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  • The Siamese Twins

    The Siamese Twins

    ★★★½

    I never asked for your crutch/now don’t ask for mine

  • K-On! The Movie

    K-On! The Movie

    ★★★★

    Basically just a long couple of episodes of the show, but since the show is one of the greatest things ever, that’s perfectly swell. 

    Was a bit unsure when I started this series. Coming off of Sound! Euphonium, this is much sillier, much more cute cartoony. But the relentless goofiness of it, its willingness to be absolutely about nothing, won me over pretty quickly. Euphonium is probably better, but K-On is probably more rewatchable.

  • A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella

    A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella

    ★★★★½

    Wrote about this at The Notebook.

    One thing I couldn't quite figure out how to cover there was that while the Chinese Odyssey films are the end-point of the mo le tau genre, they're also one of two endings for the high-speed comic wuxia subgenre of the early 90s (the Swordsmans and Fong Sai Yuks and Kung Fu Cult Masters). The other is Tsui Hark's The Blade, also released in 1995. The one emphasizes the genre's bright and goofy side, the other its worlds of unrelenting violence.

  • A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora's Box

    A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora's Box

    ★★★★

    "Anticipating the slightly more serious turn Chow would take later in his career, A Chinese Odyssey would have plenty of nonsense slapstick, but it would also take the themes of the novel, the reformation of the Monkey King, bringing him into line with Buddhist orthodoxy, completely seriously. It’s an unexpectedly profound blend of wacky comedy and existential melancholy. It’s the acme of the mo lei tau genre, the high point at which its absurdity becomes elevated to something like a philosophy of life."

    Wrote about this at The Notebook.

  • Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown

    Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown

    ★★★★½

    Remains the third best Peanuts movie, and a sad reminder of the direction in which the theatrical movie could have gone instead of into generic kids movie plotting and 3D ugliness.

  • The Eagle Shooting Heroes

    The Eagle Shooting Heroes

    ★★★½

    There's just something so lovable, so pure about the Hong Kong tradition of making the sexiest, coolest people in the world act like complete idiots for a hundred minutes.

  • Princess Fragrance

    Princess Fragrance

    ★★★★½

    The second part of Ann Hui’s adaptation of Louis Cha’s Romance of Book and Sword. Released just a month later in 1987, these are really two halves of a single movie. If they ever get restored to something like presentable condition (a bad VCD version is all they’ve got), they should be smushed back together, like A Touch of Zen has been. And man does this film need the deluxe restoration. It might be a masterpiece. 

    Anyway, this half focuses…

  • The Romance of Book and Sword

    The Romance of Book and Sword

    ★★★★

    Looks like it might be a bona fide King Hu-influenced wuxia from the mid-80s, except with the spirituality replaced by political conspiracy (with the Red Flower Society learning that the Qing emperor is actually Han and trying to enlist him to overthrow his own Empire).

    I can't really say for sure though because as far as I can tell it only exists in a crummy VCD rip.

  • An Autumn's Tale

    An Autumn's Tale

    ★★★★

    One of the more underrated New York movies. A film that really believes in the city as a place where people come from all over the world to invent themselves. Also part of a cycle of films about leaving Hong Kong that sprouted in the wake of the Joint Declaration. A fairy tale about leaving home and finding all the best things about it somewhere else, without the looming threat of authoritarian takeover. Chow Yun-fat and Cherie Chung make such…

  • The Story of Woo Viet

    The Story of Woo Viet

    ★★★★

    Oh hey here's Ann Hui making a Heroic Bloodshed film with Chow Yun-fat five years before A Better Tomorrow. Crew are packed with luminaries of the New Wave and Second Wave: Stanley Kwan (assistant director, sharing the title card with Hui), Tony Au (art direction), Ching Siu-tung (stunts), and Teddy Robin (producer) assisting behind the scenes, Chow, Cherie Chung, Cora Miao and Lo Lieh on-screen.

    Chow plays a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee fleeing the fall of Saigon. He washes up in Hong…

  • Liz and the Blue Bird

    Liz and the Blue Bird

    ★★★★★

    Rewatched this after watching the two seasons of Sound! Euphonium, the TV series of which it is a kind of sequel. It isn't necessary of course, and I don't know that the added context makes the movie better, largely because I don't know that the movie can really be improved upon: it's pretty much perfect the way it is. But it is interesting knowing who all the side characters are. The movie now feels like a small part of a…

  • The Spooky Bunch

    The Spooky Bunch

    ★★★½

    As far as I could tell, a fun, goofy ghost comedy with Josephine Siao being silly and Kenny Bee not doing much while they and a theatrical troupe are harassed by a gang of deceased soldiers and a dead actress named Cat Shit. The version I watched is a dub of a really bad VHS. Here’s hoping it gets restored sometime soon like Ann Hui’s The Secret and The Story of Woo Viet have been. 

    Of the eleven films Kenny…