Tag Archive for 'movies'

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Thoughts on Curse of the Golden Flower

I finally made it over to Cinemapolis on the Commons last week. Joe and I saw Curse of the Golden Flower there. The movie is set during the Tang dynasty in the late 10th century in China. Without giving away too much about the movie, I will say that it reminded me very much of a Chinese version of The Lion in Winter, which is one of my all-time favorite films. The difference, of course, is that there is a great deal more action in Curse of the Golden Flower–most likely because it is not based on a play. Incidentally, some of the musical themes reminded me of The Lion in Winter, too.

I think, for me, the most stunning aspect of the movie was the visuals. Almost the entire movie takes place in the Imperial City, and, while I can in no way claim to be an expert on medieval China, I was surprised by the color and decadence of the palace. Even the vast armies (and I do think that word is appropriate) of servants in the palace were respectably dressed, and the Imperial family themselves wore finery that King Louis would have envied eight-hundred years later. My basic conclusion was that Versailles in its heyday would have been given a serious run for its money. (As an aside: armor, swords, weapons, ninjas falling from the sky, yay!)

Although servants were not featured prominently in the film, they were one of the things that stuck out to me the most. The opening shots of the movie involve hundreds of young female servants getting up and dressing themselves for the day in a highly ritualized manner. The sheer numbers of servants that managed to appear almost out of nowhere throughout the film were astounding. (In case you couldn’t guess, having a visual representation of the sheer power the Emperor wielded made a big impression on me. I think, somehow, that Western historical films are somewhat lacking in that oh-my-God-what-an-overwhelming-number-of-people-at-one’s-command department, and I’m not sure whether that’s a reflection on differences between feudal/ancient power in the East and the West or simply the emphasis placed on such things in the movies.)

The acting was quite good, too, in my opinion. I found Gong Li’s performance as the ailing Empress to be particularly impressive. As Joe commented after the film, there were several points at which she almost seemed to be channeling Meryl Streep. And anyone who’s watched Streep in Sophie’s Choice knows she’s not a bad person to be channeling in a dramatic role.

Overall, I felt like the movie was well-worth the ticket, and I would recommend seeing it if you get the chance to. As for me, I’m now eagerly awaiting the premiere of Pan’s Labyrinth at Cinemapolis. Fairy tales come to life? Yes, please!

Gnomicons Update 29 July 2006

It seems that the way to get me to make icons again is to post some lovely photos from David Cleary. These icons are all from his photos and include stills from the new independent film “Once” by John Carney and assorted photos of The Frames from over the years. Enjoy!

Continue reading ‘Gnomicons Update 29 July 2006’

Neil Gaiman

Well, it’s official now. Having seen Mirrormask and just finished reading Neverwhere, I am now a fan. I now applaud my decision to buy American Gods at the same time as Neverwhere, and my goal is to prevent myself from picking up the book until it’s time to fly back to Cleveland. I suspect that having a nice big novel to accompany me across the eastern half of the U.S. will make the day much more enjoyable.

In the meantime, I’m chewing over an idea for a longer writing-related post later.

Speaking of writing, should story excerpts suddenly appear here in quick succession there is no need for alarm. The blog has not been hijacked. It simply means that I’m getting closer to being finished with redesigning S-S.N.