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Musings

Evan Osnos’s post today about the newly intensified suppression of dissent in China comes, sadly, as no surprise for viewers of Chinese movies. Even if there isn’t anything made in the past few weeks to show the news from the street, the attitude of the Chinese government toward those citizens who seek democratic representation and basic human rights is apparent from such recent documentaries as “Fengming,” “Petition,” and “I Wish I Knew,” as well as from dramatic feature films (such as the daring works of Ying Liang, including “The Other Half”).
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Like Hollywood in the 1970s, with its queasy procession of upside-down ships, crippled airplanes and towering infernos, postwar Japanese popular culture has had a taste for disaster. The sublimely cheesy, enormously popular “Godzilla” films launched in the 1950s depicted a dinosaur-like monster, spawned by underwater nuclear detonations, crashing through the streets of Tokyo.

WE THOUGHT THAT the issue had already been settled years ago, but at a recent media forum, an argument flared up yet again over the “golden ages” the Filipino movie industry has had over the decades. A resource person opined that there have been two golden ages or particularly productive periods in terms of quality movies. He cited the 1950s, which saw the production of award-winning films by Gerry de Leon and Lamberto Avellana, who were later hailed as our first two National Artists for Film. And the 1970s, paced by the prodigious output of two more future National Artists, …
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Peering at the post-tsunami devastation in Japan on miniature YouTube windows or video-streaming displays from Japanese news outlets provokes not only great empathy and concern, but an unmistakable feeling of déjà vu.
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Short films have come a long way since the moving images of stag cinema, exotic locales, fairground variety acts, propaganda and the marvels of everyday life. What has grown since the days of Edison’s Kinetoscope and the Lumière Cinématographe has developed out of an artist’s view of the world — like the Surrealist experiments of the twenties (‘Un Chien Andalou’) and the sixties avant-garde (Chris Marker).

There has been a lot of grumbling about the poor quality of Indonesian films over the past few weeks following the Motion Picture Association’s ban on exporting Hollywood films to Indonesian cinemas. The main complaint coming from cinema buffs is that once all of the glitzy Hollywood blockbusters go, all we’ll be left with is a glut of subpar local films. But are high-quality Indonesian films really that scarce?