by Christopher Bourne

by Christopher Bourne Retrospective

Grass | Hong Sang-soo

October 26, 2018
Grass-Kim-Min-Hee

Hong Sang-soo packs a surprising amount of variety, complexity, and beguiling mystery into the 66-minute runtime of Grass. The film provides a brief but dense window of observation — and “observation” is the operative word here, since the central character, Areum (played by Hong’s now-frequent leading woman Kim Min-hee), eavesdrops on conversations while typing on her laptop, and comments on the action in the film’s voiceover. Areum claims to be “not a writer, just writing,” …

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by Christopher Bourne Retrospective

Shinjuku Swan | Sion Sono

August 29, 2016
Shinjuku-Swan

Shinjuku Swan, an adaptation of Ken Wakui’s manga series, finds director Sion Sono at his slickest, glossiest, and most impersonal. Set in the bustling titular section of Tokyo, specifically the Kabukicho red-light district, the film follows the travails of the bleached blond-maned Tatsuhiko (Go Ayano), who’s seen at the outset wandering Shinjuku with a rumbling stomach, a few coins in his pocket, and a massive chip on his shoulder. When Tatsuhiko gets in a fight with a bunch of guys…

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by Christopher Bourne Retrospective

I Am Sion Sono! | Sion Sono

August 3, 2016
I Am Sion Sono (1985)

Sion Sono fans, this is where it all begins. The wild, irreverent, iconoclastic, in-your-face style familiar to those who’ve seen even a few of the films the man made his name with in the 2000s (Suicide Club, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Love Exposure), it was all there from the start. Here you get it in its purest, rawest form, shot on 8mm in 1985, when Sono was all of 22 years old, unencumbered by plots, commercial constraints, or professional actors. It’s as close as…

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