I don't know if I'll have to stamina to blog about every movie I see, but I'll at least start out trying. Anyway, Zhang Yimou's latest martial arts melodrama spectacular has the honor of being the first movie I've seen in 2007 and the first movie I've seen since starting this blog. As always, he tops himself (and nearly everyone) visually. The melodrama is as over-the-top as the visuals (and I mean that in a good way), with incest and murder in China's royal court. And it's a treat seeing Gong Li teaming up with Zhang Yimou again, and seeing Chow Yun-Fat in a completely villainous
role as the emperor (even his gun toting killers in John Woo movies were still mostly heroic).
Anyway, you can read reviews of it anymore, and this site isn't really about reviewing movies as much as chronicling my adventures watching movies.
But I do want to comment on Zhang Yimou's recent transition from the small, understated films that won him so much acclaim ("Raise the Red Lantern", "The Road Home", etc.) to big, flashy martial arts spectaculars ("Hero", "House of the Flying Daggers", and now "Curse of the Golden Flower"). I haven't studied his work closely enough to really complete this thesis, but I have a feeling that his two styles of movies are not all that different. There's of course an obvious difference in style, but I think the ideas he works with--family, loyalty, honor, tradition, and particularly Chinese identity--are still the same. It's wrong to say his movies are "Americanized". I don't even think they're "Hong Kong-ized", although perhaps that's closer. The easiest example is the ending of "Hero", which without giving away any spoilers I'll just say it's pretty obvious how to change the ending to make it appeal more to American sensibilities. And I believe similarly the endings of "House of the Flying Daggers" and "Curse of the Golden Flower" reveal how the mainland Chinese sensibility (or at least Zhang Yimou's sensibility) differs greatly from American and even Hong Kong sensibility. As I said, right now it's just a feeling but maybe some day I'll study his work further and come to a more solid conclusion.
Okay, that's it for now. Hopefully I'll see a bunch of movies this weekend. Really looking forward to "Children of Men".