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Emperor Trailer


Following the catastrophic events of World War II which led to the Japanese forces' surrender, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers General Douglas MacArthur charged his Japan expert protégé Bonner Fellers with the task of making the hugely significant decision of whether or not Japanese emperor Hirohito should be tried and executed as a war criminal for the part he played on behalf of his government over the war period. However, his choices are deeply affected by his love for exchange student Aya who he met in the States years previously and subsequently searches for when he reaches Japan. With her beside him, he finds himself developing the insight and wisdom enough to give him the strength to make the major verdict.

This heart-wrenching war film is based on the true events following the surrender of Japan in 1945. Directed by Peter Webber ('Girl with a Pearl Earring', 'Hannibal Rising') and written by Vera Blasi ('Tortilla Soup', 'Woman on Top') and David Klass ('Kiss the Girls', 'Desperate Measures'), 'Emperor' is the mind-blowing story of justice and morality and the role that love serves in making choices about each. It debuted at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and will be release in the US on March 8th 2013.

Director: Peter Webber

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Sukiyaki Western Django Review


Good
Takeshi Miike's spaghetti western mash-up, Sukiyaki Western Django, is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. This Ramen on the Range is Miike's first American feature, perversely cast with Japanese actors in 99 percent of the roles and instructed to speak in contorted English, rendering most of the dialogue indecipherable; it takes some getting used to to hear line readings like "It's dah end da da road for youi." The other 1 percent of the cast is the rabid American film geek director Quentin Tarantino, clearly having the time of his life like a ticket to Disneyland. Tarantino is Ringo, a lonesome roads gunslinger, who sets the stage for the tale and speaks in an equally indecipherable western dialect that becomes even more obscure during a long spiel concerning Gion Shoja temple bells, with Tarantino inexplicably lapsing into a thick, flannel-tongued Toshiro Mifune accent halfway through his oration.

Ringo engages in some mighty fancy gunplay concerning a rattlesnake and an egg in front of a blatantly false campfire set that looks like it came out of the old kids' show Riders in the Sky. He then commences to tell the tale of a pale rider (Hideaki Ito) with a garish gun who appears through a howling Kurosawa haze in a western town lorded over by two rival clans -- the red-garbed Heike clan, led by the psychotic Kiyomori (Koicho Sato), who insists that everyone call him Henry, and the white-garbed Gengi clan, led by the cool, sleek, walking-manga illustration Yoshitsune (Yusuke Iseya). Before this cryptic Man With No Name can utter, "You going to come at me or whistle Dixie?" he commences to play one clan against the other, and soon bullets, bodies, and blood fly through the air like an in-progress Jackson Pollock painting. As the schizophrenic town sheriff sings at one point as the cast reloads, "I die. You die. She dies. He dies. We all die."

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Memoirs of a Geisha Review


Grim
The only thing which director Rob Marshall doesn't throw into Memoirs of a Geisha is a torch song in which the heroines can lament their sad fates; it might have been an improvement if he had. Adapted from Arthur Golden's 1997 bestselling novel, the film is about Sayuri, a young girl in pre-war Japan sold into servitude at a Kyoto okiya, or geisha house. Although interesting as drama, the book was beloved for its depiction of this long-gone culture's intricate rituals, and the grueling training and subterfuge which the geisha indulged in to succeed. Since much of that material is better suited for the page than the screen, the film blows up the book's more melodramatic moments (and there were plenty of them) into a cliched soap opera of thwarted love, backstabbing and really pretty outfits.

Marshall gives the film, especially its early scenes where Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang) gets schooled in the hard-knock ways of the okiya, a goodly amount of sound and fury that has more than a hint of Spielberg to it (the original director of the project, he stayed on as producer). Having one of the world's most photogenic period settings, Marshall makes all that he can of it, and the results are astonishing. This is a film of fluttering cherry blossoms and dark alleyways lit by paper lanterns, where all houses have their own deftly-maintained garden and everyone is dressed to the nines. The problem is that no amount of amped-up drama or pretty window-dressing can make up for the fact that the phenomenally talented cast has been stuck with hackneyed dialogue to deliver in English - a first language for none of them.

Continue reading: Memoirs of a Geisha Review

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