I watched part I of Red Cliff, John Woo's adaptation of a teeeeeny bit of the story of the Three Kingdoms, a famous epic about how China was split into three warring kingdoms. It is so excellent!

It has Takeshi Kaneshiro as Zhuge Liang (the brilliant guy with the feather fan) and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Zhou Yu, a guy whom Oyce tells me is usually not the main character, but is totally awesome in this and has one of the best character intros I've seen, involving a whole bunch of soldiers, a little boy, and a flute. Chang Chen, the hot desert guy from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, is also in it but I think I didn't recognize him.

There are epic, epic battles with actual strategy! There is a bad-ass fighting princess and her corps of trained soldier-maids! A tortoise provides a key tactic! A man fights with a spear in one hand and a baby he's protecting in the other! There are tons of swordfights shot so that you can actually see what's going on, not in the obnoxious yet strangely fashionable choppy method where all you can see are fragmentary snippets. There is a great deal of scheming and politicking. And, this being John Woo, there are white doves.

There is also Tony Leung partially naked, but sadly he is paired with an excruciatingly boring actress who had me snoozing during the sex scenes, which is quite a feat since this is Tony Leung we're talking about. Perhaps to make up for that, there is a great deal of slashy meaningful glances and even a (kind of long) duet between Leung and Kaneshiro.

It's definitely one movie in two parts. I eagerly await my video store's receipt of II.

In the meantime, please rec any of the following:

1. A good translation of The Three Kingdoms.

2. Movies, comic books, or other Three Kingdoms media. Hot actors and non-boring actresses a huge plus.

I have a Three Kingdoms comic book, but am having trouble following it due to the extreme condensation of a very long story with a cast of thousands. Red Cliff was much easier, since it has hot actors and only focuses on a single episode involving a limited number of people.

View Red Cliff on Amazon: BATTLE OF RED CLIFF PART 1 & PART 2 ENGLISH SUBTITLES - 2 DVDS
rachelmanija: (Brigitte)
( Mar. 28th, 2009 02:12 pm)
This is a famously beautiful, artsy, and incomprehensible wuxia film by Wong Kar Wai, starring every famous Chinese actor ever. It was released to general admiration and perplexity a number of years ago, but the negative was damaged and subsequent DVD copies were muddy and hard to find.

This year Wong Kar Wai restored the negative and re-cut it to make it more coherent, then re-released it. This is the version Oyce and I watched. It is indeed very beautiful and hypnotic. It is also almost entirely bewildering. We kept wondering, “If this is the more coherent cut, what the hell was the original like?” After we finished it, we looked it up online. Apparently the main changes were to heighten colors and cut two battle scenes. That explains a lot. We also noted that the imdb commenters said that the movie was a beautiful, haunting meditation on love, memory, and identity, but none of them attempted to summarize the plot.

Leslie Cheung lives an emo lonely life by himself. People periodically visit him, and he sends them out on missions or advises them or gives or receives wine that may or may not cause amnesia. This is especially confusing as the story is not linear.

Brigitte Lin first appears as a princess. Then she appears dressed as a man. As a man, she hires a swordsman to kill her sister’s lover. Then she reappears as the sister, and hires him to kill her brother. She reappears as the brother, and confesses that she is in love with her sister.

We were very confused as to whether they were one person with a split personality or two people played by a single actress, and if they were one person, what gender that person was supposed to be. The fact that they were played by Brigitte Lin was less enlightening than it could have been, as one of her more famous roles is that of a man who castrates himself to gain power, and then becomes the ambiguously gendered Asia the Invincible and shoots lasers at Jet Li.

We eventually learn that she is indeed one (female) person in love with her male twin personality. MPD twincest: a situation we had never before encountered, even in manga!

This is all shot with gorgeous flickering shadows cast upon their faces by a spinning birdcage whose sole purpose is to cause that lovely effect.

There is a long scene in which a woman writhes upon a horse in an extremely sexual manner. I was disturbed by this, but thought I was being a perv. I looked at Oyce. She was cringing back into the sofa. The camera panned across to include the horse’s penis.

Then there is a story in which Tony Leung (there are two Tony Leungs in this movie – more identity confusion!) is a blind swordsman. He may or may not also become amnesiac later, I was confused. He is either in love with his brother’s wife or his best friend’s wife. When trying to recount this plot to [livejournal.com profile] seajules, I said, “He is in love with his best friend’s brother.” Sadly, no. (Oyce says it was his best friend’s wife, and Leslie Cheung was in love with his brother’s wife.)

