Sunday, February 12, 2006

Notes on some Asian films

A few Asian movies seen lately... (bis)

even shorter thoughts! May develop a bit more later...

One Nite in Mongkok by Derek Yee (2004-HK) with Cecilia Cheung, Daniel Wu - well told story, good crime film in a rather realistic manner. I enjoyed it.

Shanghai Dreams by Wang Xiaoshuai (2005, China) - set at the beginning of the 80s in Guizhou province. In the 60s, a large amount of families left Chinese cities to settle in the poorer regions of the country in order to develop local industry. Well shot and well played, but I think I prefered Drifters (although there is a similar tone I found).

Chicken Poets by Meng Jinghui (2002, China)
Meng Jinghui is an avant garde stage director and Chicken Poets was his debut film.
The film tells the story of unsuccessful, defeated and dissatisfied poet Ouyang Yunfei who admires the Russian poet Mayakovsky. As he arrives in a town near Beijing to see his old classmate who now breeds black chicken, he meets Fang Fang, a color-blind lonely young woman who works at the airport.
The film offers some odd situations and is rather bitter mixed with a certain light irony (which gives a tone that can often be found in Mainland Chinese films), the words are condensed, succint and sharp and the images are very well-composed sometimes dreamlike using nice imagery and visual effects. More than anywathing the two leading actors are great. Very good film!!

Hong Kong - Hollywood by Fruit Chan (Three Extremes, Made in HK...) made in 2002 starring the delightful Zhou Xun.

When I watched Dumplings of 3 Extremes, I found a bit strange that Fruit Chan was making a gory horror film since the 3 other movies I've seen before weren't at all horror or gory. Fruit Chan is one of the very few independent filmmakers in Hong Kong who doesn't follow the HK star-system since most of his actors/tresses are non-professional or unknown. In Hollywood Hongkong though there is the Mainland actress Zhou Xun who at the time got revealed with a great Mainland Chinese movie, Suzhou River (2000).

The movie is interesting and contains several sub-stories, displaying a gallery of characters, all portrayed realistically. I actually really like how he films the urban environment, a quality that he proved in his previous movies.
The film opens with the opening credits orginally done showing pieces of dead pigs ready to be cooked with red labels containing the credits.Then you have the family portrait : Little brother, Big brother and Father who live in the dilapidated Tai Hom and run a barbecue pork restaurant. They have their own pigs, including one called Mama. One of their neighbours is a young skinny 19 year old pimp, Keung, who gets his business from internet but more from the locals (father pork butcher). Keung meets a young beautiful Mainland prostitute (Zhou Xun), Fong Fong. When Fong Fong arrives in Tai Hom, she meets the family butcher and introduces herself as Tung Tung. She charms them all but you know there is something suspicion behind all this....

As I've said there are many sub-plots and details and in a rather dark humour tone, there is something that I could related to 3 Extremes : firstly, the most obvious one is the Mainland doctor, who wants to make some strange experiments with Mama (the pig, well the female pig) and this special type of dark humour.

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