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Relationship in the Book Overshadowed by 21st Century Story
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a beautifully written book by Lisa See; it tells the fictional story of two women, bound together since childhood as laotong, or old sames. The laotong relationship is a life- long relationship between women, often with similar birthdays, horoscopes, or other social or biological markers; and was often revered higher than a marriage. They communicate with each other, across time and distance, on fans on which they write their special women's language, nu shu. Nu shu is a complex language, where context is paramount, and is reserved for women only.
See's book details the life of two girls, Snow Flower a daughter of a formerly-well-to-do family whose grandfather was an Imperial Scholar, and Lily, whose family is of a middle class caste. They share their life experiences including the painful process of foot binding, mothers who push for good marriages, and the struggles that each encounter once they are married, even war comes to their area. Throughout their lives there is tension, both beautiful and awful until a misunderstanding severs their bond for several years.
Wayne Wang once again fills the screen with a great caste, wonderful scenery, and subtle emotion. But here is where the film adaptation fails. The beautiful and tragic story by Lisa See is eclipsed by a contemporary story line created to follow the lives of 2 friends in modern day Shanghai: Nina, a go getter who is very ambitious, and Sophia, a Chinese Korean who has struggled with her mother's death, her father's subsequent remarriage to a shrew, and her father's untimely death. **SPOILER** It is suggested that Sophia is descended from Snow Flower, and has the fans that the women had shared throughout their life together. There is too much focus on the contemporary characters, which are created solely for this film. The tension and strife that Snow Flower and Lily faced throughout their lives is gone, and events are extremely telescoped. As women of different classes in 19th century China, their fates were bound to their marriages, and their own relationship was shaped by their relationships with their mothers (but whose isn't?). This is lost in the film.
Wayne Wang does a beautiful script, but attention to the original story would have done this film more justice.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Excellent...I have a craving for CAKE now!
The only thing "wrong" about this film is that there is no time measurement, especially since I suspect that many are unfamiliar with the time line of historical events--and I wish there had been more identification of Marie Antoinette's entourage and clique...
NOW....Sofia Coppola's biopic of Marie Antoinette is wonderful! It follows the young dauphine and queen of France from about the age of 14 until her late 20s when she is captured during the Revolution. It demonstrates Marie Antoinette's isolated life, she is living in a royal cocoon and how she carefully navigates the precarious French court at Versailles.
Kirsten Dunst does well in her portrayal of the young queen as she deals with an unconsummated marriage (for seven years); the pressures of needing to deliver an heir; and how her marriage-bed relations could ultimately effect the delicate alliances between France and Austria. Her spending is extravagant but so is her unique situations.
Filmed mostly on location in Versailles, it is BEAUTIFULLY done--the costumes are wonderful! I was worried about the "modern" soundtrack but that was not overpowering and it was well timed. Check out the recent PBS documentary--it rocks! Enjoy!
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Awful, Confusing, and a Waste
I was excited to see this movie because one of my favorite genres is true-crime. When I heard about the making of this movie I refreshed myself with the case in all of its gruesome details. I saw this movie a few weeks after it opened....I should have known better when my friend and I were the ONLY people in the theater.....*crickets chirping*.....
I admit I had not read the book this "film" is based on and perhaps if I had I would not have been so disappointed, angry, or confused. The movie is based on the "memoirs" of one of the detectives, and as a historian I take memoirs with a grain of kosher salt. This film is based 95% on the lives of the detectives and their menage-a-tois with a wooden acting Scarlett Johanssen....she may look like a 40s actress but she certainly does not act like one....
Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart are laughable....I could not tell if Eckhart's "Lee" was a dirty cop or just had a "Huggy Bear" connection on the street....There were WAY TOO MANY story arcs going on that culminate in a crazy X-Files-CSI-writers were on crack when they wrote this-ending.....
In a nutshell...I did not like it....they could have made a great film about the CASE and the personality of Elizabeth Short instead of two cops battling over a chick....Do not waste your money....run I tell ye! The only reason this did not get the "awful" rating was because Rose McGowan was in this film, albeit for a few moments, but she is awesome.....
Return to Oz (1985)
A family fave for over 20 years!