Meanwhile or maybe not, a woman is desperate to get revenge for the death of her brother by bandits. She camps out on Leslie Cheung’s doorstep with a mule and a basket of eggs she hopes to trade for revenge. Seasons pass. She still has the same eggs. When she finally gets a swordfighter to take up her cause, he almost gets killed. Leslie Cheung says, “Was it worth it, to sell your life for an egg!”

“I ate the egg,” the swordsman replies.

Oyce and I chorused, “No wonder you’re dying!”

At the end, the camera stays on Maggie Cheung’s exquisite face while she delivers a five-minute monologue which possibly explained everything. But both of us were so hypnotized by her extraordinary beauty that when the shot ended, neither of us could recall a single word she said.

Buy it from Amazon: Ashes of Time Redux
rachelmanija: (Brigitte)
( Mar. 28th, 2009 02:12 pm)
This is a famously beautiful, artsy, and incomprehensible wuxia film by Wong Kar Wai, starring every famous Chinese actor ever. It was released to general admiration and perplexity a number of years ago, but the negative was damaged and subsequent DVD copies were muddy and hard to find.

This year Wong Kar Wai restored the negative and re-cut it to make it more coherent, then re-released it. This is the version Oyce and I watched. It is indeed very beautiful and hypnotic. It is also almost entirely bewildering. We kept wondering, “If this is the more coherent cut, what the hell was the original like?” After we finished it, we looked it up online. Apparently the main changes were to heighten colors and cut two battle scenes. That explains a lot. We also noted that the imdb commenters said that the movie was a beautiful, haunting meditation on love, memory, and identity, but none of them attempted to summarize the plot.

Leslie Cheung lives an emo lonely life by himself. People periodically visit him, and he sends them out on missions or advises them or gives or receives wine that may or may not cause amnesia. This is especially confusing as the story is not linear.

Brigitte Lin first appears as a princess. Then she appears dressed as a man. As a man, she hires a swordsman to kill her sister’s lover. Then she reappears as the sister, and hires him to kill her brother. She reappears as the brother, and confesses that she is in love with her sister.

We were very confused as to whether they were one person with a split personality or two people played by a single actress, and if they were one person, what gender that person was supposed to be. The fact that they were played by Brigitte Lin was less enlightening than it could have been, as one of her more famous roles is that of a man who castrates himself to gain power, and then becomes the ambiguously gendered Asia the Invincible and shoots lasers at Jet Li.

We eventually learn that she is indeed one (female) person in love with her male twin personality. MPD twincest: a situation we had never before encountered, even in manga!

This is all shot with gorgeous flickering shadows cast upon their faces by a spinning birdcage whose sole purpose is to cause that lovely effect.

There is a long scene in which a woman writhes upon a horse in an extremely sexual manner. I was disturbed by this, but thought I was being a perv. I looked at Oyce. She was cringing back into the sofa. The camera panned across to include the horse’s penis.

Then there is a story in which Tony Leung (there are two Tony Leungs in this movie – more identity confusion!) is a blind swordsman. He may or may not also become amnesiac later, I was confused. He is either in love with his brother’s wife or his best friend’s wife. When trying to recount this plot to [livejournal.com profile] seajules, I said, “He is in love with his best friend’s brother.” Sadly, no. (Oyce says it was his best friend’s wife, and Leslie Cheung was in love with his brother’s wife.)

Meanwhile or maybe not, a woman is desperate to get revenge for the death of her brother by bandits. She camps out on Leslie Cheung’s doorstep with a mule and a basket of eggs she hopes to trade for revenge. Seasons pass. She still has the same eggs. When she finally gets a swordfighter to take up her cause, he almost gets killed. Leslie Cheung says, “Was it worth it, to sell your life for an egg!”

“I ate the egg,” the swordsman replies.

Oyce and I chorused, “No wonder you’re dying!”

At the end, the camera stays on Maggie Cheung’s exquisite face while she delivers a five-minute monologue which possibly explained everything. But both of us were so hypnotized by her extraordinary beauty that when the shot ended, neither of us could recall a single word she said.

Buy it from Amazon: Ashes of Time Redux
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 15th, 2008 07:30 am)
An entertaining, though perhaps not actually good, Korean film about a cooking competition.

In the prologue, two cooks compose exquisite blowfish sashimi platters for a panel of judges. "They're poisoned!" chorused [livejournal.com profile] cofax7 and [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro.

[livejournal.com profile] rilina, [livejournal.com profile] oyceter, and I, more used to the conventions of Asian media, said, "Eh? Why would they--"

The panel of judges proceed to vomit and keel over. Poisoned!

