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The Garden of Evening Mists (2019)
Ambitious but too "theme-first"
In the first half of the film, the scars of World War II are mentioned by the scenes of hanging, rape, and blasting. The Cold War conflicts are also presented then. The history background is well expressed then. The sex scene of the women from the victimized country and the men from the aggressive country is very different from the films I've seen. It can be recorded in the film history.
As a multi-language film, it is arranged harmoniously. I can understand why the director (from Taiwan) chose Cantonese among the Chinese dialects used by Malaysian Chinese, because the others (Minnan, Hakka) are very common in Taiwan.
Sylvia Chang performed persuasively the roles from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China or Southeast Asia. No other actors at the same age can surpass her.
There are lot of advantages in the movie but the disadvantage are also significant.
Nakamura, the male Protagonist, is more complicated than the Japanese army of "The Girl Who Played Go", "City of Life and Death" or "Mei Lanfang". Although it is known that the main axis of Japanese gardens is deliberately creating conflicts between the heroine and her lover, it is suspected that the Malaysian Chinese in the era could be so fascinated by Japanese gardening or tattoos? Before the war, the group donated to the invaded mother country actively (The Japanese invaded China in 1937 and Malaya was occupied by them in December 1941). Maybe they yearn Chinese Gardening more? (I thought of Chang Dai-chien who became an overseas Chinese after civil war, tried hard to build a garden in Brazil.). The beginning scenes of the tea farm on the mountains is amazing, but the place that tea trees grow must have a very humid climate. Thirty years later, the situation of papers and the wooden house must be terrible.
Maybe above reasons bother me. Maybe the past scenes are too fragmented. I feel that this historical drama is too "theme-first". Instead of trying to piece contemporary imaginations together into reality, I prefer the film illusions built with many historical sources.
Ren jian si yue tian (2000)
It is a historical drama based on true stories. Hui-Ling Wang's script is very exquisite. Love words are not only moving but also use the early-20th-century grammers and vocabularies! Therefore, the dialoges became buzzwords in Taiwan after prodcasting, "Huihui, promise me a future!" Besides, it is not a monodrama of the famous poet Xu. Three women, Chang, Lin And Lu, express feelings in their own way. For example, the sad wife Chang said to her negative husband, "You ask freedom to who without freedom? The freedom you want, I can't help." Smart Lin said to her fiance whose foot became lame in a car crash, "The left foot is not the brilliant part of you."
All the sentences like clothes fitting to the characters. All the actors performance naturally just like living in the era. Those factors made the drama classical.
Sheng si jie (2005)
Unpleasant but real
An unpleasant but real story about a deceived and desperate mother. Grey tone fills up the screen. The basement scene is very impressive. It is the fourth cooperation on Screen of Wu Jun and Zhou Xun: April Rhapsody, The Colour of Money and Comprador Family (They both worked in Palace of Desire but didn't meet in an act). They were in the same agency at that time. However, every performance of the duo never looks the same.
Daniel Deronda (2002)
Amazing work with the photography, the costumes & the heroine.
Another adaptation from George Elliot's novel without a happy ending. Photography and costumes are great. Especially the starting scene from the overlooking Gambling Table to the heroine looking back. Two main male cast (Hugh Dancy & Hugh Bonneville) were getting hot on TV screen several years after. However, the most astonishing performance is from 19-year-old Romola Garai. She is not only a good horse rider wearing heavy & tight 19th-century costumes but also really shows a woman's struggles between love and economic circumstances, from a confident girl to a regret wife, and a woman affording whole family at last. Gwendolen is not a character easy to win audiences' compassion, but she did it.