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October 28, 2009

Asian Streams


I intermittently watch movies that are streamed on my computer. I don't do it often, and I restrict myself to films with shorter running times, in the range of ninety minutes. Most of what I have seen has been through Netflix, either as a means of weeding out a film or two to allow room for other DVDs, or to see some films that would not be available otherwise. I was intrigued when Wise Kwai had a posting on his website about Asia Pacific Films. I have added a link to that site on the right. This is a website that specializes in streaming films from Asia. India and Iran are included with China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries, as well as including some films from filmmakers who are part of the Asian diaspora.

I have, at the time of this writing, seen two of the short films by two relatively well known filmmakers. Haze is part of Shinya Tsukamoto's exploration into the horror of the physical body. A man wakes in a cramped space, uncertain of where he is or how he got there. Unable to get on his feet, he can only move side to side on his back. The man passes out, and awakens in another physically compromised position, having his mouth forced open by a length of pipe. It is unknown whether the man is actually finding a means of escape or is simply getting himself deeper into a trap from which he cannot escape.


Bong Joon-ho's Influenze is purported to be edited from the closed circuit videos of a "Mr. Cho", and his criminal career over a span of three years. The video tapes were shot on the streets of Seoul, a men's restroom, a convenience store, and a couple of banks. The half hour film is as dark and funny as Bong's features, especially a scene where the would be bank robber is surprised to find himself feted by the bank he is about to rob, along with being photographed by the bank management.

Neither of the films I saw had English subtitles, but there was enough visual story telling to convey the filmmakers' intentions and idea. I found out later, from the very responsive team in charge of Asian Pacific Films, films are to shown with English subtitles. As I saw the two shorts as part of a promotional period ending this week that allows for free viewing, I have to assume that this time is used to verify that the website is working as intended, and to iron out any reported glitches. There are several films that have English as the primary language. In any case, Asia Pacific Films is welcomed as a means of seeing films that may not even play at film festivals, not to mention the most dedicated art house.

Posted by peter at October 28, 2009 09:20 AM