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bear by san

March 2017



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lion in winter dead

there are many things in heaven and earth. but you can only have what I give you.

I watched Curse of the Golden Flower tonight, which was entertaining in a visual spectacle kind of way (wow, the visual spectacle. Like Titanic crossed with The Return of the King) and features Gong Li and ninja fights amidst karst topography (okay, they're Chinese, so they're not really ninja, but you know what I mean) how can you lose?

Also, evil!Chow Yun Fat hair porn. Ninjas, karst topography, Chow Yun Fat hair porn. Who cares what it's about?

Okay, it's a Chinese historical drama. So you know it won't end well. Don't get your hopes up. But hair porn.


Unfortunately, its plot and denouement make even "House Of Flying Daggers" look intelligent and plausible. Don't get me wrong, it is indeed utterly beautiful. But I prefer, if possible, wuxia movies that don't require complete brain switch-off (indeed, ideally which demand major brain switch-on, which is why "Hero" remains one of my favourite... movies... evar...).
For me it hit so many of my narrative kinks that I never had a chance to think about plausibility while watching it, and afterwards never cared. I loved it totally and utterly and promptly went out to buy a copy to keep.
. . . House of Flying Daggers had a plot? I was too busy drooling over Takeshi Kaneshiro the Sexiest Man Alive* to notice.

*As my sister has dubbed him. For proper effect, the whole thing must be said as a single phrase, as if it's his full name, rather than a name and an epithet.
That's the one that's shot in Ukraine, isn't it? I think I was drooling over the landscape.
I loved the sudden inexplicable snowfall, which was explained by... a sudden inexplicable snowfall while filming, that they just decided to go with.
Hey. There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.

Heh -- I didn't know that. Fabulous.
Yep, parts are in the Ukraine (though not the bamboo forest parts...) and its use of landscape is on a par with "Hero". It is an utterly beautiful visual film, for sure.
Yeah... the visual spectacle aspect of this one is phenomenal. Right down to the day-glo columns, which were strangely distracting (right up there with the guys who continually walked around banging gongs and announcing the time). Still not sure I want to own it, although I would happily look at still photos and clips.

The other thing I took away was a lingering sense of, "Right... so... you've been giving her poison designed to drive her insane... and you're shocked and surprised when she then does something crazy?"
And the bosoms! The later T'ang is ALL ABOUT BOSOMS!

Talk about your precarious corsetry. (I did like that the women all had a good deal of agency in their corsetry, even if they got their asses kicked in the end. And I never did figure out of the Empress and the Crown Prince were actually having an affair, or just wishing they were. I might have missed a line of dialogue behind a cat.)

I dunno, I rather felt like this idea of poisoning someone to make them crazy and then reviling them for craziness pretty much summed up a lot of relationships I've seen.... usually the poison is more metaphorical, is all.

Edited at 2010-02-22 11:49 am (UTC)
I liked Curse of the Golden Flower especially because all of the various long term plots clashing together so beautifully. I should have guessed who was going to win in advance based on the cast...but what a ride.

Did you hear, Bear, that the full version of John Woo's Red Cliff is going to be available on DVD in March?
Hair porn is always good.
It's a stunningly pretty film, and lovely to see Chow Yun-Fat treated like an actor again, not a novelty.
He does force of nature really, really well.

Now I wanna see him play Javert.
My, yes.
Oh hell yes. Yes please.
Yeah, Chow Yun Fat = Force of Nature.

I would love to see him do Shakespeare.
That would be awesome. Massively incredibly awesome.

I saw Curse of The Golden Flower on a transatlantic flight either to or from Iceland, after having my curiosity piqued when the girl sitting in the seat in front of me was watching it. Really pretty movie.
It is indeed pretty, but both less pretty than House of Flying Daggers but also made less sense in its grinding pessimism. In Daggers, the genre supports the tensions (in ways I understand).


I thought it was prettier than Flying Daggers, actually. But I admit, the romance plot central to HoFD bored me stiff, so I was there for the wire-fu and the landscapes.
Hmm -- I think of the undercover cop plot as being the central one in HoFD.

And, well, landscape can do a lot for me. Especially with archery fu.

Um, Curse of the Golden Flower had a plot? Apart from everybody getting killed a lot and suffering picturesquely? All I could think as I watched it was variations on "pretty, pretty" and "Good thing there are a LOT of Chinese."

Could there be some traditional narrative rhetoric issue here that I'm not understanding because of, you know, not having a thorough education in Chinese cultural history and literature? Or are movies like this just the Chinese version of Avatar? (derived from traditional narratives, but stupid and muddled anyway)
I just assume that there's a narrative structure that doesn't make sense to me on a visceral level in most Chinese films, fairy tales, and literature. I have a sense that there IS a structure, but I don't grok it because I am not properly acculturated.

I could tell there was a lot of stuff going on relating to filial obedience and felicity, but exactly how it works for somebody who's internalized those issues from the bottom up I dunno.

So mostly I just watch Chinese film for the pretty. And the Chow Yun Fat, which never hurts a bit. Maybe someday I will have watched enough that I will Get It. (I have similar issues with reading Pa Lin. I can tell there's amazing stuff going on in there, but I don't have the tools to unpack it.)

(Except in the Hong Kong action flicks, ala John Woo, which largely follow traditional western structure.)
have you seen Ong Bak 2? -- curse of the golden flower was, imho, not bad but not so good either in the vein of "hero", "seven swords" and the like....
Yeah, it wasn't great, but it was very enthralling. I didn't actually care so much what was happening in the story. I was busy ogling the Cast Of Thousands performing synchronized hairdressing.
It was very pretty, and fascinating to see some of the problems with living in a house where most of the walls are made out of bamboo screens. And of course Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat were marvelous, as usual. The plot was a little twisted for such a short movie, though... Had that been a novel of some 300-500 pages, it would have been easier to swallow, I think.

Movies like this make me wish I knew more about Chinese culture and history, because I know there's stuff in the symbolism and color schemes, let alone the plot, that he's trying to convey and I, being a dumb American who is in it for the pretty, just completely miss.

I'm also fairly certain that I dreamed of meeting you the other night... I think you were part of a court of supreme judges of some variety, all of whom were novelists. I don't think the case you were presiding over had anything to do with literature, though.
I was watching the color symbolism too, and finding it fascinating. The gold and the tarnished silver at the end, the gold stained with hot pink on the pillars and the chrysanthemums, and so on.
I was very entertained by the closing of transparent screens for "privacy."
"Curse" was one of the few films I've seen in the last 10 years that I actually thought, "Man I'm glad I saw this on the big screen". The attack at the inn was just...wow.

Also the scene where Chow Yun Fat schools that guy while sitting on a stool. What more could anyone need from a movie? And yeah I came out of it saying to a friend, "It was like a more epic Chinese version of 'A Lion in Winter'," so kudos on the icon as well ;)