Posted on 5/03/10 11:44 AM
The River (Tsai-Ming Liang) - 7
like in Safe, the protoganist is driven to near insanity as he suffers a seemingly undiagnosable and, therefore, incurable anguish. Ming-Liang's film, shot in his characteristicly restrained style (long takes, camera rarely moving, a distance almost always kept between subject and lense), fits perfectly with the subject, cultural disaffection (which may or may not be the cause of Xiao-Kang's ailment, the same could be said about Julianne Moore's character in Haynes' film, the ambiguity is what makes this film and that film work as well as they do, IMHO). if looking for an example to backup this hypothesis, the clearest way would be to analyze how sex between characters is depicted in the film. first, there's the encounter between the lead and a girl he knew at some point earlier (how long it's been, and how close they were at one point, is never specified). they're in a hotel room, given to him for washing up purposes after volunteering to act as a stand-in for a corpse floating in a polluted river in a film the girl has a job in the production of. she has bodily urges, of the peeing kind, and requires that he make the room completely pitch black, as the doors to the facility are translucent and she doesn't want to be seen. cut immediately to them together, her (I want a matter-of-fact but still somewhat discreet word for this, but the best I can come up with is) riding someone she's unwilling to share that intimacy, the urinating, with. the rest of the sexual encounters in the film are either in anonymous bathhouses (the father in that case), or are prompted by a conditioning to porn, arousal having nothing to do with the other person in the room, but rather the squeals of a girl on the idiot box (this relating to the mother and her boyfriend).
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1967) - 8
a note: I don't think I saw the director's cut, which is a bummer. the first two films in the series were claustrophobic. Leone would rarely pull away from the action, which made the space between was forces ill-defined, so it all that was clear was that both were always right up close, adding to it was that the vastness of the country often ignored, he was making noir-westerns. now, along with the Yojimbo plot-lines, that atmosphere, which helped imbibe the film with a palpable level of suspense is gone, in favor of a more wide open, free ranging, almost The Hidden Fortress-y buddy epic (the buddies, in this case, being The Good and The Ugly). kept from the first two films is just how uprighteously the protagonist often didn't act, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, from a moral aspect, all seem interchangeable. which is only heightened by the casting of Lee Van Cleef, one of the good guys in For A Few Dollars More, as The Bad.
I can't help but think that that block of text only works as the first paragraph of a response that absolutely requires a second, but laziness...
other movies I've liked (along with the first two films in the Man With No Name trilogy, which I think I made my fondness for rather obvious, but in case I didn't, here's my paranthesized comments):
Versus (Ryuhei Kitamura)
Late August, Early September (Olivier Assayas)