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Cafe Lumiere

the other day i went to lido to watch "cafe lumiere" directed by hou hsiou hsien after i saw that it was awarded FOUR stars in the bkk post (which is quite exceptional). haven't seen anybody talking about this movie, so i'd give it my 2p.

***naturally THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***
(although the plot really doesn't matter much in this movie)

the movie is made as a centennary celebration for yasujiro osu who is apparently a very famous japanese director. it's about a girl writer, yoko, who's pregnant with a taiwanese boyfriend, but one who she's not intended on marrying, and a guy, hajime (played by the guy from "last life in the universe" and "zatoichi"), who likes to record train sounds who is in love with the girl.

from bioscope, the movie is shot in osu's style, which is very japanese (although the director is taiwanese) and very, very slow (let me stress this, this film is VERY VERY SLOW). the camera is usually placed in only one spot and not moved throughout the entire scene, which means often people are talking offscreen and it can look quite monotonous. a guy actually walked off the cinema, and a few were sleeping.

however, the camera work is exquisite and will not let you down. the pace, however, is very slow. you see people doing their regular stuff like washing, ironing, eating, talking, falling in love, and being lonely. there's no real climax in the movie, no real conflict, no real twists, nothing. it's just like watching life.

the two main plots are the relationship of yoko with the family, especially when yoko tells the family she's pregnant and plans to raise the child alone. the dad, however, is not brave enough to say anything to the child. we can see the dynamic in the japanese family life working here where there's generation gap and somewhat disfunctioning relationship.

the other subplot is with yoko and hajime, who is a bookshop owner and who likes to record the sound of the train. hajime likes yoko but doesn't say so. we see their "relationship" play out during the film, BUT DON'T EXPECT ANYTHING DRAMATIC. it is like real life where love slowly creeps on you without you noticing it until you are already in love!

however, and here is where i do not really get the movie, there are some subplots. the first one is that yoko has a reoccuring dream about a changeling (goblin) stealing her child. this turns out to be from a children story that she used to read while she was with her mom (real mom -- now she's with a step mom). WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??!?!?

secondly, there is this thing with yoko trying to research about this taiwanese pianist. we can see it develop a bit, but i don't see how this fits into anything at all.

lastly, why is it "CAFE LUMIERE". the cafe that yoko usually sits in is CAFE ERIKA, NOT cafe lumiere. so what is with the name?

anyway, overall, i am quite undecided with the movie. i would be quite pretentious to say that i love the movie. however, there is a strange charm to it. it lacks climax, yeah, and the subplots lack conclusion. but maybe this is the intention of the director. the feel of the movie is very nice though and the cinematography is top-notch. my BTS ride back from the movie theatre is very interesting indeed.

so i guess it can all be summed up in one word -- (really) sublime. i'll probably give it a 7/10.




 

Create Date : 12 เมษายน 2548    
Last Update : 12 เมษายน 2548 14:16:55 น.
Counter : 125 Pageviews.  

5x2, Tokyo Godfather, Ray, and Alex & Emma

These are the four films I've watched between the elapsed period between the last blog and this.

5x2 by Francis Ozon (or whatever i'm too lazy to check with IMDB)

the film is a mix between memento and an obscure french love story. it is similar to memento in that the sequence of the story is backward, starting with the scene of their divorce and ending with the moment they first meet. it is like any other obscure french love story in that it is, first, boring, second, explicit, and third, hard to comprehend.

the movie is NOT very enjoyable. this is because my friend had msileadingly told me that the film is a NICE LOVE STORY that charts a couple's relationship through five stages (in reverse order as mentioned earlier). in reality, it's anything BUT nice. it is, in fact, a tragic story of a relationship built on infidelity.

however, because of the reverse sequence of the events, you do not know this at the start and you assume that their conflict was of something different, but you begin to learn as the film unfolds that the relationship is doomed from the start and is one that is built on mistrust and infidelity.

those who think otherwise are wrong (if you have watched the film), and you should not think that this film is a sweet film or else you'd be sorely disappointed. if you bring your girlfriend to the film, you'd even be MORE DISAPPOINTED.

the crux of the story is this, the guy meets the girl while on a relationship with someone else (first infidelity). then on the wedding night the couple did not have sex (since the guy was drunk) so the girl wandered around and had sex with an american tourist (second infidelity). and in a scene where the girl gave birth to a baby, the guy was not there for her. this is because (although the film does not explicitly say it -- in fact it doesn't say it at all!!) either 1) the baby is not his, or 2) he knows about his wife's adultery and hence he does not love the wife. in fact, neither does the wife love him (you can see it if you pay attention to the nuances of the movie).

anyway, it's crap. i don't like it. it's boring. it may be good, but not my cup of tea.

