Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Squatting Marmot, Hulking Monkey

House of Flying Daggers - great movie that reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (actually has the same actress) with the fighting among treetops and other physics-defying acrobatics. It's gorgeous cinematography, so green and lush and epic and you really can't tell where the leaves stop and the matte paintings begin. I can only think of a couple other films with visual artistry like this: The Scent of Green Papaya, an almost wordless Vietnamese film, and Prospero's Books, a Peter Greenaway version of Shakespeare's The Tempest starring John Gielgud. I am still hoping to see Prospero come out on DVD, but alas, not yet. It's like a moving painting of the story, a frame-by-frame tableau vivant.

Watching Daggers, I had to wonder about something...when Hollywood was still churning out westerns, people came from overseas expecting everyone in America to be dressed in cowboy hats and riding horses. Do I have the same misapprehension about Asia? Most of the films I've seen about China take place in some distant past dynastic empire. Would I be unconsciously expecting to see everyone wearing flowing silk garments like I see in the movies if I went over there? I think I would. About the only emblamatic image of China I have that's anywhere near current is of people in a city square doing Tai Chi (and I probably spelled that wrong).

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