‘Shower’ (‘Xizao’) China(Yang Zhang, 1999) The richly humorous and touching story of Shenzhen businessman, Da Ming who returns home to Beijing where his father runs the local bathhouse, only to be caught between two cultures — the decaying district of his childhood and the booming South where he now lives with a wife who has never met his family. When he realizes his father’s health is failing, he must take stock.
‘Shall we dansu?’ Japan(Masayuki Suo, 1998)Successful but unhappy accountant, Shohei Sugiyama spots a beautiful woman in a dance studio window. Despite his wife and child, he secretly signs up for dance lessons hoping to get closer to her. Slowly he begins to fall in love with the art form itself. A 2004 Hollywood remake starred Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere.
‘The Ballad of Narayama’ (‘Narayama bushiko’) Japan(Keisuke Kinoshita,1958) In a remote 19th century village, food is so scarce that when the elderly reach 70 years old they must climb frozen Mount Narayama to die so their families won’t have to feed them. Kinoshita’s film is profane and shocking at times. Throughout the film, images of couples having sex are interspersed with scenes of animals and insects mating. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984.
‘Infernal Affairs’ (‘Mou gaan dou’) Hong Kong/China(Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai, 2002) Hong Kong cop thriller following the parallel lives of an undercover officer who infiltrates a Triad gang and policeman who secretly reports to a ruthless gang boss. “Infernal Affairs” breaks the mould of much of contemporary Hong Kong cinema by steering clear of over-the-top-action in favor of a slow-burning build up of psychological tension. Engrossing.
‘Mandala’ South Korea(Kwon-Taek Im, 1981) In xem bong da the film that is considered to be his breakthrough as a cinematic artist, Im follows the lives and interactions of two Buddhist monks in Korea and takes a contemplative look at the nature of individualism, religious belief and enlightenment.