Tokyo Godfather by some jap guy

this is an animation about three hobos -- a transy, a 17 yrold girl, and a gambling bum -- who found a baby in a dumpster on xmas. the film follows their quest to return the child to the parents and in the course of it discovered things about their own life.

it is generally well-done. many amusing moments (though not laugh-out-loud funny) and very good characterisation. in all the film carries the message about screwing up your life but then having a second chance and the (good) nature of people trying to help each other blah blah and throw into the mix the miracle of xmas -- nothing very fancy. anyway, the animation is gorgeous and the plot and script well written. while it's not ambitious, it steers away from all the regular cliches.

worth watching.

Ray by someone

a story of ray charles played by jamie foxx. now, i hate this guy. i've seen his sitcom and it sucks. now, i'd have to admit that i watched this on an airplane so the quality might suck, but i really feel taht if you watch movies in-flight, the quality will be infinitely amplified since what is important will not be just the glossy production (that any hollywood movie with big budget has) but more on the plot/characters/direction/etc. i've watched swimming pool in-fight before and it really, really surprised me since it was so good (and indie -- on the plane)!!

anyhow, i think "Ray" is mediocre. the plot is standard and uninteresting. the focus is most on ray charle's love life (or rather, lives) and on his drug addiction, not his music. however, the elements are, beside the love part, quite weak and do not gel together well on the whole. he is, supposedly, a big innovator and he fights for his own rights as an artist but this is underplayed in the film. moreover, the flashack scenes are well lame and badly acted. i don't think jamie foxx is outstanding in the role of ray charles and is not very convincing. moreover, because of the plot, you neither feel sympathetic towards ray (since he's a heartless self-absorbed bastard) nor any real connection to him (his fight for the black community is insignificant in this movie). it's quite formulaic really but worse of all it does not have a climax. hence, the movie lacks direction and leaves you feeling unsatisfied.

overall, mediocre.

Alex & Emma by some hollywood director

now, i'm feeling a bit embarrassed to admit that this is the movie i enjoyed most! i am a fan (not really) of Kate Hudson since i think she's extremely cute in "how to loose a guy in 10 days" and in fact outstanding in "almost famous" as penny lane. the guy is played by a guy whom i cannot remember the name but starred in

the movie is about an author who owes 100k to some cuban mafia and will be killed unless he finishes his novel within 30 days. now his pc was fucked up by the mafia so he has to dictate his novel to a stenographer (ppl who type stuff for lawyers) which is played by kate hudson. along the way, they eventually fall in love. also, and here's the nifty part (not really), the novel that the guy is writing reflects his life and relationship -- set in a great gatsby-esque time.

now, what is want to say about this film is this: this is a straight love story but IT MAKES SENSE AND IT'S NOT OVERLY LAME OR OVERLADEN WITH CLICHES. WHY CAN'T ALL BIG BUDGET FILMS BE LIKE THIS!?!? is it too hard to ask for movies that make sense with even remotely interesting characters and properly developed plots? although this movie is very, very predictable, and very, very formulaic, it is understandable and acted decently.

it is a solid movie. it reminds me of the 80's when movies are simple but coherent. this is before the time of big budgets movies when people send too much on effects and visuals and forget to write a script. it pains me when i see big budget films like TROY and VAN HELSING turn out like CRAP with scripts written by high-school students. if you watch alex & emma, you will realise that A BRAINLESS MOVIE CAN STILL BE ENJOYABLE.

anyway, alex & emma, while not outstanding, is enjoyable. sure it's formulaic and sure it's predictable, but with kate hudson's charm and a decent screenplay, the movie is better than its comtemporaries.

Conclusion from this bach of movies

Hollywood formulaic films (alex & emma) need not be crap while indie movies can be really crap (5x2). a dose of humanity makes you sympathis with the characters (tokyo god father) but a film without humanity will make the audience unsympathetic, and ultimately, loose interest in the film (ray).




 

Create Date : 30 มีนาคม 2548    
Last Update : 30 มีนาคม 2548 18:26:52 น.
Counter : 111 Pageviews.  