Cut to several years later. A cooking contest offers as prize an ancient knife used by a chef to hack off his own hand during the Japanese occupation of Korea as a protest against the overlords. The grandsons of the chefs seen in the prologue are competing. There is a good chef (handsome, honest, owns a cow he loves like his own little sister) and a bad chef (puffy face, greasy hair, cheater, no cow.) There is also The Girl, who plays even less part in the story than The Girl usually does. Also, she does not actually participate in a romance. She's just there.

It was all fun and games until a stage of the contest required perfect charcoal. It turns out that perfect charcoal is only made by one man... on Death Row! Evil Chef visits and stupidly mocks Death Row Dude. Death Row Dude tries to bite his nose off, but unfortunately fails. Then we see the sepia flashback of tragedy and woe! Once he was a small starving child, abandoned by his destitute mother who was forced to turn to prostitution and being the kept woman of an abusive man. He learned to burn charcoal, which slowly blinded him so he had to wear Coke-bottle glasses. (I flashed back to the pony going blind from coal dust in the YA Agony Awards.) When he tried to stop his mother from being beaten, she turned on him, and then he stabbed her abuser with a charcoaled branch. And then was executed. But he tells the charcoal secret to Team Good Chef before he dies.

For the next contest, they need perfect beef. The hitherto Good Chef kills the cow he loves like a sister! The cow cried! The Girl did not argue against this! There is a random scene of some other guy fisting some other cow. We all boggled.

There is also assisted suicide and Alzheimer's. A guy dresses up in his old Army uniform, bends over, and begs his old Army buddy to beat him. The old Army buddy does. If this was a better, or just better-known movie, a thousand slash fics would have been born.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 15th, 2008 07:30 am)
An entertaining, though perhaps not actually good, Korean film about a cooking competition.

In the prologue, two cooks compose exquisite blowfish sashimi platters for a panel of judges. "They're poisoned!" chorused [livejournal.com profile] cofax7 and [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro.

[livejournal.com profile] rilina, [livejournal.com profile] oyceter, and I, more used to the conventions of Asian media, said, "Eh? Why would they--"

The panel of judges proceed to vomit and keel over. Poisoned!

Cut to several years later. A cooking contest offers as prize an ancient knife used by a chef to hack off his own hand during the Japanese occupation of Korea as a protest against the overlords. The grandsons of the chefs seen in the prologue are competing. There is a good chef (handsome, honest, owns a cow he loves like his own little sister) and a bad chef (puffy face, greasy hair, cheater, no cow.) There is also The Girl, who plays even less part in the story than The Girl usually does. Also, she does not actually participate in a romance. She's just there.

It was all fun and games until a stage of the contest required perfect charcoal. It turns out that perfect charcoal is only made by one man... on Death Row! Evil Chef visits and stupidly mocks Death Row Dude. Death Row Dude tries to bite his nose off, but unfortunately fails. Then we see the sepia flashback of tragedy and woe! Once he was a small starving child, abandoned by his destitute mother who was forced to turn to prostitution and being the kept woman of an abusive man. He learned to burn charcoal, which slowly blinded him so he had to wear Coke-bottle glasses. (I flashed back to the pony going blind from coal dust in the YA Agony Awards.) When he tried to stop his mother from being beaten, she turned on him, and then he stabbed her abuser with a charcoaled branch. And then was executed. But he tells the charcoal secret to Team Good Chef before he dies.

For the next contest, they need perfect beef. The hitherto Good Chef kills the cow he loves like a sister! The cow cried! The Girl did not argue against this! There is a random scene of some other guy fisting some other cow. We all boggled.

There is also assisted suicide and Alzheimer's. A guy dresses up in his old Army uniform, bends over, and begs his old Army buddy to beat him. The old Army buddy does. If this was a better, or just better-known movie, a thousand slash fics would have been born.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 25th, 2008 10:10 am)
I had an unusually sociable weekend.

On Friday, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] branna's place and cooked lamb chops with a spice rub. They were delicious, perhaps due to both of us checking them carefully for the right degree of doneness, me by poking them to test the texture and then cutting them to test appearance, and [livejournal.com profile] branna sticking in a meat thermometer. Unfortunately, I ruined the asparagus by forgetting about them for, judging by the disgusting texture, about twenty minutes.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] yhlee and I and her friend A went to Koreatown. We arrived early, and bought two bags of Corvette-flavored cupcakes. Then we proceeded to this fantastic teeny restaurant in a strip mall and had fried fish, salad over purple rice topped with chunks of raw fish, flying fish roe, and spicy sauce, and (my favorite) a soup listed on the menu as "delicious soup" which consisted of richly flavored broth with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth potato and just-chewy-enough flat, hand-torn rice noodles. I know it sounds boring, but seriously, it was not "delicious," but delicious.

