesses a presence on the screen that is volatile, dripping with an anxiety that ultimately makes you feel uneasy, but dedicated to him nonetheless. The worst part is just how charming he is. It’s a concoction of Kit’s (Martin Sheen) aimless nonchalance from Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Bronson’s (Tom Hardy) gleeful desire for violence from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. Enokizu lacks any regard for anyone in his life, including himself, which appears to fuel his desire to kill; he seems to be angry that he’s even alive.
By Nazeeh Alghazawneh
I missed the opening date (Film Radar is my one source for all things cinematic happening in and around LA). Oh well, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival runs from April 28th till May 7th.
The festival began in 1983 as the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival back when Asian-American Cinema was first being revived after a long absence. Since then it has grown to include more films and the works of Asian Cinema and the global Asian diaspora.
Screening venues include West Hollywood's Directors Guild of America and the Laemmle’s Sunset 5, and the CGV Cinemas in Wilshire Center.
To find out about film schedules and parties, click here. Have a great Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and...
Taiwan’s official status is complicated. Some view it as a region of China, others as the sole legitimate government of the mainland. Still others believe it to be an island with a unique history stretching back thousands of years and with a distinct culture made up of Austronesian, Han, Japanese and other influences ...and then there are those that think it's the same thing as Thailand, or as the mysterious origin of all our stuff.
Taiwanese Film Under the Japanese
The first films shown in Taiwan were brought by the Japanese, as early as 1901. As with Japanese films, they relied on a narrator (rather than intertitles) by figures known in Taiwan as benzi. The first Taiwanese benzi was also a musician and composer, Wang Yung-feng.
In 1903, Japanese director 高松豐次郎 (Takamatsu Toyojiro) began exhibiting films from Europe and Japan and built eight theaters. In February 1907, he filmed 台灣實況の紹介 (Introducing Taiwan today), a documentary shot in over a hundred villages and meant to showcase Japan’s civilizing influence on Taiwan. The first Taiwanese feature film was Tanaka King's Da fo de tong kong (The eyes of Buddha), a 1922 film that starred Liu Xiyang, the country's first film actor.
On January 31st, The Guardian published an article titled “Why are there so few female filmmakers?” Less than a month later, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the director’s prize at the 62nd Directors' Guild of America Awards. Then, in March, she repeated that feat at the 82nd Oscars, where only three women (Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola) have previously even been nominated. Although membership of the Academy remains secret, it’s probably fair to assume that it’s disproportionatly male. What is known is that, when it was founded in 1927, there were 33 male members and three females (Mary Pickford, Jeanie MacPherson and Bess Meredyth) – or 8%.
Cathay Manor (where I've wanted to party since moving to Los Angeles