Archive for the ‘Chinese cinema’ Category

MY FAVOURITE FILMS

May 31, 2014

Sorry, I have neither time to research complex Japanese issues, nor inspiration to write about my real life, past or present, hence, another list – a little extension of my diary so to say.

I´ve seen dozens of classics in my life – “Breakfast at Tiffany´s”, “Easy rider”, “Marathon Man”, “3 Women”, “8 1/2 Women”,  Wajda, Ozu, you name it – and I usually DON´T like them, so perhaps my list can lead you to discover something not that obvious and yet not that weird.

 

1. VALMONT (1989)

Everybody seems to know “Dangerous Liaisons” with John Malkovich and Uma Thurman, but Milos Forman´s version (from the very same year) is so much better – who would like to go to bed with Glenn Close rather than with 30-year-old Annette Bening? But the biggest gem of the movie is pre-Darcy Colin Firth – a French, relaxed, funny, sexy, cocky Colin Firth smiling like a devil.

 

2. TOUTSIE (1982)

Probably the best comedy ever made, and no wonder bearing in mind that the two protagonists, both Academy Award winning actors, are accompanied by Bill Murray, while the film as such is directed by Syndey Pollack. I love the plot for being true to life rather than Hollywood staple, I love Dustin´s navy blue polo shirt (or is it his arms?), but most of all, I simply adore Teri Garr´s “I´m a professional actress” monologue.

 

3. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

I hate it when a film (or a book for that matter) is narrated in such a way as if I were a moron: “This is Alice. She lives in a big flat in New York. And this is her boyfriend Reg”. Even as a 5-year-old I needed more sophistication than that! Yes, now you know why I dislike Woody Allen, who doesn´t seem to realise how many more possibilities he has at his disposal. But what about the double plot in “Melinda and Melinda”, you will exclaim, or the Greek chorus in “Mighty Aphrodite”? Cheap! Or maybe I just belong to the Matrix generation? (Not that I have seen it more than once). For me, you should either tell us a really good, moving story or play with the images, the special effects, the time sequence – or both. “Eternal Sunshine”, as well as impressing the viewer with its sheer creativity, strikes a chord with anyone who´s been through a break-up. Plus, laid-back Kate Winslet with great hair and Jim Carrey with normal facial expressions.

 

4. CHUNGKING EXPRESS, the second of two stories (1994)

How many romantic comedies have you seen where the girl had short hair and sold fast food, whereas the guy talked to teddy bears? Oh, the 90s, oh, Hong Kong cinema… – since Hong Kong cinema is not only low-budget kung-fu trash, I assure you – in 1987 the director of “Chungking Express”, for example, got the Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival. It´s also a perfect film for the fans of “California Dreamin´” (ever seen a film where the same song is played about 16 times?) as well as The Cranberries, and not only because of a Chinese cover of “Dreams” – discovering the singer-actress Faye Wong is like discovering a parallel universe with even more Cranberries-like hits.

 

5. INFERNAL AFFAIRS I, II, III (2002-2003)

If Martin Scorsese got an Oscar for “Infiltration”, the original (yes, it´s no secret it´s a remake of  this Hong Kong trilogy) deserves a… Any ideas? A classy, moving thriller in three parts, whose subplotting is as good as in “Harry Potter” (the books, not the films).

Moj ulubiony polski film, spytacie? “Lekarstwo na milosc”. Scenariusz Chmielewskiej, Kalina Jedrusik w wannie, Andrzej Lapicki w garniturze, a w tle Krystyna Sienkiewicz oraz Fedorowicz i Czechowicz uczacy sie angielskiego. No i te crushe, i “Joanno!”. Film jest calutki na youtubie.

 

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KUNG HEI FAT CHOY!

December 29, 2009

My husband has stuck this lovely gold and red poster in our living room as a Christmas ornament this year, but “Chinese Odyssey 2002”, starring my beloved actors Tony Leung and Faye Wong (pictured on the left) is of course one of the so-called “lunar new year films” released annually in Hong Kong in late January or early February to boost cinema ticket sales during the three-day holidays. The Year of the Tiger starts on February 14th 2010, which is a good reason to celebrate it even if you’re not Asian.  Especially as Tony Leung actually IS a Tiger 🙂 More information on lunar new year films at: http://www.yesasia.com/us/yumcha/kung-hei-fat-choy-lunar-new-year-films-in-hong-kong-cinema/0-0-0-arid.58-en/featured-article.html

Wong Kar Wai

January 21, 2009

My first glimpse of Wong Kar Wai’s oeuvre was the “2046” website shown to me by my excited husband, who wanted to check the premiere details. The website was all Metropolis-like skyscrapers dotted with high-tech billboards and this, plus the title, plus my husband’s interests, made me think the film was a science fiction one. It turned out to be a dreamy nostalgic drama set in night clubs and diners of the 1960s Hong Kong, a drama about impossible love which always comes too early or too late or with too much jealousy or at a great price.

I used to think “2046” is just a sequel to “In the Mood for Love”, a film which is even more dreamy as the actors playing in it didn’t actually know what the plot was about and spent a year or so acting out different unrelated scenes, and the female lead has a different quipao in every scene although the heroine couldn’t possibly afford it. This time there’s only one love story, the one of the writer from “2046” and his neighbour’s wife. It’s wonderfully presented: it is his wife and her husband who had an affair first, we never see the spouses’ faces (and their bodies were played by the two leads anyway) and the lovers never declare love or kiss or go to bed so perhaps they are not lovers at all and it’s just our western imagination going wild?

I used to think “2046” is just a sequel to “In the Mood for Love” and so seemed to do most of the reviewers, but in fact it’s the last part of a trilogy, the first part being “Days of being wild” with multiple love stories again and as sad as usual. The three films are all objects and tunes – the light switches, the wallpapers, the phones give you (at least if you remember them from your grandma’s flat) as much kick as the sambas, the cha-chas and Nat King Cole singing in Spanish with a heavy American accent.

If you are more into stories than moods, Wong Kar Wai has also made the best romantic comedy ever and that’s the second of the two novellas that are “Chungking Express”. A word of warning though – it’s a romantic comedy for those who don’t want an ending on the Empire State Building or at Heathrow Airport or in the rain, nor any kissing/running into the arms etc. I like “Chungking Express” just as like “Toutsie”, in which the two leads, instead of becoming a couple at the end, walk away from us talking about which dress is HE going to lend HER.

A great thing about Hong Kong cinema is that you keep bumping into your favourite actors without even planning this. In “2046” there are Tony Leung, Faye Wong and Carina Lau. In “In the Mood for Love”: Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. In “Days of being wild”: Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and Andy Lau, and the last three minutes of the film is just Tony Leung preparing for a night out. In “Chungking Express”: Tony Leung, Faye Wong. In “As tears go by”: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung. In the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy (best thriller of all times): Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Carina Lau. Well, it’s a great thing about Chinese cinema as such, not only Hong Kong. After all you can see Tony Leung in “Hero” (with Maggie Cheung) or “Chinese Odyssey” (with Faye Wong). And so on and so forth. It’s just that I like Cantonese more. Unless it’s the Mandarin of Chen Daoming (Hero, Infernal Affairs III) 🙂