The panchan (side dishes) included chunked radish kimchi, shredded radish kimchi, marinated fish cake, and delicious shoestring potato potato salad... with raisins. (I picked those out.) Then we went to a bakery and I got a slightly salty pounded rice dough pancake stuffed with red bean paste and a fantastic chocolate croissant. The employees all screamed something when I dropped some coins in the tip jar. I hope it was "TIIIIIIIP!" not "LOUSY TIPPPPPPER!"

Last night [livejournal.com profile] jeremytblack and I went to an Oscar party at [livejournal.com profile] chickflick1979's place. I brought home-made cake and Corvette cupcakes. Both were sadly underappreciated, I regret to say. But the party was very fun and the guests were great.

The only nominated films I'd seen were Sweeney Todd and The Bourne Ultimatum, so I had no dogs in the race. I always seen Coen Brothers movies, but missed their curent one in the theatres. What is Michael Conway about? The clips looked good.

I adore Tilda Swinton and have since Derek Jarman's Edward II, in which she played Isabella as a vampire, and was thrilled to see her win an Oscar and take the opportunity to discuss her agent's ass and the Batsuit. But less thrilled with her supremely unflattering garbage bag dress. Generally, I was unimpressed with the clothes. Feathers are in. Why? They cover up women's lovely cleavage, and wave gently and distractingly like sea anemone tentacles.

Jeremy tells me that if you have seen Daniel Day Lewis' undoubtedly extremely brilliant film, his acceptance speech about golden trees sprouting from his director's head does not sound crazy at all. I will take his word for it. I am sure the movie is a work of staggering genius. I have been put off it by the previews, which all show Day Lewis ranting maniacally while the camera doesn't move (three hours of that? Yikes), and by my general burn-out on depressing three-hour movies about white guys, which make me want to run back to Outfest to see cheerful ninety-minute movies about gay Thai schoolboys and Scottish-Indian lesbian chefs.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 25th, 2008 10:10 am)
I had an unusually sociable weekend.

On Friday, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] branna's place and cooked lamb chops with a spice rub. They were delicious, perhaps due to both of us checking them carefully for the right degree of doneness, me by poking them to test the texture and then cutting them to test appearance, and [livejournal.com profile] branna sticking in a meat thermometer. Unfortunately, I ruined the asparagus by forgetting about them for, judging by the disgusting texture, about twenty minutes.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] yhlee and I and her friend A went to Koreatown. We arrived early, and bought two bags of Corvette-flavored cupcakes. Then we proceeded to this fantastic teeny restaurant in a strip mall and had fried fish, salad over purple rice topped with chunks of raw fish, flying fish roe, and spicy sauce, and (my favorite) a soup listed on the menu as "delicious soup" which consisted of richly flavored broth with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth potato and just-chewy-enough flat, hand-torn rice noodles. I know it sounds boring, but seriously, it was not "delicious," but delicious.

The panchan (side dishes) included chunked radish kimchi, shredded radish kimchi, marinated fish cake, and delicious shoestring potato potato salad... with raisins. (I picked those out.) Then we went to a bakery and I got a slightly salty pounded rice dough pancake stuffed with red bean paste and a fantastic chocolate croissant. The employees all screamed something when I dropped some coins in the tip jar. I hope it was "TIIIIIIIP!" not "LOUSY TIPPPPPPER!"

Last night [livejournal.com profile] jeremytblack and I went to an Oscar party at [livejournal.com profile] chickflick1979's place. I brought home-made cake and Corvette cupcakes. Both were sadly underappreciated, I regret to say. But the party was very fun and the guests were great.

The only nominated films I'd seen were Sweeney Todd and The Bourne Ultimatum, so I had no dogs in the race. I always seen Coen Brothers movies, but missed their curent one in the theatres. What is Michael Conway about? The clips looked good.

I adore Tilda Swinton and have since Derek Jarman's Edward II, in which she played Isabella as a vampire, and was thrilled to see her win an Oscar and take the opportunity to discuss her agent's ass and the Batsuit. But less thrilled with her supremely unflattering garbage bag dress. Generally, I was unimpressed with the clothes. Feathers are in. Why? They cover up women's lovely cleavage, and wave gently and distractingly like sea anemone tentacles.

