Monday, September 6th, 2004

Motion Pictures

I went to see Hero last night, since I was apparently one of the six or seven people on the planet who hadn’t already seen it on DVD in the two years since it’s release back in China. For someone of Chinese descent, I have a remarkably lame grasp of Chinese history – I never even played Romance Of The Three Kingdoms on the Nintendo. I always have trouble keeping track of the names… Anyway, Hero is based on two thousand-year old Chinese history/mythology and purports to tell the tale of how six warring kingdoms were united as one. Centred around a conversation between a nameless warrior (Jet Li) and the emperor, most of the story takes place in the form of flashbacks and a shifting accounting of events. On the downside, the storytelling is distant and mechanical, and the acting is almost excessively sombre – stoicism was apparently the order of the day when making this film.

Still, I found the almost mystery-like structuring of the narrative sufficiently involving – I never got bored. The flashback structure was also a little difficult to follow at first, but it did allow the opportunity for Tony Leung to have no less than four different death scenes and Zhang Ziyi to get her ass kicked several times over. The martial arts sequences were decent enough, but didn’t especially razzle dazzle (at least no more than you’d expect from a couple of martial arts masters going toe-to-toe). The most amazing feature of the film was the cinematography – I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautifully shot movie this year, and probably not in the past few years. Some of the visuals are simply breathtaking – it’s the sort of film I’d like to get on DVD just to freeze-frame certain scenes and soak up the imagery. It’s sold as an epic martial arts tale but I think its strengths lie elsewhere. I did like it a fair bit but am still surprised at the effusive critical praise it’s getting. Some folks really really liked it.

Late post? Yes, but don’t chalk it up to sloth. I was up bright and early this morning to go down and claim my Film Festival tickets. The box office was to open at 9, I got there at ten to and was still pretty far back in the massive line-up. Apparently the first people had gotten in line at 2AM last night. That’s hardcore. The line moved pretty briskly though, and I had my tickets within an hour – ten for ten in my selections, though I didn’t really remember what I’d requested or why. So here’s the films you can expect some sort of writeup on over the next couple weeks:

  • David Gordon Green / Undertow

  • Margaret Brown / Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

  • Stephen Chow / Kung Fu Hustle

  • Park Chan-wook / Old Boy

  • Shane Carruth / Primer

  • Takashi Miike / Zebraman
  • Should be a good schedule, yes? Still, that’s going to be a helluva lot of movies and line-ups over the next while.

    Lucinda Williams’ double-live set Live At The Fillmore West has been pushed back a month or so to October 26. Also delayed is the Mogwai BBC sessions disc, Government Commissions. It should be out in early 05 – tip from No Rock & Roll Fun.

    np – Drive-By Truckers / The Dirty South

    By : Frank Yang at 2:01 pm
    Category: Uncategorized
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    1. Carla says:

      I’m going to try to get a ticket to Zebraman as well. You going to the midnight screening?

    2. sam says:

      david gordon green, chan-wook, and takashi miike???? wtf? damn, dude. you’re a lucky son-of-a-bitch.

    3. mike says:

      I went at 2 pm. The wait was less than five minutes.

    4. Frank says:

      yeah, and the fact that I got every one of my pics really made the whole process unnecessary… but still, it’s my first TIFF and isn’t standing in a massive lineup part of the whole initiation? No? Shoot.

      Carla – I’m going to the Saturday night screening of Zebraman. I couldn’t do the midnight one, gotta work the next day. Lame, I know.

    5. pearly says:

      I’m also going to see Undertow and Old Boy. I got tickets online on Wednesday and was surprised there were still ‘good’ films available. I got Haven (w/orlando bloom), Sideways (dir. by alexander payne. w/ paul giamatta) premiere at the Elgin, and Yes (w/ joan allen).

    6. pearly says:

      i guess lining up could be initiation… but I got tickets online two years in a roll, no line ups :P