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Asian Cinema 29.2 is now available

Intellect is pleased to announce that Asian Cinema 29.2 is now available! For more information about the issue, click here >> https://bit.ly/2P8NgES

Content

Editorial

Authors: Gary Bettinson And Tan See Kam 
Page Start: 171

Where East-meets-West meets Asianization: Aesthetics, regionality and Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon

Authors: Allison Craven 
Page Start: 175

As a term of description, ‘Asianization’ characterizes the impact of aesthetic and narrative influences from Asian cinemas on co-produced or American films since the late twentieth century. The ‘flexible citizenship’ of filmmakers and aesthetic traditions stemming from East Asian cinemas are seen to have transformed the global action cinema, in particular. Analyses of the orientalism of self/other relations inscribed in Asianized western films permeate reception, in spite of the problematic nature of the paradigms of Orient and orientalism. This article problematizes Asianization by referring to the Asian masquerades in Hollywood cinema in the pre-Second World War era, and the orientalism and ‘East meets West’ mythos that underpins a number of these films. The main case study, Lost Horizon, a blockbuster produced by Columbia Pictures in 1937 and directed by the Italian American filmmaker, Frank Capra, is a prototype imagining of ‘Asia’. It is a simulacra instilled through the trappings of costume, set, acted masquerade and elliptic narrative geographies, and facilitated by the racial proscriptions of the Motion Picture Association of America (Hays) Code of the era. The aesthetic discourse is marked, I argue, by duality whereby Asia is presented as both threat and paradise, a duality that resonates, if disparately, in the aesthetics of contemporary and twentieth-century Asianized films.

Jia Zhangke and Chinese painting

Authors: Peter Rist 
Page Start: 189

This essay begins by reflecting on earlier research and writing conducted by the author on the relationship between Song (Sung) Dynasty landscape paintings and Chinese films, including the Fifth Generation work of Chen Kaige. Rist argues that one can also find echoes of ancient Chinese landscape painting in the films of ‘Sixth Generation’ director Jia Zhangke, including Platform (2000), Still Life (2006) and Mountains May Depart (2015), while one can also find visual connections between Jia’s films and more contemporary art, including propaganda posters and the large mural painting of his friend, Liu Xiaodong. Rist asks the reader to also recognize that Jia was an art student before he studied film, when he became enamoured with ‘realism’. In recent years Jia has become extremely interested in ecological issues that can be aligned with his cinematic treatment of the landscape.

Action in tranquillity: Sketching martial ideation in The Grandmaster

Authors: Wayne Wong 
Page Start: 201

This article argues that the concept of wuyi 武意 (‘martial ideation’) forms the aesthetic core of kung fu cinema. Rather than focusing on the expressive amplification of emotion, martial ideation negotiates action and stasis through stabilization and eventually reaches a state of tranquillity. In The Grandmaster (Wong, 2013), such an ideational experience is sketched through the Buddhist notion of guan 觀 (‘perspicaciousness’). Perspicaciousness is embodied by three ways of ‘seeing’ in the mise-en-scène, including ‘listening bridge’ in martial arts performance, ‘looking back’ in narrative structure and ‘visioning’ in theme. In this light, Wong’s kung fu debut treats the southern hand-to-hand combat tradition not as a spectacle, but as an embodied knowledge that links kung fu practice with Chinese aesthetics and philosophy.

Girlhood, bride-kidnapping and the postsocialist moment in Mángshān (Blind Mountain) (Li, 2007) and Boz Salkyn (Pure Coolness) (Abdyjaparov, 2007)

Authors: Kate Taylor-Jones 
Page Start: 225

China and Kyrgyzstan are at the point of national development where the interplay between a national past and a globalized future is still hotly debated. Both nations are at the crux of the global questions related to the universal dilemmas posed by the collapse of the revolutionary socialist challenge to the hegemony of capitalism. This article will examine the interplay between gender and the vision of postsocialist modernity that is found in two films. Blind Mountain (Li, 2007) and Pure Coolness (Abdyjaparov, 2007) both present the respective stories of teenagers forced into marriage as part of a ‘tradition’ that is supported by the broader local community (as opposed to being the act of an individual male kidnapper). I will explore how the girl simultaneously represents a vision of a localized space while operating as an indicative sign of cultural difference. In short, she is the site of the transmission of ideals of gender and modernity between moments in national development. We, therefore, see the girl caught in the crosshair of modernity, sexuality, tradition, nostalgia and capitalism in communities that, as will be explored, are struggling to find a sense of self in the Asian postsocialist moment.

The poetics of (social) mise-en-scène and transcendence in Li Shaohong’s Stolen Life

Authors: Hing Tsang 
Page Start: 243

This article is a formal analysis of the poetics of Li Shaohong’s Stolen Life (2005). It analyses issues of mise-en-scène from the perspective of composition, camera movement and choreography of characters within the frame. Taking in equal measure from David Bordwell’s classic work on mise-en-scène and Adrian Martin’s recent espousal of social mise-en-scène, I shall be arguing that Li’s work presents rich social description but also provides an account of agency and transcendence. My analysis of Stolen Life acknowledges Li Shaohong’s deployment of familiar tropes from popular storytelling, while giving emphasis to the distinct variations that she provides throughout the film.

Real and slow: The poetics and politics of The Naked Island

Authors: Lauri Kitsnik 
Page Start: 261

A seminal film that presaged the 1960s boom of independent cinema in Japan, Shindō Kaneto’s The Naked Island (1960) also marked its director’s breakthrough to the international market. This article examines how the film’s depiction of primitive agrarian life, particularly the ‘authentic’ labouring bodies, relates to the notions of neorealism and ‘slow cinema’. Tracing its international influences, a comparison to Flaherty’s Man of Aran (1934) reveals how ‘poetical licence’ is an integral part of documentary film with ethnographical aspirations. Working outside the restrictive nature of the Japanese studio system, The Naked Island consolidated the director’s stripped-down and self-sufficient methods of independent filmmaking. After winning the Grand Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival, it also brought him a considerable following amidst the geopolitical tensions of the Cold War.

An interview with Hong Kong sound designer Kinson Tsang

Authors: Johnson Leow 
Page Start: 275

This is an interview with late veteran Hong Kong sound designer Kinson Tsang about his experiences working in the Hong Kong film industry. Tsang entered the industry in the mid-1990s and quickly made a name for himself with award-winning soundtracks for The Stormriders (1999) and Purple Storm (2000). Since then, he has become the most successful sound designer in Hong Kong (in terms of awards), and his credits include Infernal Affairs (2002), Shaolin Soccer (2002), SPL (2005), Initial D (2006), Ip Man (2008) and The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014). He sadly passed away from cancer at age 59 on 7 September 2017. The present interview dates from 15 December 2015 and discusses Tsang’s experiences in the industry and his views on the sound aesthetics of Hong Kong cinema in the past few decades.

Reviews

Authors: Nicholas Godfrey And  Jasmine Nadua Trice 
Page Start: 287

  • The 42nd Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong, 19 March–5 April 2018
  • The End of National Cinema: Filipino Film at the Turn of the Century, Patrick Campos (2016) 
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