Jeremy tells me that if you have seen Daniel Day Lewis' undoubtedly extremely brilliant film, his acceptance speech about golden trees sprouting from his director's head does not sound crazy at all. I will take his word for it. I am sure the movie is a work of staggering genius. I have been put off it by the previews, which all show Day Lewis ranting maniacally while the camera doesn't move (three hours of that? Yikes), and by my general burn-out on depressing three-hour movies about white guys, which make me want to run back to Outfest to see cheerful ninety-minute movies about gay Thai schoolboys and Scottish-Indian lesbian chefs.
Same as in previous post, but the full story in one place and html corrected. Thanks Moi!

Here it is again! )
Same as in previous post, but the full story in one place and html corrected. Thanks Moi!

Here it is again! )
The casting, most of the performances but especially the girl who played Lyra and Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the art direction, Nicole Kidman's outfits, Daniel Craig being hot, and the scene in which Lyra meets the other bear king: GOOD!

The script, the direction, the pacing, the tension, the overall concept, the length (too short), the sense it made (very little), the jaw-droppingly inappropriate ending, and the daemons (except in long shots): BAD!

I wonder what people who hadn't read the book made of the movie, because it seemed almost entirely incoherent. If I hadn't already known, I would have had no idea who half the characters were, why anyone was doing anything, or why any of it mattered.

A nine-year-old boy I know, who did not like it and hadn't read the books, had a most perceptive comment: "You never worried about the main characters, because every time they needed help, someone just showed up and gave it to them." Very true!

As all the connecting material that explains who people are and why they're doing what they're doing and how they got there was cut, the following characters show up completely out of the blue to rescue Lyra and deliver exposition: the Gyptians, Iorek Byrnison, Lee Scoresby, and Sarafina Pekkala. By the end of the movie, we know who Iorek is and what motivates him, but the others are still great big mysteries and walking plot devices.

The movie mainly consists of incomprehensible infodumps alternating with uninspired action sequences. The more people explain, the less we understand. The writer and director ought to have taken a lesson in show don't tell.

It was an extremely bad idea to have almost the first sentence spoken be narrative explaining that daemons are people's souls, as anyone arriving late or still getting into the mood will miss it. Animating the daemons was also a bad idea. They look fake. Pan's voice is way too young and timid-sounding. The early scene in which a man is shot and lies dying, with his ferret daemon trying to comfort him, was cut; it really would have helped establish what daemons are and how important the relationship is. I guess it was deemed too dark, like when we realize that severing the bond between human and daemon kills them both. This was also cut, also to the detriment of the entire movie.

The only scene which really captures the book is the one in which Lyra meets Ragnar, the bear king; it's gorgeous and eerie and tense, and seems to have come from a different movie entirely.

Lyra is spectacular, and most of the acting and casting is excellent, but they can't save the movie from its BAD script and direction.

about that inappropriate ending... )
The casting, most of the performances but especially the girl who played Lyra and Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the art direction, Nicole Kidman's outfits, Daniel Craig being hot, and the scene in which Lyra meets the other bear king: GOOD!

The script, the direction, the pacing, the tension, the overall concept, the length (too short), the sense it made (very little), the jaw-droppingly inappropriate ending, and the daemons (except in long shots): BAD!

I wonder what people who hadn't read the book made of the movie, because it seemed almost entirely incoherent. If I hadn't already known, I would have had no idea who half the characters were, why anyone was doing anything, or why any of it mattered.

A nine-year-old boy I know, who did not like it and hadn't read the books, had a most perceptive comment: "You never worried about the main characters, because every time they needed help, someone just showed up and gave it to them." Very true!

As all the connecting material that explains who people are and why they're doing what they're doing and how they got there was cut, the following characters show up completely out of the blue to rescue Lyra and deliver exposition: the Gyptians, Iorek Byrnison, Lee Scoresby, and Sarafina Pekkala. By the end of the movie, we know who Iorek is and what motivates him, but the others are still great big mysteries and walking plot devices.

The movie mainly consists of incomprehensible infodumps alternating with uninspired action sequences. The more people explain, the less we understand. The writer and director ought to have taken a lesson in show don't tell.

It was an extremely bad idea to have almost the first sentence spoken be narrative explaining that daemons are people's souls, as anyone arriving late or still getting into the mood will miss it. Animating the daemons was also a bad idea. They look fake. Pan's voice is way too young and timid-sounding. The early scene in which a man is shot and lies dying, with his ferret daemon trying to comfort him, was cut; it really would have helped establish what daemons are and how important the relationship is. I guess it was deemed too dark, like when we realize that severing the bond between human and daemon kills them both. This was also cut, also to the detriment of the entire movie.

