I just discovered East Asian cinema (sadly, this is not an exaggeration), and since then I’ve been rippin’ through movies – and my kitting has benefitted – like madwoman. I’m ashamed to say that prior to these past half-year, the only Chinese-language film I’d watched was 那些年，我們一起追的女孩 (You Are the Apple of my Eye). 超丟臉. Rough Translation: FUCKIN’ EMBARRASSING.
Gong Li, how have I not known you until now? Tony Leung, same. Leslie Cheung – ah! Fuck if I don’t feel embarrassingly late to the party, but better late than never. This is a bit of a “to-do” list of movies I need to watch, more than any kind of review or ranking of classic East Asian cinema. I’ve left out anything in the wuxia genre – I’ll get to that another time. I’ve starred the ones I’ve watched so far, and will probably end up writing an entire post just on Maggie Cheung’s qipao selections in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE 花樣年華.
What began it all was the absolutely beautiful FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE 霸王别姬. Stunning – how cliche to say, but it truly broke my heart – and introduced me to Gong Li and Leslie Cheung. Then came Wong Kar Wai’s HAPPY TOGETHER 春光乍洩, which cemented my undying love for Tony Leung, and where Leslie Cheung continues to make me feel inconsolably melancholy, and then Zhang Yimou’s RAISE THE RED LANTERN 大红灯笼高高挂 – which, Gong Li. And the cinematography.
Raise the Red Lantern – stunning stills
Then I discovered Zhang Yimou – Gong Li partnership, and going through the movies they collaborated on. Gong Li is a goddess, she absolutely inhabits each role.
Here’s what’s on my list for Chinese director Zhang Yimou:
In the Mood for Love – each still could be its own movie
For Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai:
And lastly I’m slowly working my way through the Taiwanese New Wave gang, with a focus on the films of Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang:
From Hou’s latest, The Assassin (a wuxia film)
From Hou Hsiao-Hsien – whose muse, Su Qi, is also divine:
Flowers in Shanghai
A lot of my snobby creative type friends are rolling their eyes right now being like – how did you just get to this – but fuck them! East Asian cinema can be intimidating when you first dive in. There’s multiple industries (China, Taiwan, HK) and a ton of legendary directors, and even more “must-see” films. I’d start off with a sampling of the top-ranked from all three areas: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE* 花樣年華 (Hong Kong), RAISE THE RED LANTERN 大红灯笼高 (China), and FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE 霸王别姬.