Com 329, Contemporary Film Study Guide, Chaudhuri textbook East Asian and Hong Kong Cinema




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COM 329, Contemporary Film

Study Guide, Chaudhuri textbook


East Asian and Hong Kong Cinema
Chapter 5: East Asian Cinema
►93-Chapter covers Chinese Mainland (PRC), Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand

►93-Although distinct, these territories/nations share many centuries-old traditions—Confucian ethics, based on filial obligations and loyalties, Buddhism, supernatural beliefs, classical theater including Peking Opera in China and Kabuki theater in Japan

►94-Cross-fertilization of forms due to ready access to Internet and other digital media

-Influence of “manga” aesthetic—alternates hyper-kinetic exaggerated violence with moments of contemplative stasis

►94-Also, a formalist influence of director Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story (entire film; click “CC”), 1953)

►95-And, the importance of melodrama

►95-Chinese Fifth Generation—the first to graduate from the Beijing Film Academy after it reopened in 1978 following the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976); also, the first Chinese directors to be exposed to European modernist cinema

►96-Best known Fifth Generation director—Zhang Yimou (SEE PPT) (Ju Dou, 1990; Raise the Red Lantern, 1991; To Live¸1994; Hero, 2002; House of Flying Daggers, 2004); although criticized for trying too hard to make his films palatable to non-Chinese audiences (as in his “Chinese blockbuster,” Hero), some scholars see Zhang as an “autoethnographer,” allowing the Chinese to gaze at themselves at the moment of their international emergence

►98-Chinese Sixth Generation—later film school graduates who have confounded the Chinese Film Bureau by rejecting conventional themes and styles; their films are considered “illegal”; they demonstrate a “disengagement from the official political discourse”; their films favor urban, contemporary stories, focusing on ordinary characters

►100-Taiwanese New Wave—Film production controlled by govt. until 1987; main filmmakers include Hou Hsiao-Hsien (City of Sadness, 1989; Puppetmaster, 1993), Edward Yang (Yi Yi: A One and a Two (trailer), 2000) [The best-known filmmaker to emerge from the Taiwanese New Wave is Ang Lee, who is actually best known for his work beyond Taiwan, although his “Father Knows Best” trilogy from Taiwan is noteworthy.] (SEE PPT)

►102-Japanese Anime—breakthrough films Astro Boy (1963) and Akira (entire film but dubbed) (1988); mature themes rarely found in Western animation; covers all moving image media (TV, direct-to-video, film, etc.)

►103-Anime style—borrowing from Western influences (really??)—e.g., round, “sensitive” eyes; a distinctly post-war, apocalyptic view

►104-Mecha—a sub-genre dealing with futuristic machines

►104-Hayao Miyazaki (and Studio Ghibli)—rich fantasy worlds, pre-industrial or futuristic settings, plucky (!!I think there’s much more to it!!) girls, and formidable matriarchs; motifs of flight, empowered labor. (SEE PPT)

►105-Japan’s New New Wave—led by Takeshi Kitano (Hana-Bi, 1997); also Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, 1997; Bright Future, 2003)

►107-Japanese visceral horror films from the 1990’s on—e.g., Hideo Nakata’s The Ring (1998) and Takashi Miike’s Audition (2000) [Also, Miike’s 13 Assassins (trailer) (2011)]

►108-Thai cinema—a revival since the late 1990s

►110-South Korean film—the Korean New Wave (1983-94) emerged during national democratic reforms and deregulation of film; current version is called “New Korean Cinema,” includes topics such political radicalism and sexual politics [eventually we get Old Boy (D: Park Chan-wook, 2003)]


Chapter 6: Hong Kong Cinema
►115-Importance of the history of Hong Kong, as port city, British colony, Japanese occupation during WWII, etc.

►116-Current status—although now part of China (PRC), treaty gives Hong Kong 50 years of relative socio-political autonomy (ending in 2046)

►117-Wuxia (pronounced “woo-sha”): tales of chivalrous warriors moved from legend to opera and literature to films

►117-[For more on wuxia, see also the documentary, Chop Socky: Cinema Hong Kong (2003), to be viewed in class; note the term “chop socky” is a play on “chop suey” and was invented by the media, not the filmmakers, like “Bollywood”]

►117-The Shaw Brothers Studio and Golden Harvest

►117-Bruce Lee—king of kung fu, with authentic martial arts skills

►118-Jackie Chan—influences include his education in Peking Opera performance style, American silent comics (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd) and Studio Era dancers (Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly); brought humor to the mix

►119-John Woo’s Hong Kong films—noted for hyperbolic action, extreme bloodletting, suspenseful gunpointing standoffs, sentimentality, heroes struggling to hold on to chivalric codes of honor, justice, loyalty, male friendship and brotherhood in a corrupt world. . . also the doppelganger relationship of two men on different sides of the law (e.g., The Killer (1989) (church shootout scene)); influences include Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Pierre Melville

►120-Hong Kong New Wave—including such directors as Tsui Hark and Wong Kar-Wai, introduced a ►120-New technical and visual sophistication; gender-bending also a theme

►122-Wong Kar-Wai—a mix of French New Wave inspiration, contemporary pop romantic, MTV aesthetic; time as a motif--“ungraspable moments constantly slip away”; intersection a key device (e.g., In the Mood for Love (entire film) (2000)—see also the Close Analysis on p. 129) [Also check out Chungking Express (trailer) (1994) (lengthy introduction by Quentin Tarantino) (1994)]



►124-Hong Kong into Hollywood—many personnel have been lured to Hollywood, e.g., directors John Woo, Tsui Hark, stars Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat; “Hollywood’s appropriation of Hong Kong talent and action genres has consisted of three types: the high-octane gunplay of John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat, the stunt-filled action-comedy of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, and the ‘wire fu’ of Tsui Hark, Yuen Wo-Ping and Jet Li.”

►125-Culminating in such multinational hits as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000; see also Close Analysis on p. 132) [Note that Ang Lee is of Taiwanese origin, and lives in the U.S., though—he’s not from Hong Kong.]


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