Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Xi Yan (The Wedding Banquet)

You're witnessing the results of 5,000 years of sexual repression.
- Guest at wedding banquet, Ang Lee's cameo

Xi Yan is fabulous. Sure, the plot's a bit of a stretch: the protagonist is Wai-Tong, a gay Chinese businessman living in the US with his American boyfriend Simon. His parents won't stop hounding him about getting married b/c his dad really wants a grandchild so finally one day, Simon suggests that Wai-Tong marries one of his tenants, Wei Wei, which will kill two birds with one stone: satisfy Wai's parents and also allow Wei Wei to stay in the US. there's this really awesome line from the movie where Simon finally manages to convince Wai-Tong to do this: by bringing up tax breaks for married couples. And while the scenario of the fake marriage is a bit far fetched, the characters are all so well developed and you end up caring about them all that it doesn't matter in the end. You just hope that everything works out. It seems like they will, but then again...you've never sure.

I miss the more intimate feel of some of Ang Lee's earlier movies. Xi Yan does a really good job depicting the dynamics of an Asian family, especially the cultural gaps b/n generations. It showcases so many fantastic moments: Wai Tong finally telling his mom and expressing how much he really wanted to share his world with them, the mom scrambling for the purse, the dad walking faster than Wai Tong, Simon helping Wei Wei cook behind the parents' back, Wai-Tong's overenthusiastic college buddy at the wedding, Simon wiping Wai-Tong's mouse with a napkin after he kisses Wei Wei, the mom talking to Wei Wei about how her son will be straight once he sees his son and Wei Wei trying to explain to the mom that this isn't how it works, and the dad talking to Simon and how neither of them understands.

Princess Mononoke

Cut off a wolf's head and it still has the power to bite.
-Lady Eboshi

Ashitaka is not a cheerful, worry-free boy. He is a melancholy boy who has a fate. I feel that I am that way myself, but until now, I have not made a film with such a character. Ashitaka was cursed for a very absurd reason. Sure, Ashitaka did something he should not have done - killing Tatari Gami. But there was enough reason to do so from the humans' viewpoint. Nevertheless, he received a deadly curse. I think that is similar to the lives of people today. I think this is a very absurd thing that is part of life itself.
-Hayao Miyazaki

I feel like despite how great the dubs are compared to a lot of other anime for Miyazaki movies, there's always quite a lot lost in the translation and that there are a lot of subtleties that you won't quite get unless it was in its original language. While as a Miyazaki fan, it's probably blasphemous to say this, I can't quite bring myself to like this film that much. It's epic. It has lovely animation, a gorgeous gorgeous score (probably my favorite out of all of Joe Hiashi's stuff), and a good message. However, it's difficult for me to feel connected with the characters. I do like what the characters stand for and how most of them are quite multi-dimensional- like Lady Eboshi, who's so cruel to nature and rather harsh in her tactics, but ultimately compassionate to her fellow humans- she buys the contracts of prostitutes from brothels and employs and cares for lepers.

Les Triplettes de Belleville

Is that it, then? Is it over, do you think? What have you got to say to Grandma?
-Madame Souz

A very weird, bizarre movie. Sketchy Belleville mafia members who look like rectangles, grenades for getting dinner (frogs), a kick butt grandma, an awesome car scene, faux Disney castle, using a dog as a tire, etc. It was a generally enjoyable, although the animation is a bit odd, even creepy at times.

Fantasia 2000

It's cute, great animation, but doesn't measure up to the original Fantasia, which is probably one of my favorite movies ever.

The Dark Knight
Sometimes the truth isn't good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded...
What I love about this movie is that it's one of those movies where you notice something new each time you watch it. The first time, I was ensnared by Heath Ledger's Joker and the overall darkness of the film, psychologically and otherwise. That scene where the Jokerfied corpse hits the mayor's window still makes me jump and shiver. The second time, I was fascinated by Dent and Gordon's respective forces and their ideologies. Eg. Dent referring to County as Gordon's fortress. The most recent time, by the idea of what it means to be an outcast hero and filling in the finer points of the plot and how it all connects, and even though I miss Batman Begin's Bruce Wayne (the energy and ferocity he had in the first one where he was fighting X prisoners at once), I did love how longing and desperately hopeful he looked when he prodded Dent at dinner and found out that he was willing to take up Batman's mantle.

I still don't love it as much as the first one, but I do love the complexity, the intermittent scenes in which three story lines or more are progressing all at once. The warehouse sequence and the first string of Joker attacks are all fantastic. And the ending, the last fifteen minutes or so when it's Batman, Dent, and Gordon at the old warehouse and the last narration is pretty flawless b/c it brings everything back together: Fox finding that the computer system self destructs, Alfred burning Rachel's letter...

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