655321

A Clockwork Orange by Stanely Kubrick

just got a chance to see this in full today. i loved it completely. it was such a great film. terrific acting and terrific direction and the story is great.

what is important is the main theme. of course, there is the obvious one of 'clockwork orange', summed up by the priest in the exhibition scene, that to do good without having the choice is not truly to do good.

however, i feel there is a more subtle message, namely, that evil is indeed a part of human being. if you look at all the 'victims' of alex and how they tried to extract violent revenge on alex after he was 'treated', you could see the inherent evil within each and everyone of them.

what's worse, the very last scene, we can see the public applauding alex as he f8cks a girl. this, to me at least, shows how the society readily accepts evil when it is concealed in political propaganda.

it is also interesting how kubrick teases our conscience by having us root for alex, the embodiment of evil in the story. why? do we envy alex of his free spirited and vital life style? or is it more sinister, do we in fact envy the very evil deeds that, free from the bounds of society, alex was able to commit? do we sympathise with him since we recognise freewill to be the fundamental right of a humanbeing?

this last question is perhaps most convincing, especially in the scene where alex was conditioned to hate beethoven. it injects into alex character -- the pure evil machine -- a thread of humanity that each of us can sympathise with. even if he is a defect, he still has some humanity in himself, and that is the ability to make choices.

anyhow, i think this is a truly great film.




 

Create Date : 15 มีนาคม 2548    
Last Update : 15 มีนาคม 2548 10:45:39 น.
Counter : 105 Pageviews.  

Triple whammy weekend

Friday 10 March to Sunday 13 March I watched three movies: Electric Shadows, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissous, and The Motorcycle Diaries

Electric Shadows by Jiang Xiao



what did i feel about this film? well, overall it was good enough. BUT i was not very impressed by it. one of my friend remarked that the earlier portion of the movie is like a chinese version of แฟนฉัน.

so what are the good points of this film? well, it is formulaic, so it is quite easy to watch. the acting is decent enough, especially the kids. a bit different, i guess.

BUT here comes the bad point. first, i think the plot is ridiculous. it doesn't have any weight at all. i don't see why the girl's lives should be that miserable. look at the mom and look at the dad, they are very, very good people. and the brother, he's also a fantastic brother. she has no reason to descend into her own miserable world at all.

this makes the movie loose its importance to me, and especially towards the end, i completely lost interest in the story. and also, the degree of melodrama and forced emotional scenes are too much for me to stomach.

so for me this film is tidily executed, although it does not offer anything exciting. maybe i'm just heartless. 3/5

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissous by Wes Anderson



i watched this one on saturday night. this film is by wes anderson, the director of rushmore and the royal tenenbaums. i've watched the royal tenenbaums, didn't like it, subtlety, maybe, but for me i think too self-indulgent. i've watched parts of rushmore, but haven't watched it all the way through.

so, how is it? the high part is obviously the very stylised and quirky feel to the movie. from the start, you knew that this is not a 'normal' movie. it's such a patchwork of different cinematic techniques and more like sketches combined into a long collage rather than one succinct film.

like tenenbaums, the pace of the movie is slow and sometimes it's hard to follow. yet, everything is just SO nice to look at. the music is also very, very cool. one of the crew (jorge something) plays bowie on his classic guitar on the boat, and these are absolute gems. i've downloaded the OST but effect of hearing the songs in the film is much, much better.

so what's my verdict? well the film is very COOL. that's probably the best word to describe it. however, because the film's ethereal feel, and the detached plot, i did not connect on any real level with the film. cool, true, but sadly not anymore than that.

Motorcycle Diaries by Walter Salles



a story of che guevara's early 20's when he was about to finish his med school and went on a roadtrip with his biochemist bud which eventually opened his eyes to things that would change his life.

personally, the film's theme and message is very powerful to me. being on the verge of choosing a career myself, and feeling my ideals and principles slipping away, it is interesting to see a guy who had decided to throw his life away in pursuit of his principles.

however, the film does not try to pretend to be anything great. it does not try to preach anything to anyone, it just wants to show you what happened. in this respect, it is very, very well done. u feel like its a documentary and the feel of the 1950's is very genuine. you can also feel the power of youth emenating from che and the friendship with alberto.

the main point about che's undergoing a change from a med student to a revolutionary is subtle. it might be a bit too subtle i feel. but on the other hand it prevents the movie from being overdone.

if you don't watch the movie as the movie about che guevara, it will still be a very good and powerful movie. however, it does not give any explicit right or wrong answers, but it does show how a person of conscience can undergo changes from this experience.

overall, a satisfying experience, and i'd say the best one i watched during this weekend. a bit subtle, but interesting and entertaining.




 

Create Date : 14 มีนาคม 2548    
Last Update : 14 มีนาคม 2548 9:14:40 น.
Counter : 86 Pageviews.  

note

this blog is for the purpose of myself reflecting on recent movies that i have watched. therefore, they are not reviews and naturally they WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS.

also, i am very opinionated, but bear in mind that they are my opinions and thus you are free to disagree.

continue at your peril




 

Create Date : 14 มีนาคม 2548    
Last Update : 14 มีนาคม 2548 7:45:19 น.
Counter : 140 Pageviews.  


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