From Film

Reviews of movies, tv series, short films, and trailers

Japanese Architecture Influence & Origin

A friend recently recommended me a visual treat of a documentary, Kochuu, that looks at the roots of modern Japanese architecture and it’s influence on buildings throughout Scandinavia. It’s title translates as “in the jar”, referring to the Japanese tradition of constructing small, enclosed physical spaces, which create the impression of a separate universe. Read more

This is Shanghai

Shanghai’s skyline got to show off it’s better side in last years Skyfall, but photographer Rob Whitworth and urban explorer JT Singh, have gone one better with this spectacular portrayal of the 21st century giant.

“In 1980 Shanghai had no skyscrapers. It now has at least 4,000 — more than twice as many as New York. ‘This is Shanghai’ explores the diversities and eccentricities of the metropolis that is Shanghai going beyond the famous skyline.”

For all its pollution and censorship I miss China.

Cloud Atlas Retrospective


Death. Life. Birth. Future. Present. Past. Love. Hope. Courage.

An 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future. Read more

Chinese Megacities Timelapse

Living inside one of China’s behemoth cities is a humbling experience, such is the enormity of their size and the human endeavours taking place there. The timelapse video above by zweizwei brings back fond memories of my time spent in mainland China and captures everyday life in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai extremely well – sunshine and smog included. Despite the endless sea of people streaming in from all over the country for the opportunities they provide, these cities can be strangely impersonal and isolating…

If you’ve not already seem it, 007’s latest outing in Skyfall features some spectacular shots of Shanghai at night also.

From Japan with Food

Online food documentary series The Perennial Plate spent two weeks travelling around Japan to create a stomach rumbling short film – From Japan with Love (and Dashi) – looking at the country and its tantalising food. If that leaves you feeling hungry for more you’ll also want to check out Jiro Dreams of Sushi which tells the story of a 85-year-old Japanese sushi chef who has been on a relentless quest his whole life to perfect his craft. I’ve already seen it twice and love seeing how the notions of developing good taste and keeping things simple can be applied in all areas of life.

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Hyundai Hyper-Matrix & Vision Hall

What do you do if you’re in charge of a multinational chaebol and have a few million dollars left in your budget to spare? You create awesomely cool kinetic artwork. Hyundai recently commissioned two stunning installations in South Korea from different art and design studios. Despite being corporate advertising both are stunning. Read more

Japan in a Day

I’m really looking forward to seeing Japan in a Day which opened last week at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Following last years YouTube film Life in a Day, Ridley Scott has worked with Fuji Television to create a documentary that provides a poignant snapshot of Japan from the perspective of its people on March 11, 2012 – one year after the earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis that shook the country.

Reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and The Telegraph.

Hong Kong in 1966

We’ve looked at footage of Hong Kong in the 1930’s before but here’s some more fascinating video from a Spanish television program of what it looked like almost 40 years later in 1966 (via Shanghaiist). It’s incredible to see the first emergence of high-rise buildings that dominate the skyline today and how quickly things have developed within living memory.


If you enjoyed the visual and musical tour-de-forces of Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka in the 80’s and 90’s then you will undoubtedly be looking forward to the upcoming Samsara which is being released next month (directed by Ron Fricke).

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

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