The only scene which really captures the book is the one in which Lyra meets Ragnar, the bear king; it's gorgeous and eerie and tense, and seems to have come from a different movie entirely.

Lyra is spectacular, and most of the acting and casting is excellent, but they can't save the movie from its BAD script and direction.

about that inappropriate ending... )
Tags:
This is one of my favorite movies. I think I've seen it six or seven times, maybe more. Even so, I'm not entirely sure how this director's cut differs from the earlier one; both remove the clunky narration, cut the (not very) happy ending, and add in the unicorn dream. The score is notably clean, but I'm not sure exactly what was added. I don't remember the snatches of a kabuki chant that play when people enter JF Sebastian's apartment, but that may just be that this time around was the first time I knew what they were.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Harrison Ford is a "blade runner": a licensed assassin who kills runaway replicants, who are androids who are human in almost every respect, but stronger, faster, tougher... and with a four-year lifespan. He's sent to track down four replicants, led by Rutger Hauer in an unforgettable role and performance. It's sf noir, set in a future Los Angeles. Like most sf about androids or robots, it's about what it means to be human.

Actually, I suspect that many of you who haven't seen it already wouldn't like it; there's Asian characters talking in broken English, and the whole landscape is so dystopian that its Asian influence can be read as part of its wrongness, though I think it was intended as extrapolation. Also, the central romance works much better if you take it as a fucked-up relationship between two profoundly damaged people which begins with a rape and culminates in Stockholm Syndrome, than as the passionate affair it was probably intended to be. (I mean Deckard and Rachael. Roy Batty and Pris may be profoundly damaged, but their relationship doesn't seem notably unhealthy.)

That being said, it is still one of my very favorite movies, for Roy Batty and Pris and JF Sebastian, and the terrible and beautiful confrontations toward the end. And C-beams glittering off Tannhauser, and tears in rain.

Though some of the worldbuilding isn't quite consistent (Earth seems both under and over populated, for instance; the reason for the replicants' limited lifespans is given as insurance against rebellion, and as an unavoidable byproduct of their existence) it feels like an utterly convincing other world, full of the odd and unexplained details that make it seem real, yet bound together by tightly knit themes that make it seem a unified whole:

Cut for spoilers.
Read more... )
This is one of my favorite movies. I think I've seen it six or seven times, maybe more. Even so, I'm not entirely sure how this director's cut differs from the earlier one; both remove the clunky narration, cut the (not very) happy ending, and add in the unicorn dream. The score is notably clean, but I'm not sure exactly what was added. I don't remember the snatches of a kabuki chant that play when people enter JF Sebastian's apartment, but that may just be that this time around was the first time I knew what they were.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Harrison Ford is a "blade runner": a licensed assassin who kills runaway replicants, who are androids who are human in almost every respect, but stronger, faster, tougher... and with a four-year lifespan. He's sent to track down four replicants, led by Rutger Hauer in an unforgettable role and performance. It's sf noir, set in a future Los Angeles. Like most sf about androids or robots, it's about what it means to be human.

Actually, I suspect that many of you who haven't seen it already wouldn't like it; there's Asian characters talking in broken English, and the whole landscape is so dystopian that its Asian influence can be read as part of its wrongness, though I think it was intended as extrapolation. Also, the central romance works much better if you take it as a fucked-up relationship between two profoundly damaged people which begins with a rape and culminates in Stockholm Syndrome, than as the passionate affair it was probably intended to be. (I mean Deckard and Rachael. Roy Batty and Pris may be profoundly damaged, but their relationship doesn't seem notably unhealthy.)

That being said, it is still one of my very favorite movies, for Roy Batty and Pris and JF Sebastian, and the terrible and beautiful confrontations toward the end. And C-beams glittering off Tannhauser, and tears in rain.

Though some of the worldbuilding isn't quite consistent (Earth seems both under and over populated, for instance; the reason for the replicants' limited lifespans is given as insurance against rebellion, and as an unavoidable byproduct of their existence) it feels like an utterly convincing other world, full of the odd and unexplained details that make it seem real, yet bound together by tightly knit themes that make it seem a unified whole:

Cut for spoilers.
Read more... )
After getting burned out on Outfest several years ago by seeing six heartfelt coming-out movies in a row, I returned to see two... heartfelt coming-out movies.

