Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunshiney Intimidation

Yesterday's mail brought two unexpected surprises: Criterion's latest Eclipse set (THE WARPED WORLD OF KOREYOSHI KURAHARA) and their forthcoming disc of Lee Chang-Dong's SECRET SUNSHINE. I know nothing of either filmmaker and plan on keeping it that way. Normally, I'd be doing as much pre-screening research/viewing as was possible. In this case, I'm too busy and am kind of looking forward to going into these films absolutely blind, without any expectation (aside from the implicit "Cinephile-Approved" baggage that accompanies anything coming from the Criterion label). It's rare that I watch a film without knowing anything about it or its makers, so this should be fun.

I have to cop to having an enormous blind spot where Asian cinema is concerned. Which, as I write it, is a ridiculous statement since the term "Asian cinema" is as broad as the continent itself. Growing up with only the public library and Blockbuster Video to mine for oddities, "Asian film" meant simply "Japanese film," which itself usually meant "Kurosawa film." The tech-centric film education I received did little to remedy this and I had to discover Ozu via interviews with Paul Schrader and Jim Jarmusch. I'm still extremely limited in my knowledge, not having seen much Kobayashi, Imamura, Oshima, Teshigahara, Naruse, etc. etc. and that's just covers the first tier Japanese directors. So I have a fair amount of jitters approaching these (the first film in the Kurahara set is appropriately named INTIMIDATION).

I'll just pretend I'm stumbling upon them on some late night cable channel. Afterward, I look forward to reading the notes (the Kurahara set is written up by "Asian-cinema critic" Chuck Stephens, whose work on Apichatapong Weerasethakul was a big help in approaching UNCLE BOONMEE, et al) and finding out a bit more about these filmmakers.

I'll be covering the films either for GreenCine or this space or both. Not sure yet. Expect a report no later than Tuesday the 23rd, when both releases hit the street.

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