James joined Screen International in 2014. Originally from the UK but based in Hong Kong since 2001, he is a critic for the South China Morning Post and RTHK Radio 3, and also Asian editor for twitchfilm.com.
- The Assassin
Dir Hou Hsiao-hsien
Finally the much-heralded Taiwanese film-maker Hou Hsiao-hsien has made a film I can legitimately get behind. About as austere, glacial and devoid of action as a wuxia film could possibly get away with, The Assassin nevertheless tackles familiar themes of loyalty and revenge while dissecting the nature of a contract killer. Featuring a radiant central performance by Shu Qi (robbed at the Golden Horse Awards), the film also boasts breathtaking cinematography from Mark Lee Ping-bin and an intoxicating soundtrack from Lim Giong that incorporates centuries of Chinese music. The Assassin continues to linger in the mind many months after watching it, while other robust genre challengers, such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Sicario, have faded into the ether.
CONTACT Wild Bunch firstname.lastname@example.org
- Taxi Tehran
Dir Jafar Panahi
CONTACT Celluloid Dreams email@example.com
- 100 Yen Love
Dir Masaharu Take
CONTACT Toei Films www.toei.co.jp
Dir Ryoo Seung-wan
CONTACT CJ E&M Corporation en.cjenm.com/business/film/film.aspx
- Port Of Call
Dir Philip Yung
CONTACT Mei Ah Entertainment Group firstname.lastname@example.org
The Look Of Silence
Dir Joshua Oppenheimer
Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to The Act Of Killing (2012) kicks the hornet’s nest, revealing that the dangers of the 1965 Indonesian genocide are still very much present. A local optician, whose brother was murdered by the Komando Aksi, confronts his killers in a series of interviews, the likes of which have never felt more terrifying.
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Best UK Film
Dir Alex Garland
Alex Garland’s inevitable move into directing is as assured and provocative as his writing has always suggested. Three individuals — billionaire, employee and AI creation — are shut away in isolation to tackle big questions about sentience and existence. What unfolds is thoughtful, gripping and slyly humorous, while inevitably signalling humanity’s demise.
CONTACT Universal Pictures www.universalpictures.com
Dir Guan Hu
Takeshi Kitano has also examined geriatric gangsters reeling at the lack of respect afforded them by today’s youth, but Guan Hu’s darker, more serious take on the same scenario affords his veteran protagonists, as portrayed by Feng Xiaogang and Zhang Hanyu, a more stylish and honourable vehicle to vent their frustrations.
CONTACT IM Global firstname.lastname@example.org