Month: January 2016

Publishers ponder the ‘The Great Passage’ of life – Interview with Yûya Ishii

In a time when life is being shaped by swift-moving technology and culture-crashing modernity, it’s refreshing to take a couple of hours to ponder traditional ways and even delve into the question of what it means to be human. Filmmaker Yûya Ishii does just that in “The Great Passage,” Japan’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar, screening at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Palm Canyon Theatre. Set in the early 1990s, a publisher decides to print a comprehensive “living” dictionary dedicated to the most up-to-date usages of words. Upon assigning his venerable chief editor (Kaoru Kobayashi) this task, the publisher...

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“THE LIVES OF OTHERS” Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

“THE LIVES OF OTHERS” Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Story, Interview and Photography By Stephen Ashton The lounge of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel seemed a fitting setting to interview the young German director about his cautionary new film THE LIVES OF OTHERS. It had just been screened in AFI FEST, but the story is an old one: political paranoia and suppression of civil liberties. The walls of this hotel, if they had ears and voices, could tell similar tales from Hollywood’s darkest hour… the Blacklist years. I had the chance to discuss it with Florian Henckle von...

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Jim Jarmusch ~ Cinematic Samurai – An Interview

Jim Jarmusch ~ Cinematic Samurai Story and Interview By Stephen Ashton An “Eastern” theme, albeit transplanted to urban America, is the sub-text of Jim Jarmusch’s new film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Forest Whitaker is Ghost Dog, a loner and gun for hire who lives by the code of the Japanese Samurai, guided by the words of an ancient text, The Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, that Jarmusch shares with the audience. He lives above the world on a roof-top with his birds, carrier pigeons which serve as his means of communication to the outside world. Ghost Dog is a master hit man, unlike anything we’ve seen before. His best friends (except for his pigeons) are kids and a particularly jovial ice cream man, Raymond (Isaach de Bankol), who speaks only French. Ghost Dog speaks only English, but the two carry on conversations and comment to one another, usually with perfect understanding. Jarmusch’s sense of irony and humor win us over as we read the subtitles of Raymond’s off-handed remarks, frequently echoing Ghost Dog’s words or thoughts. In the spirit of the Samurai, Ghost Dog pledges his loyalty to Louie, a small-time mobster who saved his life many years before. But Louie is a member of a dysfunctional Mafia family in the throes of self destruction. Ghost Dog’s simple world of mastery, loyalty and ancient wisdom...

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Offside by Jafar Panahi Review

A Review by Stephen Ashton OFFSIDE Iran 88 minutes Director: Jafar Panahi Cast: Sima Mobarak Shahi, Safar Samandar, Shayeshta Irani, M. Kheyrabadi, Ida Sadeghi World Cup football (soccer) fever sweeps most of the globe and Iranians are passionate about the game as anyone. “Offside” focuses on a group of Tehran girls who are as fanatically enthusiastic as all other Iranians… with one exception: they are female.  As such they are not permitted to attend the battle between Iran and Bahrain for a slot in the once-every-four-year Finals. Not to be deterred they paint their faces and dress up like boys. But one by one they are stopped at the gates of the stadium and arrested, forced to experience the excitement from a holding pen just outside or on the radio while in the paddy wagon. Panahi is one of Iran’s most internationally celebrated directors who is best known for his films Crimson Gold (‘03), The Circle (Dayereh) (‘00), The Mirror (1998) and The White Balloon (1995). In this film he adds humor to the mix of his neo-realistic style, and his hand picked non-professional cast is up to the challenge. This absurdity is Panahi’s way of reproaching Iran’s patriarchal mores, taking a stand for a more liberal social order. Throughout the course of the film we see that not even the soldiers can explain the logic of this kind...

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