Pickpocket

Xiao Wu 小武

Jia Zhangke 1997

Jia Zhangke’s earliest (feature) film is a hard hitting character study of a petty thief trapped in criminality in a small mainland town. Rough and raw it paints an uncomfortable picture of modern Chinese life.

The House I Live In

A tough documentary which posits that the ‘war on drugs’ is only perpetuated because it’s politically (and finically) expedient even though those in power are aware their actions carry little social good.

Padre Padrone

Story of a small town shepherd boy cruelly ripped away from his education and childhood by an overbearing father who forces him to protect his flock from bandits. A harsh look at a primitive way of life and the relationship between a violent father and his helpless children. Haunting.

Nostalgia for the Light

Another moving documentary which links the astronomers gazing into space in the Chilean desert with the women still gazing down into the sands looking for the remains of loved ones disappeared during turbulent years of revolution and dictatorship. Profound and devastating but ultimately imbued with a sense of hope.

Street Mobster

現代やくざ:人斬り与太  Gendai Yakuza: Hitokiri Yota

Another Fukasaku and the last from Eureka’s first box set. I preferred this one to Yakuza Graveyard.

Dragon Head

Full review here. Much more impressive than you’d think post-apocalyptic adventure with Satoshi Tsumabuki and Takayuki Yamada.

Another Earth

Light sci-fi film that’s more about guilt, responsibility and introspection. Interesting but perhaps little too indie for its own good.

Zero Dark Thirty

Full review coming soon. This film is already attracting a lot of controversy because its politics or at least those some people have inferred from the film. I had a range of complex reactions and I’m not sure I’ve really sorted them out yet.

Flashpoint

Generic martial arts film with Donnie Yen. I actually thought it was much better than its reputation – yes, the plot is paper thin (even for a kung-fu movie) and the characters are poorly drawn and mostly just genre stereotypes but the action’s pretty good and it does what it claims to do fairly well. No masterpiece certainly but watchable.

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