Friday, January 5, 2007

Jason Watches "Curse of the Golden Flower"

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".


Dadmaniac said...

Wow. I get the singular honor of being the first to leave a comment on Jason's famous blog. This is a great idea, JDPD. I'm looking forward to ongoing stories of your many escapades. Go Quakes!

baceman007 said...

Welcome to the blogspot community. I can only hope that looking at my blog sent you down the perilous road that is blogging although that may not be the case. Anyway, I like the picture. We're almost done with a special Viola website for a special violist that you many already know :).Anyway, I'm excited to read your reviews and I hope you'll leave comments on my blog as well. I guess that blogspot is part of google now, hmmm.

puppymeat said...

Wow, 2 comments! Yes, baceman007, I read your blog once...can you remind me what it's address is again? Actually, I can post a link to it from my blog. And yes, blogspot is part of google. In fact, one reason I chose to use it is my friend Lexi works for Google on the blogger stuff.

baceman007 said...

Thanks man. My blog is
I'll link to yours from my blog as well if you'd like. I was with blogspot before it was part of Google hence my confusion :). Still it is nice to see Google taking over the world instead of Craplosoft. Especially because rumor has it that they're Linux friendly. At any rate we watched Dune and Children of Dune recently. Both were decent, but of course left out some stuff from the books. We haven't seen any new movies yet, but we have started running every night and occasionally humming "Eye of the Tiger" so I will read your Rocky review with great interest. "You can't go to Mars Rock there's no oxygen there..." - Family Guy
Also we're doing a Star Wars Marathon. Well just episodes 4,5, and 6. Oh and another interesting aside is that Paramount is redoing original Star Trek episodes to re-air. It would have been nice if they just produced a new show in the spirit of the old one in the first place, but Paramount seems to be incapable of listening to their fans.

puppymeat said...

baceman007, I added a link to your blog. I also added a link to eric's blog.

It's been so long since I've read the Dune books, I assume you saw the recent miniseries version, not the incomprehensible David Lynch movie. And are you using the orignal 'han shoots first' star wars for your marathon?

baceman007 said...

No we're using the edited DVD's. I have the Han shoots first version on VHS, but we opted for better sound. A decision we may live to regret. We're watching the John Harrison mini-series which is well done considering the depth of material that needs to be covered.