Jon Spayde

  • Woman of the Rainy Moon
    A totally brilliant Japanese silent from the 1930s, a love story set in the rapidly developing Tokyo suburbs--you see the raw signs advertising lots in what are now overbuilt parts of the city. The story, as I recall it, is about a self-sacrificing lady of easy virtue--a classic Japanese theme.
  • There Was a Father (1942) .. Ozu Yasujiro
    A wartime "national-policy" family drama ostensibly inculcating filial piety by showing a loving father-son relationship. In an unforgettable moment, the "good" son (Sano Shuji) of the young but makeup-aged Ryu Chishu finally gets a moment to relax and be himself after his father leaves the room. At that instant of release, Father has a heart attack.
  • Too Late Blues (1961) .. John Cassavetes
    John Cassavetes' second film as director. Syncopated off-rhythms in the dialogue and storytelling go well with the jazz-scene theme.
  • Sex in Sex
    A spectacularly lavish and strange Hong Kong sex comedy I saw in a Chinese theater in San Francisco in the early 80s. Horny businessman with failing powers sends studly underling in search of a sure-fire aphrodisiac. Delightful, perverse Bollywood-like set pieces set in real locations and filmed in a quasi-documentary style. My favorite is the scene where a chorus finds discarded condoms in a field in Kowloon, blows them up like balloons, and bats them around while all sing and all dance. The movies are often set in Japan (or a Chinese pop filmmaker's idea of Japan) because the Japanese are assumed to be the randiest folks on earth. It's a mystery to me why this sex-comedy genre hasn't been rediscovered by Asian-film mavens in the West; I find these wonderful libidinous extravaganzas five times more interesting than the martial-arts movies, cop sagas, and art-house snoozes that established Sinophone film in our awareness a couple of decades ago.
  • Pecker (1998) .. John Waters
    John Waters' best film by a mile. It succeeds precisely because it holds the trash-cinema sensibility in check and exhibits heart and soul. Lily Taylor as photographer Pecker's art dealer and potential lover: "I want a real boyfriend, not person!"
  • Blissfully Yours (2002) .. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
    Probably the most remarkable sense of time I have ever experienced in a film. A loosely structured story about a Burmese immigrant in Thailand in which "real time" unspools slowly and in a way that seems neither "realistic" nor "cinematic." Things take forever, and you are mesmerized.
  • Joan of Arc of Mongolia (1989) .. Ulrike Ottinger
    The first half is a strange, rather allegorical-seeming railway journey, very staged and presentational, exploring the sick soul of Europe; then female Mongol bandits attack and the whole thing turns into a widescreen, half-ethnographical grassland-and-yurt epic...all-female. Ottinger puts these two things together without even attempting to fuse them into a unity. You get to work out the logic of the whole experience. A failure? Not if you think contemporary art should be a challenge to the little grey cells.
  • The Iceman Cometh (1973) .. John Frankenheimer
    Lee Marvin is riveting as Hickey in the terrific 1973 American Film Theater version of the O'Neill play.
  • One Week (1920) .. Edward F. Cline & Buster Keaton
    The amazing early Buster Keaton comedy in which he and his bride (Sybil Seely) put together a prefab house all wrong (her old beau has switched the numbers on the parts) and then try to live in the Cubist construction.

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