Every month A Place for Film will bring you a selection of films from our group of regular bloggers. Even though these films aren’t currently being screened at the IU Cinema, this series will reflect the varied programming that can be found at the Cinema, as well as demonstrate the eclectic tastes of the bloggers. Each contributor has picked one film that they saw this month that they couldn’t wait to share with others. Keep reading to find out what discoveries these cinephiles have made, as well as some of the old friends they’ve revisited.
Jesse Pasternack, contributor | Kung Fu Yoga (2017)
I don’t know a lot when it comes to Jackie Chan movies. I loved some of his American movies when I was a kid — Rush Hour, The Forbidden Kingdom, even The Tuxedo — but I’ve never seen any of his Chinese movies. I checked out his recent hit Kung Fu Yoga, which is also Chan’s highest grossing film in China. Chan plays Jack, acclaimed by several characters as “China’s best archaeologist.” He goes on an adventure to find a lost Indian treasure with the help of Ashmita (played by charming rising star Disha Patani), an Indian woman posing as an archaeologist who turns out to be a princess.
Kung Fu Yoga obviously takes inspiration from the Indiana Jones franchise — at one point Jack even says “I love Indiana Jones!” But its fantastic martial arts sequences as well as its cheerfully curious delight in other cultures make it a unique treat for American audiences. Plus it has one of the most joyful things I’ve seen in a movie all year: 64-year-old Jackie Chan energetically participating in a lavish Bollywood-style dance sequence.
Michaela Owens, editor | Dark Passage (1947)
Accused of killing his hated wife, a wrongly imprisoned man escapes San Quentin and unexpectedly finds help from a beautiful young artist. As the bodies (and crazy coincidences) pile up, and the police close in, will it be too late for the man to prove who the real killer is? I’ve always had a soft spot for this weird, convoluted noir, and the main reason is obvious: Bogie and Bacall. Together, they sell the improbable script and give Dark Passage its romantic atmosphere, which is saying a lot when you consider how the camera takes on Bogart’s point-of-view for the first half and then renders him heavily bandaged and speechless for a few more scenes as his character recovers from plastic surgery. While it is hardly a great film, it is entirely unique and Mr. and Mrs. Bogart are superb, with the camera all but swooning whenever Bacall appears on the screen. And rightly so!
Caleb Allison, contributor | Audition (1999)
The first half of Takashi Miike’s gut-wrenching Audition (1999) lulls you into forgetting its intentions. It proceeds at a languid but controlled pace, dropping cues more in line with a heavy-handed dramedy than a horror masterpiece. Audition initially demands your patience and attention so it can eventually, in shocking fashion, dismember (pun intended) your unguarded notions about its characters.
The film follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower of seven years who is finally cajoled by his son into finding another wife. To this end, Aoyama’s friend Yasuhisa (Jun Kunimura), a TV producer, deviously contrives a sham casting call for the leading actress in a movie they never intend to make, just so Aoyama can have the pick of the litter. Essentially, they use their power to seduce and control women, and in the era of the Me Too movement this scenario attracts a significant relevance.
Needless to say, Aoyama’s choice of the delicate, soft-spoken Asami (Eihi Shiina) is a big mistake — HUGE mistake! Miike’s third act unleashes a reality-blurring moral terror-athon that will change the way you treat other people — because you never know what they’ve been through or what they’re capable of. Asami’s reserved demeanor belies a tortured monster who gleefully relishes her blood-crazed revenge. It’s a film that garnered walkouts upon its initial release and even reports of hospitalization. If that’s not the gold standard for horror then I’m sure I don’t know what is.
Warning: contains disturbing images and violence.