Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ba wang bie ji (Farewell My Concubine) (1993)

Today's film is Farewell My Concubine.  It is sort of misleading because the poster features a woman, but the concubine character is really a man.  It is mostly about a friendship, but somehow fits an entire history of China in there as well.

So it starts off a long time ago in a Chinese opera school for boys.  I thought opera meant singing but this is some hard core acrobatics circus/kung fu training area and I'm not entirely sure how that helps them sing.  Two of the students grow up together and remain friends their entire lives.

The first one is Douzi, who is small and therefore thrust into more feminine roles.  His friend is Shitou, who gets to have all the masculine roles.  As they grow older, they get really good at the parts of the concubine and the king in the opera "Farewell My Concubine".

Now that they've become adults, they change their names into equally hard to spell Chinese names.  Like I just learned your names and now you're going to change them.  Douzi becomes Cheng Dieyi and Shitou becomes Duan Xiaolou.  Dieyi nows becomes a flawless expert with his makeup and fully embraces his feminine role.

Meanwhile, Xiaolou marries a former prostitute.  Since Dieyi has had a crush on him for years, he gets insanely jealous and threatens to quit performing with him.  Eventually they do make up though.
It's easy to feel bad for Dieyi because people have always tried to change him to fit their own agenda.  His own mom cut off his extra finger so he could go to secret opera ninja training camp.  Then, he is forced to play lady's roles from childhood on which messed his own sexual views about himself and everyone around him.  His friend knows that he has feelings for him, but he'd rather marry a hooker.  Even his creepy sugar daddy makes him drink turtle blood or some other magic shit to help his voice.  He doesn't have a choice in any of this stuff.

Meanwhile, the country of China changes as the Communists take over.  The opera people don't mind this as long as they get to keep performing.  It is interesting to see how much China changed throughout the beginning of the twentieth century, but the movie never presents it as a history lesson.  The final scene shows them as old men, still doing the same roles they've always done.  Dieyi uses this opportunity to kill himself during the performance.  And I'm like, why?  You're old.  Just die of old age.  It was a good movie, but it had a stupid ending so I will give it a 8/10.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Deadpool (2016)

Today's film is Deadpool!  I have read many comics about him and have been looking forward to this movie for a long time.  The film is a lot like the comics - funny, very violent, and with many breaks of the fourth wall.

The film shows the origin story, of how Wade Wilson became Deadpool.  He has a girlfriend, who he thinks is hot, but honestly she looks like Michael Jackson to me.  When his powers of healing activate, it spreads his cancer and makes him look rather ugly.   He is ashamed of his looks and hids away from his girlfriend.

He tracks down the people who changed him in order for them to fix his ugliness.  He enlists the help of two X-Men.  "It's almost as if the studio couldn't afford any more", he whines.  He does end up finding the people and they have an epic violent battle, but he has to reveal himself to his girlfriend.  Will she accept him?  I don't see why not, Deadpool is epic.  It's not a serious action Marvel film, it' very funny.  Deadpool's constant breaking of the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience is hilarious.  He often comments about the film itself and the actors in it, as if he's completely aware he is just a character.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) (1962)

Waiting on a medical test is one of the worst things ever.  It makes your anxiety go up like 1000%.  Even if it turns out to be negative, it's the anticipation and the not knowing that makes it so bad.  Especially when it takes a few days, that makes it even worse!

Today's film is Cleo from 5 to 7, and it's simply about a lady waiting for results for her medical test.  This will determine whether or not she has cancer.  She is worried about having terminal cancer and is a nervous wreck.  What is worse is that today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, but it feels even longer for her.

Cleo can be a bit melodramatic.  Believing she is dying, she buys a black hat and generally annoys her friends.  But she just needs someone to listen to her.  She finds that with Antoine, a soldier on leave from Algeria.  He has to go back to the war soon.  They talk about going to war and having cancer, and it makes Cleo feel better.  Antoine offers to go to the hospital with her.  It turns out Cleo does have cancer, but it's treatable and the doctor already has a treatment plan in mind.  Cleo feels a lot better about her situation.  Even though it's not exactly the best result, the horrible feeling of not knowing is over.

The problem I have with this film is that if it's called Cleo from 5 to 7, shouldn't it be in real time?  It's only like 90 minutes long.  That is kind of disappointing.  Also, the editing of the film is sloppy and distracting.  I didn't like it.  Other than that the film itself is okay.  I will give it a 7/10.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mon Oncle (1958)

Today's film is Mon Oncle (My Uncle).  It is another film featuring Jacques Tati's character Mr. Hulot.  The central theme of all Jacques Tati's film is that modern life is too complicated and frustrating.  The modern world is also cold and impersonal, too plasticky.

This film focuses on Mr. Hulot, and the fact he seems to have no job.  We also never see him eat and he always stays clean.  Is Mr. Hulot a robot?  Is that why he hardly talks?

Mr. Hulot's sister and brother-in-law may see him as a loser, but their son, Gerard is very fond of him, because he's a fun guy.  Gerard lives in a sterile, modern house that feels boring, and his fun uncle is a break from that.

 Mr. Hulot's sister, Mrs. Arpel, has a mission to get her brother a job as she feels it will be good for him.  I think Mr. Hulot's main problem is that he has no spatial awareness. That could be a flaw in his programming.

Gerard and his friends like to pull pranks on unsuspecting adults and fool them.  Kids back then were just like kids are today.  People like to think kids today are bad because society is worse, or "rap culture" makes them bad, but these kids in the film are no different.  Kids throughout history have always been little shits.

Their pranks remind me of my husband's favorite game.  There is a place here that you can sample different sodas.  One is a terribly bitter soda.  It's actually meant to be a palate cleanser, not a soda to gulp as a snack.  His favorite pasttime is tricking unsuspecting people to take a huge sip of this soda.  Their faces are priceless after drinking it.

One thing that confuses me about this film is the weather.  Some people are wearing big coats, while others are wearing sundresses.  Well is it hot or cold in France? I don't know.

Shout out to Mr. Arpel for doing everything he can to secure employment for his brother-in-law.  He doesn't do it for himself, and he definitely doesn't do it for Hulot, who he sees as a constant fuck-up.  He does it because he knows it will make his wife happy, and he loves his wife very much.

Mr. Hulot's lack of spatial awareness in a factory where people and machines depend on him is a recipe for disaster.  He can't pay attention to anything and climbs on things like a monkey.  Then, he single-handedly destroys about 300 feet of plastic tubing, which can't be cheap.

Mr. Arpel doesn't give up and offers him job after job.  Millions of jobless college graduates dream of being in Hulot's position.  But instead of being grateful, he just continues to fuck everything up.  Finally, Mr. Arpel has the great idea to ship him somewhere else, so the last scene is him dropping off Hulot at the airport.

This film is amusing, but it's not hilarious.  I will give it a 7/10.