As I enjoyed House of Flying Daggers, appreciated Happy Times and loved Hero, I was looking forward to seeing director Zhang Yimou’s current film Curse Of The Golden Flower. Just like Hero, it centres around the Chinese Emperor and how people want to remove him from this position.
Just that this time these people are his own family rather than outsiders from other provinces. And hence most of the film takes place in the richly decorated and saturated environment of the palace where we learn about the Emperor trying to slowly get rid of his wife by medication while she and one of their sons conspire to take the power from him. In the course of all that we see a few fight scenes of outrageously monumental qualities which lead to an end that sees the Emperor persist but lose a lot.
While I didn’t find the film’s story particularly surprising, it is reasonably well told. And just as other recent Asian films this one bursts of colour. While usually a lot of that comes from gorgeous landscapes, most of Curse Of The Golden Flower takes place indoors and leaves us with a colour scheme that is golden and rainbowy. I found that a bit too overwhelming and I think it overdoes things. Meaning that Hero remains my favourite of Zhang Yimou’s films.
Soylent Green is said to be a classic (by the TV show in which I learned about the DVD release anyway) that gives an outlook on a future where earth is overpopulated, overheated, real food has become scarce and people rely on nutrients such as the popular Soylent Green.
When the cop Robert (Charlton Heston, not that old yet in the early 1970s) gets to investigate the murder of a an executive of the Soylent company not only does he get the opportunity to see the luxuries these rich people live in – large flats with real food, even meat and women who live in those flats as ‘furniture’ to please them – but in the course of the investigation he also learns about the secret ingredient of Soylent Green which not just shocks him but also makes people want to kill him.
I thought this is an amazing film and I was astonished that it’s this old already with topics like global warming and food supplies playing such a role in there.
As Tears Go by is Wong Kar Wai’s first full length film as it seems. It was made in the late 1980s and definitely has that taste to it (sitting in a glumly lit bus with a Chinese version of Take My Breath Away playing…) while telling essentially a gangster story.
Yet quite a bit of the ‘typical’ Wong Kar Wai style, lighting and moods is already visible in that film. Not my favourite really, but quite interesting to see.
Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes (Water drops on burning rocks) is a 2000 film by François Ozon that is based on a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Formally it’s very much like theatre in that the film takes place within a single flat and that it is split up into four acts. It also makes to with just four roles and actors.
The first two of them being Léopold and Franz whose names already hint at the Franco-German wierdness we are going to see with the setup being in 1970s Germany but the film being French up to a few scenes where Heine’s Loreley [translation] is recited in German (with a French accent). Léopold is 50 and some kind of sleazy salesman type and he seduces the open-minded 20 year old Franz who then drops his fiancée Anna and starts to live with Léopold in a role that closely resembles that of a housewife at the time.
So far, so bad. But things get even worse when Anna and an old boy-/girlfriend of Léopold, Véra, turn up. While Anna manages to win Franz back at first, Franz doesn’t manage to just leave Léopold’s appartement and when Anna finally meets Léopold, she is attracted by him as well and things become too much for Franz to take them anymore. Though he is well-mannered enough to call his mum before killing himself.
At first this film irritated me. Just by the high percentage of gay and transsexual roles as well as the impeccably decorated flat it looked like a bit of a Almodóvar rip-off that lacked the bigger drama and exuberance. But then I started thinking that it actually is quite clever nonetheless and that the extra drama wasn’t needed.
Dr Murkes gesammelte Nachrufe, an ancient German TV film based on the follow-up to Heinrich Böll’s fantastic short story Dr Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen . Office Space which I missed when it was new – if it had an evil dog in it, it’s wonderful world of micro-management could be called ‘Dogbert, The Film’. Human Nature, directed by Michel Gondry, written by Charlie Kaufman, starring Patricia Arquette and Rhys Ifans – should be a great film about people catching a ‘wild’ man in the jungle and taming him? But sadly it wasn’t. Woody Allen’s Anything Else that fully meets the shrink / comedy / young girl expectations you’ve started building for Mr Allen – not outstanding but still entertaining. And Karniggels (aka Little Rabbits), an old film by Detlev Buck that was quite famous in the 1990s.
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