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Mei zhen (1994)
Sentimentally Manipulative, but Surprising Masterwork
May Jane, an uneducated but courageous country girl, escapes her destroyed farming village. She tries to lead a large band of orphans through the absurdity and violence of civil war (between Mao and Chiang Kai-Shek's KMT) to a ship that will bring them to safety from China in the 1940's. Extremely sentimental, brilliant, subtly rebellious cinema by the Taiwan/Hong Kong Director, who also wrote the exquisite music and intimately epic plot. Despite a number of terrific performances (including the gorgeous star, made-up to look ordinary) and sophisticated stunning cinematography, the film was unjustly dismissed by Taiwan critics, many of whom apparently harbored old antagonisms toward the director, as well as by both Hollywood-influenced young and patriotic old audiences (ending the composer/director's long successful career). This highly personal, uniquely old-fashioned and visionary film has many long sequences of superb artistry and sustained master filmmaking skill.
Harry's Law: American Dreams (2011)
American DREAMS is outstanding.
"American Dreams" on HARRY'S LAW is a truly great American script, whether for television or film. Speaking as a screenwriter/director and film professor, it is stunning work. The balancing of political and emotional POVs, using reason, pragmatism, philosophy, and raw emotions, is rare on TV, and was perfectly sustained in all three story lines (drama, romance, melodrama) for almost an hour. Sensitive inner performances from all the supporting and character actors matched the high level of the writing. Kathy Bates and Christopher McDonald were wrenchingly superb, even without words. Director Steve Robin's seemingly invisible direction allowed every dramatic point and character change to clearly shine. The show, and this episode in particular, are more than worthy of the next Emmys, Writer's Guild Awards, and if it were possible, Oscars. David E. Kelley has outdone himself, and deserves our deepest professional, artistic, and humanist respect.