Saturday, October 15, 2011

A night of celebrating international woman power


Being all alone yesterday night, after one week of familial semi-claustrophobism ( we were testing out or new camper), was the perfect opportunity to go through my never ending stacks of yet unseen DVDs - many of them borrowed from various people - and eventually what started out as a not-at-all choosy night of light entertainment, turned into a legendary night of exotic power women. 

There are people saying one should start a film night with the "toughest", most demanding films, in order to not expect your sleepy brain to handle things it physically won't be able to handle at 2 AM. Other voices tell you not to commit the sinful act of a triple (or even more) film night. I didn't listen to anyone this time - and let me tell you, it was the best film experience I've had since being spellbound by THE TREE OF LIFE last month.

For an hors d'oeuvre I had the spicy 2010 Hindi flop MIRCH, a film highly anticipated by me for its promising story and the first-class indie ensemble cast (Raima Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma etc.), which straightened out the fact that writer-director Vinay Shukla's previous films have passed me unnoticed except for that little trash pearl RAM JAANE. The film revolves around an ambitious yet unsuccessful screenplay-writer, who finally meets an opportunity to get his foot inside Bollywood. Not with his original, extremely dark screenplay he's been working on for two years, rather than a film consisting of four witty stories about female sexuality and cunning, based upon an old hinduistic Holy Scripture. The two stories that take place in an ancient period are brilliantly narrated and spot-on, however the last two that are situated in a "modern, urban society" fail through being over-long, rather incomprehensible and simply lacking the fast-paced, playful humour of the first ones. The two "connecting stories" - firstly the one that our main character, the screenplay-writer, imagines for his film, and secondly his story, the one that is supposed to connect this whole film - are the weakest part of the film. And as you know, one can't build a decent house if the fundament is unstable, which is why MIRCH is not as good as it could have been. Ironically, I'm sure that a stronger male lead would've been able to take this piece to a higher level and thus helped spreading the film's basic message of gender equality. However, I will still recommend this film for its fantastic female performances and because it's easy to watch. 

A short walk with the dog, and back to the home cinema for my main course WO HU CANG LONG, better known as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. The 2000 Taiwanese-Chinese-Hong Kong-American co-production, exactly speaking, is in all probability the most famous Chinese, I even dare say Asian, film in the western hemisphere. I personally take big interest in (East-)Asian culture, since I've been a fan of Manga (Japanese comics) forever, roughly, and martial arts have also fascinated me for a long time due to their surprising similarity to the sports I practice, namely ballet.
The fine line between reality and fantasy is blurry in this period epic, in which people following the art of Wudang are able to run up walls and fly around in trees better than the most skilled monkeys. At first this irritated me, but it eventually adds up to the magic, and transforms this film into more of a myth or an exotic fairytale. As in every fairytale, the feelings of the characters, no matter what they are, are almost exaggeratedly strong - when Dark Cloud steals Jen's jade comb, she spends days trying to get it back. And when the love between those two arises, it is strong and immortal from the very first kiss and on, forever. Beautifully, this shows us a glimpse of true love, may it be tragic and painful however. WO HU CANG LONG is not an entirely feministic film, of course, but there are various references more or less hidden in it, adding up to a beautiful, majestic epic of a film that will stay in your memory for all time. 

Finishing it off with a dark, sweet-spicy dessert; VOLVER, a Spanish crime-dramedy anno 2006. 
Admittedly, I tried to become more familiar with fast spoken Español by watching this film, but it was never my main intention. I was much more interested in finally getting to know this Almodóvar, though picture of Penelope Cruz holding a blood-smuthered knife was quite intriguing as well. Let me warn you; you'll be shocked from the very start and throughout the whole film, but if you like that, and if you like black humour and Spain, you're going to love VOLVER. Penelope Cruz sparkles more than I've seen her sparkle before (note: I haven't seen many of her films... but still), however she never outshines the number one (here it is again) ensemble cast of fresh Spanish faces I've never seen before. I was wondering whether she's always had a bum as voluminous as that one - well, according to wikipedia, Almodóvar padded it out. That would make sense. VOLVER is extremely feministic and often hostile toward men, but that doesn't make me feel men won't like it either. It's one of those fascinating films that blend a serious message into filmic entertainment without exaggerating neither of the two. Light but satiable. 

So, if you're still looking for the perfect filmic menu to let your Saturday Night Fever arise, trust me and try out this one. Cheers!


  1. Love, love, love this post!

    And so glad that you watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. One of my favs!

    Haven't been round the blogsphere due to work and stuff over the last month or so, so I haven't been visiting blogs as much as I would have liked, so just to say I LOVE your new layout.

  2. That menu card was fun, ha ha ( :

    I remember CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, visually stunning, how did they run up walls I never understood, impressed! Oscar wins made me watch it few years ago. Although did seem like they were showing-off a bit the tricks sometimes, where it didn't really move the story forward,

    There was a similar girl power post recently, here's the link:

    Will take a look at your IMDB list!

  3. I love that menu too. Very nice touch! Also that new finished header is excellent, great job!

    About WO HU CANG LONG, superhuman feats like running on walls, and jumping around treetops are an expected part of this style of Chinese movies. Sort of like how normal it is for the cast to spontaneously break into song and dance in a Bollywood film.

    I loved VOLVER too, it's such a twisted gem of a film and Penelope Cruz had my vote for the Oscar that year

  4. Cherokee - I know, actually I was inspired by your list of favorite films, where I remember the film was ranked quite high. Thank you for your kind words!

    Chris - Oh, yes, I decided to publish my IMDB ratings list on the blog... I've rated about every film I remember having watched some time or another, and most recently also the Indian ones. I only started watching and really following the Oscars two years ago, but I had heard this film was rather famous.

    Bonjour Tristesse - Ah... nice explanation, thank you. It makes much more sense to me now. Well, I did sense that it was like a "normal" thing in these films, but as I haven't watched that many martial arts films, I wasn't sure. It is an entertaining feature, I think.
    Thank you for your kind words, too :).

  5. You missed the Telugu film Arundhati.

    1. What do you mean I missed it? I actually saw it, just not that night.


Let the discussion begin!