5 Major Asian Releases at Cannes ’15 | AsianCrush

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5 Major Asian Releases at Cannes ’15

John S. June 19, 2015 March 12th, 2017

Cannes. It’s the world’s most prestigious, glamorous film festival.

Throughout history, many of the finest filmmakers from around the world have had their films featured at the French festival. Such historically renowned Asian auteurs as Akira Kurosawa, Shohei Imamura, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul have won the fest’s grand prize, the Palme d’Or. With passions running high, though, and the harsh spotlight turned on the screen, Cannes can also be a place of damning backlash and criticism for new films.

The ever-controversial prizes have been handed out, the reviews have been written. And so, without further adieu, we present five major films by Asian filmmakers repped at May’s festival, and how audiences reacted.

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART [China]

One of the most widely respected Chinese filmmakers of the twenty-first century, Jia Zhangke has won acclaim worldwide for complex, sprawling narrative works like PLATFORM, THE WORLD, STILL LIFE, and 2013’s A TOUCH OF SIN.

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No stranger to Cannes, where three of his previous films have been selected for the main dance, Zhangke’s back in action with the highly anticipated MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART.

Like SIN, MOUNTAINS juggles several storylines. According to its Cannes description, the film “unfolds in three parts, set in the 1990s, the present day, and 2025.” Zhangke has shown a prominent sense of ambition and scope time and time again throughout his challenging, revered career.

And the Critics Said…

“This… melodramatic look at the past, present, and possible future of China is uneven, moving, and ultimately hard to pin down”James Lattimer, The House Next Door

“There are moments when Jia works to his strengths, which makes it all the more frustrating that he has attempted a form of storytelling so out of the range of his best talents”Barbara Scharres, Rogerebert.com

“Jia plots with the graceful simplicity of a late silent film, focused on objects and gestures”Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

THE ASSASSIN [Taiwan]

Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien returned to Cannes this year with his first narrative feature since 2008’s FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON. According to Justin Chang and Elsa Keslassy’s April 16 Cannes report for Variety, THE ASSASSIN is a “Tang Dynasty-era martial-arts epic.”

Hou, known for a particularly challenging, slow-paced narrative style and meticulous visual composition, ventured into period film for two of his most acclaimed films, THE PUPPETMASTER (which won the Jury Prize at Cannes back in ’93) and THE FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI.

Like Zhengke, Hou is a three-time competition vet at Cannes. Hou’s return was sure to ignite both the attuned interest of his passionate followers and the sleepy grumblings of his critics…

And the Critics Said…

“For its sheer beauty… and pure balletic poise, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s distinctive and slow-moving wuxia tale THE ASSASSIN demands attention” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“It is… groundbreaking cinema of astonishing ambition and assurance.”Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound

“Hou could have made a kinetic, thrilling action movie… He didn’t. I respect that, but I’d much rather look at stills from this film than watch it again.”Mike D’ Angelo, The Dissolve

OUR LITTLE SISTER [Japan]

Japanese filmmaker Horkazu Kore-eda is coming off a 2013 Jury Prize win at Cannes for his family drama LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. His films STILL WALKING, MABOROSI, NOBODY KNOWS, and AFTER LIFE, garnered widespread acclaim worldwide, praising Kore-eda’s abilities as a cinematic dramatist.

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In 2015, Kore-eda is returning to the French film festival with OUR LITTLE SISTER. Kore-eda looks to continue exploring the theme of family with the film, an adaptation of the manga Umimachi Diary. Diary follows the relationship between three sisters.

And the Critics Said…

“Sad without cynicism, hopeful but never fake, OUR LITTLE SISTER is a worthy addition to the canon”Stephen Mayne, Flickfeast

“The filmmaking is… a feat of embroidery slowly taking shape, and it inspires a corresponding faith in the willing viewer”Tim Robey, The Telegraph

JOURNEY TO THE SHORE [Japan]

Featured in this year’s Un Certain Regard section of Cannes, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s JOURNEY TO THE SHORE is, per Variety, the tale of “a woman whose husband returns three years after his disappearance.”

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Throughout his career, the Japanese filmmaker has worked on a diversity of subjects. There’s the frightening, including serial killer tale CURE and PULSE, voted by Slant Magazine the best horror film of the aughts. His 2000 film CHARISMA follows a community and a possibly dangerous tree. In 2008, Kurosawa took home the Un Certain Regard with TOKYO SONATA, a family drama.

And the Critics Said…

“Seldom has a matter of life and death been less involving than here”Jessia Kiang, Indiewire

“The strength… of JOURNEY derives from its simplicity, and the film is… best when performances and technical contributions underline that”Derek Elley, Film Business Asia

OFFICE [South Korea]

At Cannes’ Midnight Screenings, things get Pulpy. Leave the “prestige” for the main competition… at midnight, Cannes brings the “B.” Action maestro Johnnie To featured with BLIND DETECTIVE in 2013. Takashi Miike and Dario Argento were invited in ’12.

This year, Hong Won-Chan made his directing debut with OFFICE, described by Variety as a “serial-killer thriller.”

Chan cut his teeth writing the script for the 2008 B-flick THE CHASER. Did Hong add some late-night sizzle to Cannes?

And the Critics Said…

“An uneven but mostly solid addition to the crowded Korean thriller and horror fields”Pierce Conran, Twitch

“OFFICE is about as exciting as a business meeting”Laurent de Alberti, FilmLand Empire

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