Shield of Straw

"Shield of Straw," the latest from Japanese filmmaking mad man Takashi Miike swaggered its way into the Cannes Competition lineup, but hardly had a fighting chance. The crime film isn't getting the easiest time at the Croisette, getting a chorus of boos after its press screening, with several negative reviews including our own. We described it as "tedious and overstuffed," with the movie essentially like a remake of "16 Blocks" but set across Japan. centering on two cops transporting a criminal who is being hunted by the public at large thanks to a bounty on his head. Below is the official synopsis and two clips from the movie and you can see if it intrigues you enough to check it out.

"Kill Kunihide Kiyomaru, and I will pay you 1 billion Yen." This is the ad placed in all the main newspapers in Japan. In placing the ad, the powerful multi-billionnaire Ninagawa puts an irresistible price on the head of the man he believes to be his granddaughter's killer. Realising he has become a target for millions of people, Kiyomaru turns himself in at the Fukuoka Police Station. Four officers are dispatched to bring Kiyomaru back to Tokyo, risking their own life, but now any number of assassins lie in wait on the 1.200km journey. The trip becomes a hellish chase, with potential killers at every turn. Will the police get Kiyomaru to Tokyo to face justice, or will justice of a different nature prevail?

A Touch of Sin,  Jia Zhang-ke.

Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke's "A Touch Of Sin" seems to be somewhat of a gear shift for the filmmaker, and it centers on violence that enters the lives of four disparate people in China. Our review said this "change-up" yielded "peculiar and bloody results" which has this writer intrigued. It's essentially about the corroding effects of capitalism in China and the encroaching violence that sometimes comes along with it. Synopsis and clip:

An angry miner revolts against the corruption of his village leaders. A migrant worker at home for the New Year discovers the infinite possibilities a firearm can offer. A pretty receptionist at a sauna is pushed to the limit when a rich client assaults her.  A young factory worker goes from job to job trying to improve his lot in life. Four people, four different provinces. A reflection on contemporary China: that of an economic giant slowly being eroded by violence