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Qian li zou dan qi (2005)
a feel good movie
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, directed by Yimou Zhang and co-directed with Yasuo Furuhata, left me feeling a little sad and at the same time inspired by the fathers persistence.
It was very interesting to see the similarities and differences of the Japanese and Chinese cultures side by side as the story intertwined the two. I, myself being married into a first generation Chinese family here in America; I found it fascinating how the Chinese culture was depicted as being more open, warm and caring for the foreigner. I did not always find it easy to communicate with my father-in-law, not due to the language barrier, but more because females typically do not join the conversations.
The emotional struggles that Takata, the father, overcomes to bring himself to visit his ailing son in the hospital, is a turmoil none of us should have to go through, but because of this thing called pride, it happens time and time again. Pride often has us wait until it is almost too late or is too late to make amends with a family member or friend. Takata realizes this and in his quest to fulfill his son's wishes, tries to reunite another father and son, so they do not go down the same path he is traveling.
It is a very touching story that I would highly recommend to those who want to see family values through the eyes of another culture. It makes you reflect on your own conduct towards family and friends and to determine for yourself if amends need to be made.
Le fantôme de la liberté (1974)
Reality is what we want it to be.
The Phantom of Liberty, directed by Luis Bunuel is a very surreal and entertaining film. It reminds me actually of a Willy Wonka type film, to say if you can conjure up something in your conscious, whether it be during our waking hours or when we are dreaming, then it can be reality. Reality is what we want it to be. The film ask us to reassess our morals, viewpoints and our self imposed rules of right and wrong, "what is freedom?" and how should it be determined? Without giving any of the story away, let me say I loved the flow of the film and how none of the story lines really pertained to the others and yet by chance the sequence of them tied together. Just as each of us as individuals have our own events happening throughout the day, but then for a moment as you are reading this we are brought together.
Idi i smotri (1985)
childhood stripped away
Come and See, directed by Elem Klimov was one of the most depressing films I have ever watched and a must see for anyone thinking war is the answer. It was commissioned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Soviets over Germany during WWII. It is amazingly done as it assaults all of your senses and leaves you feeling angry, ashamed and depressed.
You can see the fear in and all around Florya, the boy who was recruited for the war, to fight alongside the Soviets against Germany. You hear the intensity of the bombs exploding next to Florya and understand why he suffers loss of hearing. You taste the grit in his mouth when he stumbles and falls into the mud and feel the cold seep through his bones as he and Glasha maneuver through the swamp. You smell the stench of the burning acid and flesh in the air when the Germans burn the captives and your heart breaks for the Mother, whose child is tossed back into the building and she is then brutally raped. Only at the end do you feel a little sense of justice when Florya shoots the picture of Hitler.
As the film plays, the feeling of angry surfaces just for the mere fact of the injustice of war and sending children to fight as men and women for the sack of survival. The shame of living in a country, the United States, that clams to welcome and accept all to the land of "equal" opportunity and freedom, while we go (no better than those before us) to other countries and try to impose our democracy on them, killing innocent people as we go. When the film comes to a close you are left depressed at seeing this once fun loving boy, aged and reduced to a trance like state in a matter of a short time, knowing his childhood has been stripped away and is gone forever.
La otra conquista (1998)
injustice of a ruler
La Otra Conquista is a beautifully done film that has touched emotions in me that have been dormant for a number of years. It has renewed my passion for studying and learning more about the Latin American culture. I am especially interested in learning more about the injustice of the native people by the conquistadors and why even today that injustice lives on. I have never been prejudice in my life and find it very difficult to understand why people of any race, religion or belief find it necessary to impose their views and morals on others.
The director, Salvador Carrasco, has brought to life a part of history that has traditionally been told very one-sided. The story is typically told through the colonial version, where conquering and converting these Aztec savages is depicted as a great victory for mankind. In essence these people were stripped of all that they had; their lands, their homes, their families, their traditions, their Gods, their riches and in one of the biggest genocides ever their lives. Carrasco shares how even if a ruler believes he has succeeded at his mission, it takes more than just imposing ones beliefs on a people to destroy their spirit, through the courageous acts of Toplitzin and his sister Tecuichpo, we see this spirit prevail.
Without telling any more of the story, I encourage all to see it, if not for the story itself, then for the sheer beauty of it. It is filmed on location in Mexico and the sets and costumes are based on authentic Aztec products of the 16th century. I believe this film should be made a mandatory screening for all high school world history students throughout the nation.
Moznosti dialogu (1983)
interesting twist on dialogue
Dimensions of Dialogue, directed by Jan Svankmajer is a very interesting and amazing film. It is so creative and I can only imagine the hours it took to set up each frame. It is created during the year's right after WWII, an era where a director had to be very careful of the content of his or her film because it could cost them their life. The film is comprised of three different shorts each depicting a form of communication to be interpreted by the viewer as to their thoughts and feelings.
I am not sure how I interpret the fist one, which shows fruit devouring and regurgitating fruit turning into kitchen utensils doing the same thing and ending with writing paraphernalia repeating the process. My original thoughts were of progression; things that do not last very long, the fruit, to things that can be around for a time, but eventually rust or break, the utensils, to the written word, which if allowed to, can be around for hundreds of years.
The second short probably touched me more than the other two because of the way I interpreted it. It shows two clay figures, man and woman, and how at first are reluctant or hesitant of each other and then become passionate. As a consequence of this passion a third thing is created and how they deal or don't deal with it is so true of many humans today. The thought is not always there of the outcome nor having the mind to rule the will of desire strong enough to accept what has happened. The third depiction was in my opinion, a play on politics where you had these two heads more or less competing to see who could out maneuver the other. At first things seemed to be interchangeable but it became apparent that each had its' own individuality.
Over all it was a very interesting concept with just the score and the pictures as the dialogue and each viewer to interpret as they will.
Incredible story telling!
The wrap up of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the Return of the King was amazing. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens kept very close to the stories as written my J.R.R. Tolkien or at least as close as they could, to do the 1,000 plus pages justice. Of course in some instances the order had to be altered so the movies would flow nicely and fit within a reasonable theater time frame. Personally, I can't wait for the extended version of the Return of the King to come out so I can have an all day Ring review. The story is a very good one and one I wish our society would pay more attention to. This movie deserved all of the nominations it has received from the academy and very much deserves to win the Oscar for best picture, best director, and best visual effects. Anything else will just be icing on the cake. A superb job was done by the entire cast and crew.