Sunday, May 08, 2005

A busy Netflix weekend

Wow. I've been blown away by other Zhang Yimou titles; this is perhaps his most visually stunning yet. Is the story goofy/tiresome/cliched/awkward/pointless? Yes, but who the fuck cares? Turn off the subtitles and just watch The House of Flying Daggers for what it is; an old-school Kung Fu film crafted by one of the most gifted auteurs, a veritable feast of light, color, and design. Incredibly lavish, with sensuous fabrics against intricate landscapes and strange and effective CGI. I didn't like Hero much because Yimou was trying to force a Kung Fu movie to be an arthouse film; here, he makes a Kung Fu movie with arthouse skill, and it's much less pretentious. I still wish Yimou would go back to making serious films of smaller scale--I know he saw the billion dollars made by Crouching Tiger and thought "I can do that," and I can sympathize with his desire to cash in--but now that he's cashed in he can stop. BTW--will somebody for the love of God release The Story of Qi Ju and Raise the Red Lantern on DVD!!!?

I have Silenus to thank for recommending this excellent corrective to the saccharine sensibilities of Moonstruck. People in the Austrian suburbs don't "lead lives of quiet desperaton" according to Hundstage; instead, they lead lives of outrageous manipulative cynicism, banal sadism, and hopeless empty pseudo-eroticism. There's not much overt violence, but this is an exquisitely painful film to watch, and features an un-titillating orgy sequence one must see to believe. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I found much of it outright hilarious. Almost.

Yeah, it's good. I don't have much to say about it for some reason, perhaps because it's hard to watch someone portraying young Ernesto before he became the martyr Che, knowing all along his youthful idealism will be squelched as he's hunted down and shot full of holes by the CIA in a Bolivian jungle. Motorcycles Diaries is beautiful and touching, and yet I felt grumpy watching it. I also found my desire to visit Peru ratcheted up even further.