Programs Guide

New Programs: Shunji Iwai’s Filmography & 2017 Oscars Best Pictures

With one full project out of the way, this time I’m focusing on two semi-projects that run simultaneously before commit myself to the next big project (which will be Cannes 2017). These two new projects are the following:

Shunji Iwai Filmography

                                        (this poster wasn’t made by me. Thanks to William Prigent on Vimeo                                                                                           (

I was aiming to explore another temporary Japanese director before picking Iwai instead. He’s one of the indie director who is your definition of a one-man company: he writes, directs, edits and scores in all of his films. Many people argue that if he only does scores he’d have a prolific career himself. Unlike many other temporary Japanese directors who become a gather substantial recognition in the West like Hirokazu Kore’eda, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, many of them cult favorites like Shinya Tsukamoto, Sion Sono; he remains largely unexplored in the West. Personally, I’ve only seen 1 of his film: a rotoscope The Case of Hana & Alice and absolutely enjoy it. If a lesser-entry that is also a prequel already that good, I’m pumped to check out his body of works.

For this Director’s Corner section, I count full-length live action works as the directors’ official outputs, unless otherwise noted. With Shunji Iwai, I won’t count his first few TV movies, save for Firework (which gained him some awards and inspired an 2017 Shaft-produced anime, so I’m in). Finally, I’ll keep a journal-like format (2 reviews per post) so that I can write more about he progresses through his films, and some trivia at the time of making his movies. His works include:

Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (1993)  (TV Drama) – 45min

Love Letter (1995) – 117min

Picnic (1996) – 68min

Swallowtail Butterfly (1996) – 148min

April Story (1998) – 67min

All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) – 146min

Hana and Alice (2004) – 135min

The Kon Ichikawa Story (2006) (Documentary) – 83min

Vampire (2011) (English debut) – 120min

The Murder Case of Hana and Alice (2015) (anime) – 100min

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) – 179min

2017 Oscar Best Pictures

I’m always mixed when it comes to the Oscar. On one hand, when you become serious to movies and awards, Oscar is essential. It also has a rich history and they do honor some of the best films of the era. On the other hand, the internet level of obsession to Oscar (to the point every movie comes out will automatically transfer its chance with the Oscar. That’s way too much), plus its head-scratching decisions constantly remind me how imperfect it is. As I stand, Oscar shouldn’t matter as the ULTIMATE award body, but it matters as the point of reference.

Thus come to this program where I review all these Best Picture Nominees and see for myself which titles deserved to be there. I’ve only seen half of the nominees last year (just to say how out of touch I was with the current cinema). In fact, since the Best Picture expanded back in 2009, I’ve never seen all the nominees of a single year. So this would serve as a good chance to give more Oscar-bait titles like War Horses, The Blind Side or Extremely Loud a fairer chance. I will review them in alphabetical order, followed by a giant post to conclude the year’s and ranking those films. The nominees for 2017 are:

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)

Darkest Hour (Joe Wright)

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)

Get Out (Jordan Peele)

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Post (Steven Spielberg)

The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)

As for myself, I manage to go to the cinema every weekend now, so you can expect some review of current film on the weekday. In the beginning of October I’ll go away for 2 weeks so there’s likely no new material in that period. Depending on how busy I am I might use that time to review some backlog movies/anime shows (imagine that you now have a backlog films needed to review). Duh! Anyways, I’ll try my best to not take another 4 months to finish the projects. That’s a promise! In the meantime, enjoy that beautiful soundtrack from one of the best singer-songwriter in America. Cheers.

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