I first saw this movie taped from the Disney Channel back in 1985 and while it scared the bejeezus out of my sister and I, ages 7 and 5, I have loved this movie from day 1. The story begins approximately six months after the tornado hits; Dorothy has trouble sleeping so Aunt Em takes her to a doctor to "rid her of her dreams" of a place that "doesn't exist." With the help of a mysterious girl, Dorothy escapes from the hospital during a thunderstorm and is swept away by the nearby raging river. She awakens on the shores of OZ with her beloved chicken, Billina, and they set off to find the Emerald City. The yellow-brick road is destroyed, the city is silent and crumbling with its residents all turned to stone. With the help of new friends, Tik-Tok, Jack, and the Gump, Dorothy outsmarts the freaky Wheelers and a frightening Princess Mombi to square off with the Nome King who daintily displays the ruby slippers on his own feet. In the end OZ returns to its former glory with new leader. This movie certainly begs the viewer to think about OZ more critically and why Dorothy uses it as a place of mental escape.
After reading the "I Hated It" user comments of this movie it reminded me of the plethora of comments from 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vs. its 1971 predecessor. The bulk of comments for "RTZ" revolved around how everything looked different from 1939, how Dorothy was suddenly 10 yrs old, etc...first, DO NOT take the 1939 movie as gospel; it strayed severely from Baum's original work. This work however uses William Denslow's illustrations in the original classics to depict the Tin Man and lion, especially. How many of those "I Hated It" people realize Baum wrote more than ONE OZ book??? Return to Oz is NOT a sequel to MGM's 1939 movie and should NEVER be treated as such. It is another interpretation of Baum's books; new director, new studio, new actors, etc... Just like Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" should NOT be considered a remake of the 1971 "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" it too is a reinterpretation of the same book. Get over it people.
I love this movie, but because it's pretty graphic and hardly sugar-coated some kids may be terrified by its images, but kids that can handle The Dark Crystal should be fine with this one!
Where did he get that stuff??
One of the first things he says in the premiere is that he is waiting for his stuff from NY.....Then it shows up...NOTHING from the old set is there....not even the DOG which we know "Monica" would NOT have let "Chandler" keep in the new house....NO yellow leather sofa, NOT EVEN Joey's tricked-out recliner that he loved to death! The only visible icon is the damn Magna-Doodle...BFD! The apartment itself is very 70s-vogue but where is the familiarity of Friends and his past life? I get it that they are probably trying to separate from Friends a bit, but come on!! No DOG??? Not to mention the fact that they did not set Joey's move up in the (LAME) series finale back in May...They could have at LEAST done a phone call from LA and the audience knowing that Joey would be leaving (since word got out by then about this new sitcom) even if the 'Friends' did not know....But so far I love Drea de Matteo and Paul C....they rock and it seems to be a good show, the premiere was hilarious, first Dallas and then "I'm NAME"!! tee hee...but the lack of familiar set was a kind of turn off at the beginning, one my sister and I cant quite get over! But oh well...its funny...
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Some Spoilers, beware! And, it's a tad confusing!
Having never seen the original, as many recommended, I have nothing to compare this movie to. First of all, when I first saw trailers for this at other movies, all it showed was Nicole Kidman stroking a black Mercedes. Anyways. Second of all, the movie itself was good, the cast was obviously having a great time acting out their roles, especially Glenn Close. The director/editor dropped clues along the way hinting that these women were robot doubles so I figured the women were elsewhere, either dead, sedated or just trapped at the Men's Association house. Several hints were dropped including: Faith Hill's amazing twirls while square dancing, Bette Midler's hand burning on the stove, Faith Hill on the stairs going forwards and reverse when Kidman and Midler are playing with her "remote", the ATM dispensing blonde, and Kidman's robot double lying naked on the table. Then, at the end when Broderick starts "erasing" their microchips in the basement, they are magically deprogrammed and appear to remember everything, that does not sound too robotic. Yet, Walken, in the "commerical" for your own Stepford Wife, explains how the women are implanted with microchips, yet they are basically the same person, just fine tuned. But in the end, I was wondering, well are they women with microchips or robots?? It was never explained!!! But, overall it was funny with an underlying "men-suck" overture. 5 Stars.