Movies and Photos

We finally joined Netflix. As a result, all evenings in recent memory are devoted to dvd watching. Want to spend a few words on a few movies.

A City of God(2003)
Gangsters in the ghetto of Rio, Brazil. The color was de-saturated but still rich with warmth. The language of cinematography was the most impressive. The way of the lenses was used to narrate the story. We saw people¡¯s idea expanding with wide angle shots on the soccer field, we saw one gangster¡¯s attempt to escape the inescapable as the camera moving across the ghetto languidly from the air, etc.. The innovative ways of cinematography reminds me of Before Night Falls.

Monster (2003)
¡°Violence is a one-way ticket.¡± I thought to myself as the movie ends.

The movie was all about Charlize Theron, her acting was truly Oscar-worth. The story, somehow, was still too detached. The director wants to inform viewers of certain sides of the ¡°Monster¡± the mainstream media didn¡¯t bother to investigate. But the story didn¡¯t connect. Viewers remained an outsider throughout, examining the life of Aileen as if examining exotic specie in a zoo.

One curious aspect of the movie was the slowly degradation of Aileen¡¯s attitude toward violence. At the very beginning, she CHOOSES her victims. Often she would spare her ¡°John¡±¡¯s life when she deemed him not a bad guy. That was the ¡°honeymoon¡± period of her violent life. She was in control, finally. But soon, the control of her conscience started to slip out of her hands. The violence itself started dominating her. ¡°A violence means can never produce a peaceful end.¡± Someone once said, I guess he was right.

Frida (2002)
I¡¯ve seen Frida in the theatre. Loved it so much that I put it on my netflix queue again, and also because Mi has never seen it. I, myself, watched the film one more time with the director¡¯s commentary on. It was fascinating to see all the subtle connections the director had intended, such as the two incidents when Diego opened a door into Frida¡¯s home; the prominent role of the four poster bed played in Frida¡¯s life; the prophecy of Diego¡¯s fall told by the skyscraper-climbing King-koon in Frida¡¯s imagination; and all the famous paintings of Frida recreated into three dimensional scenes in the movie¡­

Shortly after watching Frida in the theatre, I read a Chinese female journalist (she was known as the most famous celebrity reporter in China then)¡¯s article on Frida. I remember myself being furious with the journalist¡¯s point of view. She basically said Frida proved the vulnerability of female sex, who had always to remain secondary to the male specie. ¡°How could someone mis-read the movie to such a degree?!¡± I remember writing to Gui, ¡°I so want to spank the author to wake up!¡± But then I did have some lingering doubt, could it be that I didn¡¯t catch the undertone of the movie? Maybe I only saw the strong Frida and missed her weakness? Watching it again proved that lingering of doubt false. Frida did has her vulnerability, but her vitality, her strength and her boldness were still the prominent of her life. She was every bit a equal, if not a superior, to her husband.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)
I¡¯ve been boycotting this movie due to its conservative supports. But Mi was curious because he had heard how exquisite the production was and how refined the imageries were. So I watched it with him. I¡¯m glad I did, because now I can laugh at it with confidence. The movie was more empty than I had expected. Very similar to Dubya¡¯s campaign platform, the movie is rich in grandeur gestures, but significantly lacking in substance. Not much thinking has been put into the philosophy and history of Christ¡¯ death, all it had was plenty of polished imageries stolen from plenty of religious paintings and sculptures from Renaissance. [Sneer].

Taxi Driver
I¡¯ve heard so much about this cult classic, now I finally watched it. But I find myself having nothing to say about it. It is an interesting movie. Not very Hollywood. Which means it didn¡¯t try to insult viewers intelligence by explaining every detail to death. But I don¡¯t find it THAT amazing, either. It did remind me of the recent movie Collateral, though. Maybe because both were centered in a taxi cab. Under comparison, I like Collateral better because it has more warmth.

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On a separate note, i’ve just cleaned up and put up some photos:
Cappadocia Section of Turkey Trip.
Paris and Mars moved in San Francisco!
Halloween on Castro, 2004

2 thoughts on “Movies and Photos

  1. I love the ceramic shop and rock church, amazing.
    Love what you wrote about the Beijing’s winter in your memory. My memory about Beijing are all summer moments, delicious Taifood and yogurt in the ceramic bottle, dirty taxi, the radio in the taxi, the fake antique market, musuem, the campus folk song in the street bars, the very quite XiangShan, all the friendly people I met and helped me there… However, my memory of Shanghai are almost all cold-weather related. Warm evening snacks in the corner 24hour Lawson store, the 20-people long table in the crowded Japanese buffet place that the whole office can gather together until midnight, the flower and music in HanYuan bookstore, the lamb-kabab stand next to the bus stop, all those tiny lanes we walked after dinner and stopped at each street light to decide which way to turn…

    Jean’s Reply:
    WOw! JoyMocha, that was beautiful writing! Really really enjoyed reading them. YOu should expand on that and write an essay out of that. Based on your description, your Beijing was already much more modern than mine. 🙂
    Yes, the ceramic shop and the rock churchs blew me away. The vibrante color and interesting underground structure were beautiful…
  2. Feel so happy that you like it. So much as I enjoy reading, I don’t like writing or maybe I simply get frightened by the word “essay” which sounds so serious.

    I remember that I was trying to make some pocket money as a freshman by being tutor for elementary school kids ( I simply are not capable for junior high tutoring). I was picked up by parents in the same day I post my ads, but I was asked to teach the kid on several objects: maths, English, Chinese writing,etc… I was ok with the first two, but for Chinese writing, I was totally worthless, so I tried to inspire the poor kid by playing games and reading stories, then out of guilt, I made up an excuse and quit the job.

    Maybe I was born with a trustworthy school teacher look, parents seemed to like me to teach their kids. While I stayed at my aunt’s home in GuiZhou during one summer vocation in high school, I was once again asked to tutor a girl (this time for free).

    I taught that pretty girl to do a few maths questions, advised her to claim loss of the summer vocation homework booklet(it is the same one for all the mainland kids, I can hardly remember myself ever finish doing my own summer homework which is not worth doing anyway and I find that all teachers tend to forget collecting those anyway a few days after the new semester begins).

    Anyhow, the girl and I ended up spending a lot of time walking on the abandoned railroad, checking out the water melon fields, eating spicy spicy food, going to the county market, watching Hongkongnese martial arts tv series(I actually liked those those days) and we remain friends ever since.

    This is a really long one, I guess.

    Jean’s Reply:
    See, it is not so hard, is it? You are doing wonderfully. 🙂
    Writing for me is the best way of expressing myself. Often I don’t feel an experience is complete till i record it on paper.
    A friend’s friend was a funny writer. Her email often made me laugh out loud. So i couldn’t resist and set up a weblog on blogger for her, and started posting her letters there. Eventually she started posting her own entries.
    I like this comment of yours, too. Because you detailed the things you did with your “students”. Like spicy spicy food, watermelon fields, and HK martial arts tv series. Those details recorded a time and place. I think that’s the best part about weblog. People’s experiences are so varied. Daily lives are often fascinating when you can get the vivid details of someone else’ life.
    Keep it up! I don’t mind if you continue commenting here. Like what LK used to do in my guestbook. But i think once you become comfortable with your own written “voice”, you would probably want to start your own blog, and to share that voice with more people… I’ll be looking forward to that day…

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