OK, it is now February, and I am going to have to finally write this bloody post. However, in a break with tradition, I am going to make it a two-parter, starting with a little look over the past 12-13 months, with a second part actually listing the films. There will be a slight change in my normal rules… I will be a little more flexible about what 2012 means – I used to insist on the film being released in that year in its host country, but now I might use a UK or International date. Also, there are going to be a couple that I have not yet got around to reviewing.
So on the whole, 2012 simply was not a champagne year for Asian Cinema, at least that which I got around to watching. Not only that, but I really struggled with writing this blog on occasion, with various real world events seriously making me want to consider giving up the whole shebang. I’m in a better place now, so hopefully I will be able to be somewhat more regular in the coming year.
I will start with a look at the films I was looking forward to last year, beginning as I ended I guess. Although this was sorely tinged with disappointment:
- Park Chan-wook’s “Stoker” – Failed to arrive.
- Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmasters” – has finally arrived, not for me to see sadly. Though I am told it really is quite a disappointment.
- Edmund Pang’s “Love in the Buff” – This one ended up being merely OK. Somehow it all seemed a little watered down. Perfectly serviceable, but not the usual Pang magic. He would redeem himself later.
- Derek Yee’s “The Great Magician” – A crushing disappointment. Mildly diverting, but far from the sum of its parts.
- Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer” – Failed to arrive.
- Kim Jee-woon’s “The Last Stand” – Well I saw this, and whilst it was an OK action film, it really gave me no sense of Kim at all. There is some fun to be had, but it simply does not linger long in the memory.
I actually thought I had been rather light on reviews this year, but trawling back, it appears I have been much busier on here than I thought. Which seems even crazier when I know there is a large number of films I simply did not get around to reviewing at all (and not always because of a lack of quality, after all, two are going to make the list). And when looking through, I managed to have 17 movies on the big shortlist itself!
I have also been branching out a bit this year, doing a review for a magazine, as well as joining the community over on Easternkicks.com. The plan is to maybe get a review done for those guys once a month, but maybe not the normal films that I look at on here. Of course I must not forget the shared reviews I have done with big friend of the blog Miyuki both here and on over at her Internet home. They have been a lot of fun, and we have plans to keep trying to make these a semi-regular occurrence. And whilst I have had to tighten up on comment entering on here due to spammers, I really do encourage you all to try and let me know how I am doing, if not via a comment, but by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to build up a little community on here, and I know many people do return to see what’s being written. Maybe you have the desire to write a little review yourself? I would be happy to host it, so don’t be shy. One thing I haven’t done is any articles, but I have a an idea that I hope will come to fruition over the next few weeks.
And talking of you, my ever welcome guests, what is it that has bought YOU here? Well looking at the statistics, it seems that there are 5 things which are magnets:
1) Azumi. Actually people looking for Azumi 3. Which simply doesn’t exist. But I so wish it does. Funny that my thirst post in this incarnation is still amongst the most popular. Though the popularity is probably more a quirk in the way I used to number the films.
2) Love Actually … Sucks! Ironically a movie I wasn’t particularly taken by, but it seems a lot of you are really interested in it. I’m afraid I really don’t know if the penises on display were prosthetic though. Sorry!
3) Late Autumn. Turns out I was not the only person waiting for this film to finally arrive. And it also seems some of you are not clear about the ending. I’m not going to spoil it, but I’m pretty certain it isn’t a happy one.
4) Kidnapping Miyabi (Menculik Miyabi). This one really surprises me, as it was fluff at best, but maybe Maria Ozawa is simply far more popular than I had given her credit for.
5) Tai Chi Hero. A more recent development, but I don’t think I have had so many hits on a page for a long long time. Again interesting as I was rather disappointed by it, and also that my review of its partner film is over on Eastern Kicks.
I’ll finish off now by giving out my first two awards, one of which will come as no surprise, the other something that I have not covered at all this year, Dramas.
The Drama of the Year was an easy one. Now I watch a lot of Dramas, mostly Korean and Japanese, and to be perfectly honest there are plenty I give up on after only a handful of episodes. I also do not tend to try too hard to watch them ‘live’, but for this one, after seeing the trailer, and catching the first 3 episodes I was hooked, lined and sinkered. “History of the Salaryman” was an utter treat from teaser on YouTube to the final scene. Lee Beom-soo was just the most magnificent lead character, and i’ll admit this was where i fell in love with Jung Ryeo-won. Basically a retelling of some ancient Chinese History, but set in the modern Korean workspace. It was consistently funny, but still able to jerk a tear or three. It wasn’t faultless: one pair of characters where somewhat written out (as the big bad changed part way through); one particular heinous act seemed to go unpunished; and getting a couple of episodes actually added to it whilst it was still being filmed made the conclusion a little stretched. But hand on heart, there is not a thing I have enjoyed this year more than these 22 episodes.
The Worst Movie of the Year was equally easy. Whilst it did have some competition from “Million Dollar Crocodile” (which was risible, showed Barbie Hsu was cute BUT annoying), at least that film pretty much knew it wasn’t going to be taken seriously. On the other hand, Sadako 3D managed to take a series of films that got me to this place, and with the assistance of the original writer manage to produce a film that seemed to have no logic, no connection to previous incarnations, and be an utter whore to some terrible 3D effects. It had no understanding of the lead character, and even decided to get inspiration for another film entirely. If anyone thought pointless 3D remakes of classic horror movies was simply a Western Curse, they need to think again.
Next up… I’ll be doing that Top 10. Sooner than you might think