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2007.12.30

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Steve

YELLA has U.S. distribution through the Cinema Guild, although I haven't seen a release date.

Only 3 Korean films?

Darren

I saw Sweeney Todd a few hours ago and am still trying to process it. What an interesting film that is. Had I watched it alone, I would've been weeping at the end.

I'm glad to see your mention of The Old Garden, too. It was the highlight of the San Francisco Film Fest for me. Such a strange mixture of melodrama and political history, with crazy moments of transgressive violence thrown in to upset the genre conventions.

I'm still trying to figure out how to cram 20 or 30 films into my top 10 this year.

Robert

"Across the Universe" is very much worth your time and was the only film I bothered to see twice this year... I liked it more than "Romance and Cigarettes"..which I loved.

Steve

Oh, dear...I was looking forward to both Romance and Universe and was deeply disappointed by both. I agree with you on at least half your list though (mine will be published next weekend). I had to do things a little differently. While I do have a number one film (you'll be pleased), I am listing approx 21 "need to see" movies, and some close calls.

Speaking of which...did you really find Smokin' Aces completely repellant? I find it to be a guilty pleasure that has at least two really surprising performances (Ryan Reynolds in the last act and Jeremy Piven throughout...and I don't care for Jeremy Piven in most cases).

Just curious. Thanks!

Boyd

What a remarkable front-loaded year you've had, what with all the Berlinale titles and Loktev's and Turturro's films also seen early...

Great to see Angel, Taxidermia and the Guerín getting some love, too!

Filmbrain

Steve -- I'll admit I didn't see as many Korean films as I did in past years, but most of what I saw was disappointing. These three were the rare exceptions.

Robert -- encouraging news about Across the Universe, thanks. Maybe I shouldn't be swayed by the haters.

Second Steve -- Yes, repellent is the perfect word for Smokin' Aces. So much so that it didn't even work as a guilty pleasure.

Boyd -- I've not found many people who care for Angel at all. I truly believe they didn't get it....

Michael Kerpan

Hard to know what counts as a 2007 film -- and I don't pay much attention to what's released and unreleased. ;~}

Mostly, these are new(-ish) films I first saw in 2007.

LEE Yoon-ki's Ad Lib Night
LEE Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine
Kaurismaki's Laitakaupungin valot / Lights in the Dusk
Bong's Gwoemul / The Host
ZHANG Yibai's Ye. Shanghai / Longest Night in Shanghai (best romantic comedy)
Jun Ichikawa's Ashita no watashi no Tsukurikata (best film about schoolgirls and cellphones)
Yamashita's Linda Linda Linda (not that _I_ consider this a 2007 film -- but I like to plug it at every opportunity).

Honorable mentions:

Im's Old Garden
To's Exiled
Hanawa's Hatsukoi / First Love
Senbon's Akai Kujira to Shiroi Hebi / Red Whale, White Snake
Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Sakebi / Retribution
Shiota's Dororo
Kawase's Mogari no mori / The Mourning Forest
Herzog's Rescue Dawn
Kaneko's Death Note: The Last Name
Yamada's Love and Honor
Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (best animated film)
Tominaga's Pavilion Salamandre
Hui's My Aunt's Postmodern Life
LEE Sang-il's Hula Girls
Nishikawa's Yureru / Sway
Ogigami's Kamome shokudo / Seagull Diner
Burton's Sweeney Todd

I guess Hong's Woman on the Beach is still orphaned -- so I'd like to remind people that it's a really really really good film.

Still to see -- Nobuhiro Yamashita's "Tennen kokekkô" (A Gentle Breeze in the Village)

mike

Sorta surprised that Cronenberg's Eastern Promises did not make it on to the top 10 list.

Steve

Michael -- Actually, WOMAN ON THE BEACH is opening in New York in early January, for a 2-week run at Film Forum. I think it's a better film than WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN, the only other Hong film to get a U.S. release, so hopefully it'll find an audience, although TALE OF CINEMA is my favorite.

I've heard rumors about Fox Searchlight picking up ANGEL. It sounds as though it could be marketed easily to the Landmark theaters audience, although I'm assuming it;'s really a pisstake on films like FINDING NEVERLAND and BECOMING JANE.

Brooke

Yay! Secret Sunshine. This is on my top ten of 2007; not going by films with distribution, but just on films that are 'released' in '07. And Do-Yeon Jeon gives one of the best performances of the year, too.

