Saturday, January 18, 2014


In Kenji Misumi's Sword Devil (1965), the lead protagonist, Hanpei ('Han' for spot; 'pei' for the lower social class he belongs to) becomes a practitioner of Lai (a draw-sword art; his teacher's only lesson: draw, kill, put back) midway through the film. Towards the end, a change in the lordship of the clan he belongs to means that his earlier performance of his duty towards the clan, which constituted murders of his fellow clansmen themselves, is now seen as a grand crime that must be avenged. He is tricked by various other members of the clan into coming alone to the flower-garden he has himself sowed; they propose his murder, he tells them it's on. In a grand sword-roulette that follows (and that predicts Kenji's later masterpieces with the Lone Wolf series), Hanpei takes them all one by one. This sort of a one-against-all within the same two-dimensional plane is an idea that must have inspired later manga, as well as, in no small measure, the famous side-scroller brawl in Oldboy (2003). Anyways, most of them get murdered by Hanpei's sword, but then he is wounded himself, and it is at this point that the brawl breaks down into a splendid formation within the frame: Hanpei places his sword back and bends over, his hands to his knees, to regain breath and just rest for a little bit. His opponents see this as an opportunity to gain on him, they move closer to him in scavenger-circles with much ill-intent. But as it goes with most Kenji Misumi fights, the protagonist will never accept a graceless, crowded brawl; instead, he prefers a series of dignified one-on-ones. And so the stage for a near-perfect demonstration of the sheer speed of his prowess is set. As he rests, one of his opponents makes a quick advance and Hanpei responds with great ferocity.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2013, Logbook

Following are the best films I saw in 2013(not of 2013), ones that were first-time watches. In alphabetical order:

Eligibility: Those not included in the PH Almanac 2012; features


Act of Killing, The (2013) / Joshua Oppenheimer
Blow Out (1982) / Brian De Palma
Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) / Jean Renoir
Casque D' Or (1953) / Jacques Becker
Cameraman, The (1928) / Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton
Chienne, La (1931) / Jean Renoir
Conjuring, The (2013) / James Wan
Flying Circus, The (1912) / Alfred Lind
Go Go Tales (2008) / Abel Ferrara
Gladiator, The (1986, TV) / Abel Ferrara
Klute (1971) / Alan J. Pakula
Kummatty (1978) / Aravindan
L. 627 (1991) / Bertrand Tavernier
Long Goodbye, The (1974) / Robert Altman
Man There Was, A (1917) / Victor Sjostrom
Marnie (1964) / Alfred Hitchcock
M. Hulot's Holiday (1953) / Jacques Tati
Ms. 45 (1981) / Abel Ferrara
Ordet (1955) / Carl Th. Dreyer
Passion of Joan of Arc, The (1928) / Carl Th. Dreyer
Tanner '88 (1988, TV) / Robert Altman
Throw of the Dice (1927) / Franz Osten
To Be or Not to Be (1941) / Ernst Lubitsch
Two Lovers (2008) / James Gray
Underworld, U.S.A (1953) / Samuel Fuller
Unspeakable Act, The (2013) / Dan Sallitt
Yakuza Papers, The (1973-74) / Kinji Fukasaku

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Wrestlers

The Lonely (1999) / Jean Paul Civeyrac

The Wrestlers (1905) / George Luks