Movie Nights

Movie Nights
Some movies you watch for the story, some for the acting, some for the music. Then there are those that are great just because they were shot well. Thanks to the director and the cinematographer. These past few weeks, I have been able to watch a few of the most visually arresting films.

The first was Zhang Yimou's The House of the Flying Daggers. An action flick with an absolutely banal story with really idiotic twists. The martial art stuff is good, but then after a while the highly overdone CGI daggers and the supernatural nature of the martial arts gets to you. The leads Zhang Ziyi, the Aishwarya Rai of China and Takeshi Kaneshiro are great. It's a movie you have to see for the stunning fall scenes in China and you cannot help but noticing the great colour-work (if there is such a term).
Watch for color and camera only.

A librarian at Cleveland had highly recommended the Korean Film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring and refused to give more details, but said that I should watch it because, 'It's beautiful'. And it was. A floating house in the middle of lake and the change of seasons. The Master and his apprentice and the slow painful process of learning or rather self-realization. It is more a Zen koan than a movie. At the end you feel strangely at peace with the world.

A film directly on the opposite side of spectrum in terms of feeling at peaceful and being optimistic about the world is the Brazilian City of God. Felt it was closer in style and feel to Satya and other gansta-movies of late than the Hollywood Mafia movies- Godfather and Goodfellas. They seem to be quite refined in comparison to this visceral and bloody depiction of life in Rio de Janeiro's worst slum. Liked the mix of fast cuts and music for the action. eg: The first shot is a masterpiece with the fast cuts of a chicken, people chasing it with guns and then the chicken running, all with samba music in the background. Finally, it ends with the gang on one side and the police on the other and the hero with his camera in the middle trying to catch the chicken and the camera pans around. It is and is not a linear movie, it flashes back then forwards. It's like someone narrating a story from memory. You sometimes go back and then forwards and then back again. I read later that different kinds of colours for the film were used for the shots of the 60s (more brownish) and more vivid for the shots of the 70s. Very subtle.

Every two weeks the State Theater shows a classic movie at 12am on Saturday. I got there about 10 mins before the show, and was shocked to see that the whole hall was packed. In the States it is really rare to see anything packed more than 25% its capacity. Seems like all the hard-core movie nuts(there are a lot of them in Ann Arbor) had converged to watch Trainspotting. Classic features of a cult movie - a cast of really whacked out characters, especially Spud and Begbie, colorful use of slang and a counter-culture theme. All the close-ups were shot with a wide-angle lens distoring the features of the people and the angles were totally non-conventional, especially the trip scenes. They better be ...

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?

At 2am, after the movie got over, I wondered. What the hell am I doing?. Not a surprising moment of epiphany?

No comments: