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May 07, 2021
Celebrating API Cinema
Taipei Story Intro to Asian & Pacific Islander Film: The place to start is definitely The Criterion Collection's , World Cinema Project No. 2. Curated by Martin Scorsese, this collection focuses on pieces from Asia, including the seminal Insiang (Philippines) and Taipei Story (Taiwan). If you're looking for more "action" than "arthouse", Criterion also released a double feature of Police Story and Police Story 2 (Hong Kong). The films cemented Jackie Chan as one of the greatest stuntmen, choreographers, and action directors of all time (and possibly, actually insane). If you're looking for comedy, Taika Waititi's Jo Jo Rabbit (New Zealnd) is a scathing satire of Nazi Germany. And the elephant in the living room: Parasite (South Korea)! If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?

Presitge: Hiroshima (Japan): A harrowing look at the effects of the Little Boy nuclear attack on the city. A less bleak procedural, Park Chan-wook's JSA (Joint Security Area) (South Korea) follows the investigation of a multiple homicide in the DMZ. Modern master Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (Taiwan) similarly explores espionage and intrigued, but was overlooked at the time of its release by receiving a death knell label of NC-17 from the MPAA. For something more potentially more relatable, Bing Liu's documentary,Minding the Gap (USA) follows a trio of friends in a desolate Illinois town as they try to make it as skateboarders. The Yellow Handkerchief likewise shows the universality of the difficulties young people face.

Animation: Obviously, no review of Asian cinema would be complete without mentioning the massive contributions to animation from that region of the world. And while Hayao Miyazaki's excellence cannot be overstated, there's a ton more out there. There's serious work like Perfect Blue (Japan), which follows an idol singer as she loses her grip on reality. And there's lighter fare, such as the musical mermaid adventure Lu Over the Wall (Japan) and the 3D animation adaptation of the classic manga, Lupin III: The First (Japan). But your viewing should stop with anime! Big Fish and Begonia is a great intro to Chinese fantasy and Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is a beautifully quirky Korean sci-fi romp.

With greater recognition than ever, from Oscar-winning Chloe Zhao to the blockbuster-directing Jon M. Chu and performers as diverse as Akwafina to Steven Yeun to THE ROCK to Temuera Morrison (yes, Boba Fett is a Pacific Islander) to Hiroyuki Sanada to Michelle Yeoh to Jamie Chung, filmmakers of Asian & Pacific Island descent are making films at every level in every genre. That's not even getting into Kurosawa, Ozu, Kar-wai, revolutionary filmmakers without whom the artform would not be the same.


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