October 10, 2004
Tonight, two satisfying films:
We just returned from Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers which is loads of fun despite a muddled ending. It's a better movie than Hero and should be a bigger hit. Zhang Ziyi was lovely as usual although she showed up before to greet the audience before the film in a cheesy bridge and tunnel outfit (once the movie started rolling it took a few minutes to mentally erase the tight pants and midriff... come to think of it I shouldn't use the bridge and tunnel pejorative since now we're part of that crowd!). Flying Daggers has several great set pieces one the one in the forest is pure giddy action sure to set the bar for quite a quile... I'm sure it is only a matter of time before we see half baked imitations this scene American movies. I should note Jenn hated the film deeming it cheesy... but she was also sleepy and not feeling well.
Ultimately more satisfying was the first movie we saw, a Korean film Woman is the Future of Man by Hong Sangsoo. This film felt revelatory both for it's frank sexual themes and portrayal of Korean urban life. The story is simple. Two old friends meet in a restaurant and begin remembering the intense relationships each of them had with the same woman. They seek the woman out to see what's happened to her (and perhaps searching for closure)... Of course they find her and of course things quickly get even more confused. The filmmaking is top notch, funny and melancholy, and reminded me at various times of Kieslowski and Antonioni... but really it was it's own thing. The soft spoken filmmaker was verbally attacked by several audience members afterwards. In general they thought the film was sexist. One girl said she wanted to "kill the director". I think the people speaking were confusing the culture the film portrays with the filmmaker himself. If anything the film was not reveling in sexist attitudes, but was showing how alienating and shallow certain aspects of male behavior can be and using that behavior to illuminate larger truths...