Luckily the passage of time had burned out my burn-out and made heartfelt coming-out stories more interesting to me. Also, one was set in Thailand and one is Glasgow. When you're dealing with a very old story, an unusual setting can help a lot to make it seem fresh and new.

Right By Me was a Thai movie about gay high school boys, shot on a budget of what looked like about eight dollars. Nat is an out and proud queen who's not-so-secretly in love with his best friend, the semi-closeted semi-jock and full-on-romantic Tat... who is madly in love with the completely closeted and conflicted Ek, a popular jock with a girlfriend. Luckily for Tat, who is very smart, Ek needs a tutor...

In addition to being graced by one of the most attractive and charming screen presences ever, playing the bespectacled "good boy" Tat, this was sweet, funny, engaging, and just a whole lot of fun. I don't think it has a regular US release, but it might appear on DVD.

Nina's Heavenly Delights is an English/Scottish co-production (I think) about a young Scottish-Indian woman who fled Glasgow on the eve of her arranged marriage, ostensibly because she didn't love her fiance but really because she's a lesbian. She returns to Glasgow when her father, who owned an Indian restaurant, dies, only to find the restaurant about to be sold. With the help of a lovely young woman who conveniently is the part-owner of the restaurant, Nina must enter a televised curry contest to save it!

This one looks like a million bucks despite its low budget. Unfortunately, the script is even more predictable than the plot outline suggests-- I could predict a lot of the dialogue word-for-word. It's saved by its sweetness and sincerity, and by a fantastic Bollywood number at the end, in which every characters participates in a huge dance number, in character. Regent will release this in the USA in early October.
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After getting burned out on Outfest several years ago by seeing six heartfelt coming-out movies in a row, I returned to see two... heartfelt coming-out movies.

Luckily the passage of time had burned out my burn-out and made heartfelt coming-out stories more interesting to me. Also, one was set in Thailand and one is Glasgow. When you're dealing with a very old story, an unusual setting can help a lot to make it seem fresh and new.

Right By Me was a Thai movie about gay high school boys, shot on a budget of what looked like about eight dollars. Nat is an out and proud queen who's not-so-secretly in love with his best friend, the semi-closeted semi-jock and full-on-romantic Tat... who is madly in love with the completely closeted and conflicted Ek, a popular jock with a girlfriend. Luckily for Tat, who is very smart, Ek needs a tutor...

In addition to being graced by one of the most attractive and charming screen presences ever, playing the bespectacled "good boy" Tat, this was sweet, funny, engaging, and just a whole lot of fun. I don't think it has a regular US release, but it might appear on DVD.

Nina's Heavenly Delights is an English/Scottish co-production (I think) about a young Scottish-Indian woman who fled Glasgow on the eve of her arranged marriage, ostensibly because she didn't love her fiance but really because she's a lesbian. She returns to Glasgow when her father, who owned an Indian restaurant, dies, only to find the restaurant about to be sold. With the help of a lovely young woman who conveniently is the part-owner of the restaurant, Nina must enter a televised curry contest to save it!

This one looks like a million bucks despite its low budget. Unfortunately, the script is even more predictable than the plot outline suggests-- I could predict a lot of the dialogue word-for-word. It's saved by its sweetness and sincerity, and by a fantastic Bollywood number at the end, in which every characters participates in a huge dance number, in character. Regent will release this in the USA in early October.
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Yesterday I was at my old college UCLA to do some research at the library. Afterward, as I was passing by the Theatre Arts movie theatre which screens free films on an irregular schedule, I approached the box office to get a schedule of screenings. Before I could say what I wanted, a ticket was thrust into my hand. So I took it and went into the theatre, where I saw a screening of The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a film about the Irish rebellion in 1920, directed by Ken Loach, starring Cillian Murphy from Batman Begins and 28 Days Later.

As soon as the director and subject matter were announced, I had a strong feeling that it would end with Murphy's character a) hanged, b) shot by a firing squad, c) shot in battle. To avoid spoilers, I will not tell you which if any of my guesses were correct. I will, however, say, a) depressing, b) unwatchably horrifying torture sequence, c) despite Loach's obvious sympathy with the Irish people and the Irish rebels/terrorists, he leaves it very much up to the viewer to decide if armed rebellion/terrorism actually was a good idea in either the long or even short run, d) Murphy's extraordinary eyes are not lit to display their spooky beauty, which I guess is appropriate since it's not that kind of movie, but disappointing to me despite his excellent performance, e) depressing, f) Iraqis will make movies just like this some day.
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Yesterday I was at my old college UCLA to do some research at the library. Afterward, as I was passing by the Theatre Arts movie theatre which screens free films on an irregular schedule, I approached the box office to get a schedule of screenings. Before I could say what I wanted, a ticket was thrust into my hand. So I took it and went into the theatre, where I saw a screening of The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a film about the Irish rebellion in 1920, directed by Ken Loach, starring Cillian Murphy from Batman Begins and 28 Days Later.

