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Female stars of the East Asian screen

Four films from East Asia will be screened at Cambridge’s Department of East Asian Studies during May:

Holding up more than half of Heaven: Female stars of the East Asian screen

We will be screening four films from East Asia – Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea — during the lead up to the exam period. All of them feature outstanding performances from a variety of great actresses: Cheng Pei-pei, Tanaka Kinuyo and Yamada Isuzu,Yoon Jeong-hee and Kim Hye-ja.

These are not part of the regular syllabus for the course Cinema East. Just some films that might interest many people. Everyone is invited!

Venue: Basement room L1

Time: Thursday afternoons from 14.00

May 5 Come Drink With Me, King Hu, 1966

One of the most popular and influential Hong Kong films of the last third of the 20th century. A much simpler combination of history and martial arts than later films by King Hu such as A Touch of Zen, Come Drink With Me also pioneered the figure of the female martial artist and made a star of Cheng Pei-pei as ‘Golden Swallow’. Lush sets characteristic of the Shaw Brothers Studio at their peak, plus a sense of humour inherited by Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow.

May 12 Flowing, Naruse Mikio, 1956

Set against postwar Japanese social changes which included the banning of prostitution, Naruse’s film was both elegiac, even melodramatic but also cold-eyed in its assessment of one tradition maybe worth losing. It features a line-up of the greatest female stars of the last golden age of Japanese cinema: Tanaka Kinuyo, Takamine Hideko, Yamada Isuzu, among others.

May 19 Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010

Director Lee Chang-dong won the prize for best scenario at the last Cannes Film Festival (2010) for this slow-burner of a crime non-thriller. Starring Yoon Jeong-hee who appeared in more than 230 Korean films between 1967 and 1994: perfect for this role of an elderly beauty, whose grip on reality is gradually slipping, yet whose soul craves for the transcendence denied to her aged body. One of the finest East Asian films of recent years

May 26 Mother, Bong Joon-ho, 2009

Kim Hye-ja is famous for playing mothers on Korean TV, and it must have been interesting for her to play such a double-edged role. Taking the melodramatic archetype of the Mother to extremes, Kim plays a mother whose symbiosis with her son is nearly complete, yet Bong and Kim manage to keep the character from being monstrous – just about.

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