Weekly movie roundup; not many, but good.
(Sam Raimi, US 2000) B+
Not much too add, really. One of those rare attempts at a big blockbuster with a heart. (When was the last one? MiB
?) Finds the balance between comic book cheesiness and taking that just seriously enough. Raimi, as expected, finds just the right mixture of movement, humour and adolescent spirit. No Darkman
, but pretty high for all-family entertainment.
(Manmohan Desai, India 1982) A-
Probably my favourite Bollywood film so far: Desai is clearly nothing more than an inspired hack, but as he keeps trying fro Scorsese-intensity, that merges pretty well in jazzing up the epic Bollywood format (slightly over 180 mins). Hindi megastar Amitabh Bachhan in a double role as patriotic father and no-good son, in one part sporting glasses that should be tracked down and obliterated for setting unreachable standards in incredibility/ridicule. Supporting cast (Shammi Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Amjad Khan etc.) and song department up to the task: highfalutin escapism.
The Chinese Feast (Tsui Hark, HK 1994) B
A master cook is in the middle of a contest when he hears the news his wife is dying. He hesitates, quits and arrives too late to see her alive. Despite this traumatizing beginning, the film delves quickly into comedy territory, with the old master being resurrected after a self-imposed hiatus to help an apprentice in another cooking contest. Pretty forgettable do-gooder-jokesterism with occasional highlights abounds, but is helped infinitely by Tsui´s staging of the cooking battles as quick and amazing as martial arts. Fast.
The Untold Story (Hermann Yau, HK 1993) B
Not really a good film with Yau delivering all the polish and inconstency of an early Van Dammme vehicle, this incredibly violent police procedural follows the exploits of the notorious Macao Bunman
(occasional alternative title), who, exiling Hongkong after a murder, kills his way to the top of a restaurant and a little further and disposes of the evidence via delicious meat buns. Quintessential exploitation sillness, navigating between sober bloodlust, flat-out-stupidity and an intense craving for man´s meanest instincts. Anthony Wong stars in a role beyond: he triumphs with some kind of method ham eccentricity that deservedly brought him the HK Actor award (impossible in any other country for a movie like this, remember to suppress giggles when the thought arises during a particularly gruesome scene). For all its joyless wallowing in blood (one possibly indelible image: one of Wong´s victims, struck down with the top of a broken bottle in his neck, emanates gushes of blood through the bottleneck as if some drunk might spill red wine on a white tablecloth) a pretty nihilistic affair: after establishing its hero as a raving maniac, he´s almost turned into a martyr by police violence (you can almost understand him nibbling through his arteries after he´s scratched open his wrist on a jagged metal plate near the shithole). Final massacre, al-out flashback family slaughter, pretty hard to stomach. DVD enhanced by two audio commentaries (Wong, Yau) in English (!) - excerpt Wong: "When CD player turned up...very loud you hear sound like... ... ... distort..." (Interviewer): "..distortion?" - "Yeah, distortion, that what is acting." Pretty incompatible with the images, though. Lotsa trailers (the ones for Armageddon
and Beast Cops
are better than the movies, the latter - text inserts, visuals mostly only parts of the frame, weird avantgarde narration strategy - almost a nugget), most of them variations on the Bunman
theme (all with Wong). Favourite: Ebola Syndrome
: "How is the virus spreading?" - "Through the burgers of a small Chinese Restaurant!"