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I can't help keeping comparing this movie with Farewell My Concubine, one of the best Chinese movies I have seen, which was also directed by you. Yes, having the same director, both tell us a story of Peking Opera singer(s), and both cover a turbulent era of certain decades during the twentieth century in China. I have to say, however, this one is disappointing, in many ways.
I have no doubt about your directing skills just by watching Farewell My Concubine. There, the roles were hysteria, and it's original, intensive, surprising, and thrilling. In Forever Enthralled, you tried to use the exactly same style, but unfortunately, it feels unnatural and overdone, as you were transfered from a brave pioneer to a boring follower of the previous yourself.
Like all types of arts, a real master piece can't be duplicated. Same as motion pictures. Farewell My Concubine is such a master piece that any mimicking trials afterwards, intentionally or not, turns out to fail, even though they are from the same director. There's nothing wrong to make another film of Peking Opera singers, but just don't use the same skill again and again.
Dear Screen Play Writers,
Did you realize the story is unbalanced? The first half of this film drags too long and the pace is way too slow, unnecessarily slow. I know you may want to emphasize Master Mei's earlier life experience that affected him so much, but the title of this film is not "The Teenager hood of Mei Lanfang".
Visiting the US actually was an important experience of Mei and also a great step to give him the opportunity to gain the international fame. However, your film made this part too weak. It's finished in such a hurry in the audiences' applause before I got a chance to focus on the singing of the leading actor. Is this a trick just because the actor couldn't perform the Opera well even though he is a pop singer? Check La Vie en Rose (2007) to see how a movie about a singer can make the singing magnificent.
Dear Ziyi Zhang,
I didn't see much improvement of your acting skills from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Not bad, but not good enough either. Yes I'm picky. But it has a long way to go before a actor/actress becomes a top one.
Dear Leon Lai,
Maybe they picked you for this role because you're a singer, but this role turned out to be too weak and too blurry. Maybe this is not your fault. They just didn't select the right person to act Master Mei. Imagine in the movie Dream Girls (2006): if Beyonce played Effie White, the situation would be insanely different.
Dear Honglei Sun,
I usually don't like those characters you played in the movie, but this one is an exception. Congratulations! You acted so well that I thought this movie should be called "The Story of Mei and His Brother Qiu". YOU ARE LITERALLY THE LEADING ACTOR. They didn't give enough chance to let Mei sing, but you got enough chance to act, and acted the best compared with others in this movie. In this movie, you were a super fan of Peking Opera and a super fan of Mei. You quit your staple teaching job and followed Mei to explore his career, felt happier about his every success than himself, worried him more than anybody else when he was in trouble, and helped him become a real master. Good job! Good for Brother Qiu, but not that good for this film, because this film is not supposed to only focus on Brother Qiu.
Sorry, frankly speaking, this movie is not enthralled.
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