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
.

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