Michael Kerpan

Ranking Hong films is a pretty hopeless enterprise for me -- as I find everything to date excellent. Personal favorites -- Kangwon Province, Virgin Stripped Bare (my sentimental no. 1) and Woman on the Beach. But the others are wonderful too (anbd I really do like Tale of Cinema a whole lot).

nkw88

IMO, Woman is the Future of Man is what resembles Hong himself. Until I see Woman on the Beach, WFM is my favorite Hong film.

Noel Vera

Ach, no love for We Own the Night?

Interesting to see The Old Garden there--didn't think it would be screened in the US this year. Glad to see To's Exiled mentioned.

logboy

i really enjoyed catching up with other lee chang-dong film's i'd not seen, during 2007... peppermint candy, a stunning piece of work, perhaps sticks in my mind more than secret sunshine does, but the latter was certainly the most impressive korean film i saw this year : deceptively simple, charming, harrowing, and incredibly clever, if a little contrived or calculating.

i'm still inclined to say take your chances to catch films when you can : be it at festival or foreign dvd with subs. i'm still inclined to say : stick subs on everything, your film may not get picked up abroad if you can't generate an interest beyond professional reviewers, buyers and other such folk who attend fetivals across the globe.

HarryTuttle

Interesting list. I've only seen 3 in each... I like to see Syndromes and a Century, Day Night Day Night and Secret Sunshine in there. Although I didn't like Old Garden that much...
Woman on the Beach is still not distributed in France, apparently the price was way higher than any of his previous films.

Michael Kerpan

I fear that the subtitling of interesting new East Asian releases is getting spottier rather than better. This past year I've had to tackle unsubbed versions of a number of films I wanted to see. I'm used to doing this for Japanese films at this point, but there were a lot (too many) in this category. But this year I also had to cope with the unsubbed Chinese-Japanese-English (only a bit of the latter, alas) DVD of ZHANG Yibai's "Longest Night in Shanghai" and the Korean-Japanese "Virgin Snow" (essential, due to Aoi Miyazaki's starring role in this).

Bob Turnbull

> Yamashita's Linda Linda Linda (not that _I_ consider this a 2007 film -- but I like to plug it at every opportunity).

Me too...Terrific film. I love the long takes Yamashita uses in the scenes with the girls. It just feels like you get to spend so much more time with them.

I was lucky enough to see "A Gentle Breeze in the Village" at Toronto and it's quite wonderful. You couldn't pry the smile off my face for the entire run time of it.

I'm dying to see "In The City Of Sylvia" and "Taxidermia" (since "Hukkle" was so great). Might be catching "The Tracey Fragments" at Cinematheque Ontario as part of the Canadian Top 10 series.

Filmbrain

mike -- Eastern Promises was one of the great disappointments of 2007. If I hadn't known it was Cronenberg, I don't think I would have ever guessed.

Steve -- I hope your rumor is true. Angel is SO wonderful, with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.

Noel -- We Own the Night was certainly a contender. That was one of the great surprises of 2007. Joaquin was quite impressive in it, and the soundtrack was perfect.

Harry -- I'm curious, what was it about The Old Garden that you didn't like? Are you familiar with the events around the Kwanju massacre? I've often wondered if the film works without an understanding of the historical context. Whereas The President's Last Bang worked on many levels, I feel The Old Garden is extremely tied up in the after-effects of that tumultuous period.

Bob -- hope you can catch all three. Taxidermia isn't always pleasant to look at, but it's so damn inventive (as was Hukkle.

Michael Kerpan

Just saw "A Gentle Breeze in the Village" -- and second Bob Turnbull's praise. Between this and Jun Ichikawa's "How I Became Myself", this was an excellent year for gentle, intelligent films about Japanese school kids. ;~}

HarryTuttle

No I didn't know anything about the historical context of the film. But what annoyed me were the narrative choices. The flashback/flash forward leaps throughout the story (the bookend scene at the bus-stop under the rain keeps coming back from various angles for manipulative purpose and only adds artificial suspense), the depiction of the hideout atmosphere, the cliched scenes, the ending (low classicism)... developped an overt sentimentalization/idealization of historical events rather than give any political insights. I liked the reality feeling of the riot scenes, but then there is the cheesy scene when the art teacher goes to the place where the student fell of the roof, and her (or the guy) takes the position of the corpse.

Hukkle was masterful. I was a little disappointed by Taxidermia, which is quite far from his debut film. It's still visually creative (the circular camerawork around the bath tub is amazing!) but the fetishist taste is little special. It's "midnight movie" cult material, if you love Mr. Creosote skit (Monty Python's The Meaning of Life)

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