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This article was written By John Berra on 01 Jan 2013, and is filed under Features.

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About John Berra

John Berra is a lecturer in Film and Language Studies at Renmin University of China. He is the editor of the Directory of World Cinema: Japan (2010/12/15); co-editor of World Film Locations: Beijing (2012); and co-editor of World Film Locations: Shanghai (2014). His work has appeared in The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology (2011), Electric Shadows: A Century of Chinese Cinema (2014) and Ozu International: Essays on the Global Influences of a Japanese Auteur (2015).

My 2012 in Review: John

2012 was an excellent year for Asian cinema, with a number of stand-outs amid a packed selection of auteur projects, festival discoveries, and genre pictures. My favourite film of the past twelve months would have to be Shuichi Okita’s delightful comedy-drama The Woodsman and the Rain (Japan), in which a 60-year-old lumberjack (Koji Yakusho) assists the crew of a zombie movie that arrives in his remote mountain village to shoot a low-budget gore-fest. It’s a delicately paced and deeply rewarding film that celebrates the magic of moviemaking as a rookie director (Shun Oguri) endures various production difficulties, but pulls through with assistance from the local community. End of the Night (Japan) and Headshot (Thailand), a pair of neo-noirs concerning conflicted killers, also captured my attention. The former is the directorial debut of Kiyoshi Kurosawa protégé Daisuke Miyazaki, who delivers a deadpan thriller about a young assassin (Kuniaki Nakamura) who tries to leave the business. The latter blends stylised shoot-outs with Buddhist philosophy as director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang follows the misfortunes of an ex-cop (Nopachai Chaiyanam) whose impression of the world is literally turned upside down when he narrowly survives a bullet to the brain. Wang Xiaoshuai’s poignant 11 Flowers (China) is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama set during the Cultural Revolution in which a schoolboy tries to help the fugitive who is hiding in the area around his village, while Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s more abstract P-047 (Thailand) creates a metaphysical puzzle from the activities of two house-breakers.

In terms of events, it was a pleasure to introduce five screenings at the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ retrospective at Japan Society in New York, and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to present my work on Guo Xiaolu’s meta-film How is Your Fish Today (China/UK, 2006) at the Imagining Chinese Cinemas conference at Exeter University, UK.

Related posts:

Label Conscious: Japanese Cinema through the Third Window
Yasuharu Hasebe: Pink, Rape, Art.
The Week Hong Sangsoo Arrives

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