Friday, February 17, 2006

Public Toilet, Princess Aurora, A Letter from an Unknown Woman

Three Asian Movies....

Public Toilet (2002, Fruit Chan).
After viewing Hong Kong - Hollywood, I watched Public Toilet.
I'm surprised of how many people disliked it and how many bad reviews it received. Sure, it's not perfect, and I found it a bit too long, a bit too over the place (you're in India, Korea, NY, Beijing, HK, even very shortly in Rome...).
But I like the way it was filmed, with a digital camera and the idea is quite good and some scenes quite inventive. There are many characters in various locations but what makes the link is the fact that they all wander at some point around different places from the world looking for miracle cures for their terminally ill beloveds. Also they all have toilet connections (well we all do). The one who makes even more the link with is Tong from Beijing who was born in a public toilet, and was surnamed the God of the Toilet. As usual some funny and odd parts, but it should have been shorter.

Fruit Chan movies seen :
Made in Hongkong - 1997 (still favourite)
Little Cheung - 1999
Durian Durian - 2000
Hollywood Hongkong - 2001
Public Toilet - 2002
Dumplings (short) - 2004

Princess Aurora (Bang Eun-jin, 2005, South Korea)
I thought it was really disappointing and unconvincing. I don't know if this movie was made before Sympathy for Lady Vengeance or what but here again we have a woman, a killer who seeks for revenge after her 6 year old daughter got kidnapped, raped and killed. I start to get fed up with those types of vengeances which I found quite ambigious and too easy. I got less and less interested by the movie as the story went on and it seems to me that the stylish cinematography only wants to make us forget the lack of content and the lack of character development but more than anything that the movie is rather a failure.

Best to finish with a much better film..

A Letter from an Unknown Woman by Xu Jinglei, 2004.
Xu Jinglei who is also an actress chose Stephen Zweig adaptation for her second movie direction. I first saw her as an actress in movies Spring Subway and I Love You, which I found, she was a very good actress in two different roles but two movies about love. For this movie she is also the leading actress next to Jiang Wen, and deals also about love, lost love in a very melancholy manner. The story is told in flashback with the voice-over and can be divided into 3 parts (when she first met him when she was an young adolescent in the beginning of the 30s, when she was a student at the end of the 30s and when she became a more mature, sophisticated woman at the end of WW2). The movie is very classical, but subtle and refined, the music and the cinematography (shot by Mark Lee Ping Bin, HHH cinematographer, very characteristic here, he also shot Springtime in a Small Town, which has also a similar cinematography, with some very beautiful interiors) contribute to this elegant direction.



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