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  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

    The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 2013

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 27 Mar, 2015

    After Ghibli found international success with Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, his co-founder Isao Takahata has been largely sidelined - reduced to a mere footnote and normally only discussed when considering his 1988 masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies. This is mostly explained by the fact that during the period where Ghibli have been basking in their greatest successes Takahata's output has been minimal, with his last film being 1999's My Neighbours the Yamadas.

    Over a decade later, he has returned with…

  • Maidan

    Maidan 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 01 Mar, 2015

    Sergei Loznitsa's Maidan is an extraordinary 'historical' document of the revolution against then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his government. While more conventional documentaries might choose to follow one or more individuals and their personal experiences, Loznitsa eschews this approach in favour of letting the viewer experience it themselves. His camera is largely static, with long takes allowing us to take in the sea of figures and faces and to more fully absorb the scene that unfolds.

    The power of…

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  • A Brighter Summer Day

    A Brighter Summer Day 1991

    ★★★★★ Watched 01 Apr, 2012

    A magnificent achievement, A Brighter Summer Day is a near four-hour novelistic film set in 1960s Taiwan. Xiao Si'r (played by Chen Chang in his debut role) is a member of a local gang in turmoil due to the disappearance of its leader, Bunny - whose girlfriend Si'r gets involved with. As a study of tensions within gangs, it rivals Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather but - based on a real, tragic event - it's a wholly different film that…

  • Yearning

    Yearning 1964

    ★★★★★ Watched 16 Feb, 2013 2

    This melodrama, courtesy of Mikio Naruse, is a deeply moving and visually impressive work that follows a young man (Yuzo Kayama) in love with his sister-in-law (a stunning, career-best performance from Hideko Takamine), who was widowed during the war. With a final shot that is as perfect as is to be found in the medium of cinema, Yearning is one of several masterpieces that can be found in the oeuvre of the still-unappreciated Japanese master.