As soon as the director and subject matter were announced, I had a strong feeling that it would end with Murphy's character a) hanged, b) shot by a firing squad, c) shot in battle. To avoid spoilers, I will not tell you which if any of my guesses were correct. I will, however, say, a) depressing, b) unwatchably horrifying torture sequence, c) despite Loach's obvious sympathy with the Irish people and the Irish rebels/terrorists, he leaves it very much up to the viewer to decide if armed rebellion/terrorism actually was a good idea in either the long or even short run, d) Murphy's extraordinary eyes are not lit to display their spooky beauty, which I guess is appropriate since it's not that kind of movie, but disappointing to me despite his excellent performance, e) depressing, f) Iraqis will make movies just like this some day.
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Oyce's Dad has been watching this movie on DVD for several days, so I keep seeing bits and pieces of it. It is set in historical-make-believe-China, and looks extraordinary: everything is gilded and ornamented and every shot displays about fifteen different brilliant colors, so every scene seems to be taking place inside a Faberge egg, or a stained-glass window. This is remarkable to look at, but makes it rather difficult to follow the story. Luckily, the story does not appear to be very complicated.

Every time I have glanced at the screen or even watched for extended periods, one or more of the following events is taking place: Gong Li drinking poisoned "medicine," looking pained and haughty; Gong Li's or the poison-carrying maid's breasts are prominently displayed, in corsets so they're practically popping out of their heavily ornamented dresses of cloth-of-gold; people hurrying down technicolored corridors; gigantic gilded and baroque doors opening or closing. The soundtrack appears to consist entirely of BOM! BOM! BOM!

Oyce's Mom wandered in at one point, glanced at all the gold onscreen, and remarked disapprovingly, "Too expensive."
Oyce's Dad has been watching this movie on DVD for several days, so I keep seeing bits and pieces of it. It is set in historical-make-believe-China, and looks extraordinary: everything is gilded and ornamented and every shot displays about fifteen different brilliant colors, so every scene seems to be taking place inside a Faberge egg, or a stained-glass window. This is remarkable to look at, but makes it rather difficult to follow the story. Luckily, the story does not appear to be very complicated.

Every time I have glanced at the screen or even watched for extended periods, one or more of the following events is taking place: Gong Li drinking poisoned "medicine," looking pained and haughty; Gong Li's or the poison-carrying maid's breasts are prominently displayed, in corsets so they're practically popping out of their heavily ornamented dresses of cloth-of-gold; people hurrying down technicolored corridors; gigantic gilded and baroque doors opening or closing. The soundtrack appears to consist entirely of BOM! BOM! BOM!

Oyce's Mom wandered in at one point, glanced at all the gold onscreen, and remarked disapprovingly, "Too expensive."
Thanks to the one-three punch of Casino Royale, MI-5/Spooks, and a re-read of Tim Powers' Declare, I am now obsessed with spies, secret agents, moles, and all things deceptive and paranoid. Recommend me some good books (fiction or non), movies, TV shows, or other media about spies.

I already have Sandbaggers in my Netflix queue, and have read (but not really understood) Stoppard's Hapgood. I have never read John LeCarre or any of the other spying classics (so recs of specific books rather than general recs of an author would be good.) I am particularly taken by the angst of spying, the paranoia, the confusion between persona and identity, and the possibility of agents becoming so doubled, tripled, or quadrupled that no one really knows what side they're on, including themselves.

I've read enough about the Enigma machine to be interested, but is there a book about it that isn't incomprehensibly technical?

Finally, is there any good history on early spying, like pre-twentieth century?

ETA: During a recent visit to Costco, during which Dad used his wife's card since he didn't have his own with him (which you're not supposed to do there), he confessed that while he was living at the ashram, a combination of boredom and LeCarre had gotten him so obsessed with spies that he used to pretend to be one and see how far he could sneak through low-level security without actually displaying his ID. Damn, I wish I'd known that two years ago; I would have definitely mentioned it in All the Fishes Come Home to Roost. My father, the secret agent, slipping undetected through life.
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