buddhism

“Snake Woman’s Curse” follows the plight of a Japanese family that is indebted to a feudal land owner and forced to work for him as slaves. After the father of the family dies, the land owner tears down the wife and daughter’s house, and forces them to work for him weaving clothing for the next ten years to pay off their debt. The mother is killed by the landowner while trying to rescue a snake from being killed and then the daughter kills herself after being raped repeatedly by the landowner’s son.

“Jigoku” is both an incredible and truly bizarre film. The director of the movie, Nobuo Nakagawa, made 97 films over the course of his career, which is an ungodly large number by American standards (only two other of his films are easily available in the States, i.e. "The Ghost Story of Yotsuya" and "Snake Woman’s Curse"). If you think of a current director like Quentin Tarantino maybe making one movie every four years, many Japanese directors at the time, were making four or more movies every single year.

Doomsday Book is a South Korean anthology film from directors and co-writers Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung. Through the course of three, forty-five minute segments we are pulled through the final moments leading to possible apocalyptic events. Literally translated to English the title reads “Report on the Destruction of Mankind”. Though the subject matter may call to mind a host of grimly violent, depressive, and stomach churning cannibalistic fare (see what I did there?) the segments are nicely balanced with a healthy dose of humor and hope.

Today it seems that notions of distinct national cinemas are becoming increasingly difficult to argue for. I do not mean to say that particular narratives and cultural contexts are disappearing nor are they ceasing to inform particular film cultures. Rather, I am thinking more along the lines of how certain cinematic techniques for conveying information to us are becoming less divergent across filmmaking communities. Over generalizing blanket statements? Absolutely.