My Week in Film (12/14 - 12/20)

Shaolin Soccer (2001)
(Directed by Stephen Chow)

Along with Ping Pong, the best sports movie ever.


Kung Fu Hustle (2004)*
(Directed by Stephen Chow)

Mr. Chow has a lot on his mind. Or, while this isn't as funny as Shaolin Soccer (that film's formula of soccer + ridiculous shit is pretty hard to beat), this probably has more going for it in that its direction is a lot more showy and stuff and its homages and genre pastiche are pretty awesome and that one pig sty place is as great a set for a movie as The Ladies Man dollhouse. Basically, I should watch The King of Comedy like today.


Steamboat Round The Bend (1935)
(Directed by John Ford)

Will Rogers is awesome. This should be understood before moving forward or before you do anything today, really. He's kind of magical in that sort of folksy way. Maybe he's just really fun to watch. Anyway, this film isn't as good as Judge Priest mainly because it limits Rogers too much to be himself and also cuz the Stepin Fetchit isn't as well done in this film which makes it a little more hard to take whereas in Judge Priest, he becomes really hilarious and you get to see how good he can be. Anyway, the film's sorta about Rogers buying himself a Steamboat and just relaxing and going down the river but then society has to get all up in his face and his nephew (?) gets charged with murder and he has to save him and there's a steamboat race and there's a floating wax museum filled with historical personages that's like a weird metaphor and there's The New Moses or something. It's fun stuff and at points the relationship between Rogers and his nephew's girl is very touching, but it never really rises above that. And I read Tag Gallagher's thing about it in his book and it doesn't match my experience with the film at all and that made me sad. I should watch more Ford though. I can tell he's one of the greatest. There was one more thing I wanted to say, but I forgot what it was. That's just how it goes. We live in darkness, the light is a dream.


Red Rose White Rose (1994)
(Directed by Stanley Kwan)

This is an adaptation of an Eileen Chang short story. I found this out after I watched the film although I had an inkling that it was based on a book of some sort about 5 minutes into the film. How did I know that? Well, the film uses direct text from the story for its voice-over and for these extremely annoying intertitles that as Tony Rayns puts it "Chang's tone of irony is essential to the story." He then goes on to compare the film to The Age of Innocence (link). Frankly, the first thing that came to my head when I watched the film was that I was watching a really low-rent version of either In The Mood For Love or 2046. Surprise, Doyle shot this film. The story follows a young man coming back from Edinburgh who wants to be an upright citizen and be successful and all that stuff. He's emblematic of what I guess Chinese men should want to strive for. Problem is: he's kind of a douche. He gets back from Edinburgh and stays with a pal and his wife. He notices that the wife likes to fuck around and through intertitles we are informed that he does not want to get involved in the affairs of husband and wife. What does he do? He fucks her. Only logical, right? Apparently, Chinese men are allowed two women in their lives. One is the red rose, a woman who is passionate and fun and gets the men all worked up. Joan Chen plays that woman and she does pretty well, I guess. But then she gets all serious on the dude (played with increasing coldness by Winston Chao, a cheap Tony Leung) and he's like "nah, that ain't me" and bails out. So, after the man has had his share of illicit fun, he settles down with a prim and proper "white rose." The next half of the film is basically about showing the emptiness and the coldness in that marriage. It's the half that worked the most for me as it basically was about the slow decaying of this dude's soul as it physically manifests itself through his wife. It's solid stuff and the douche factor of Winston Chao really pays off here. But, anyway, it's still not that great. And the "irony" of the text that Kwan was adapting probably could've been shown in a way that's less annoying. And, whatever, it's basically a Doyle jizzfest and it was as good as that can be with a subpar story.


Wake Up Sid (2009)
(Directed by Ayan Mukherjee)

If you can't tell, the book in the screencap is Norwegian Wood. So, yeah, the film kinda had me by that point. Sid is basically this spoiled kid who doesn't do anything. He can't cook, he can't wash his own clothes, he depends on his family for everything since his Dad is rich, and he's just an immature dude who does nothing and has no ambitions. The movie is about seeing him develop a passion for something, fall in love and, basically, be a better person. Basically, Sid needs to learn to be considerate to others, achieve a certain level of independence from his fathers, and learn to provide for himself. In a way, it's kind of silly the way that it's all trumped up - I mean, getting your first paycheck is cool and all, but there doesn't need to be a huge scene about it, right? Doesn't matter. I bought it. I bought the dumb relationships between characters, I bought the mess Sid makes at that one girl's apartment, I bought the endlessly cliched montages with acoustic guitar songs set over them. Maybe I was just in a good mood. I don't know. Sadly, there was no singing and dancing, but I got something else instead. Something that hit a little closer to home.


Extract (2009)
(Directed by Mike Judge)

It's okay. It doesn't inspire anything more than that. Well, Mila Kunis is really hot. Kristen Wiig is pretty good herself.


Jhon's Movie of the Week is... Shaolin Soccer

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