Month: April 2007

La Cité Interdite

Curse of the Golden Flower

Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia

Zhang Yimou :: China :: 2006 :: 1h54

An epic Shakespearean drama unfolds when characters with nerves of steel and the agility of phantoms clash in tragic blood-stained events cloaked by a stunning, tranquil beauty. A spectacular experience of old school theatre in a modern aesthetic.

Set in the Tang dynasty, 928 AD, the Emperor returns from battle to the forbidden city, as a Macbeth avant la lettre. Plunging himself fearlessly into his strained relationships with just about all the members of his court, he assumes full responsibility for the role he is entrusted to. A role draped in the understanding that all movement is but strategy in the chess game of the imperial power struggle, a game at which he is a ruthless master.

The Emperor’s unabridged display of the worst power has to offer is contrasted with the frustration, loyalty and anger harbored by his wife and sons. The characters are all so theatrically surreal with their emotions amplified to a large-than-life scale that it should have crippled them out of any action other than desperation. But they manage, and are convincing enough to carry you along with their descent out of the honorable. They are surrounded by the impressive but cartoon-style choreography of Chinese battle scenes we have become used to, of expert anti-gravity elf-like soldiers caught up in the cinema matrix.

A captivating and engrossing depiction of life in the forbidden city as it lives in the imagination of generations passed. Along the sidelines of the tale, you will be offered a palette of colors which are breathtaking, coloring the extravagant palace, dressing the characters and demarcating the fairy-tale scenery. Many reasons, as far as I’m concerned, to pass the threshold into the realm of the Forbidden City.

Official Website


Les Vacances de Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Steve Bendelack :: UK :: 2007 :: 1h29

Winning a holiday in Cannes during the famous festival, Mr Bean sets off south. Although not quite with the speed of a TGV as planned, his voyage turns into a comedy road trip to the beach.

Very American in its set-up, the film has little credit to obtain from its story-line. Fans of Mr Bean will not find this remotely disturbing, as Bean’s comedy rests on the charm of the character. What works well as sketches, however, becomes rather tedious when watching for over an hour. Mr. Bean’s (mis-)adventures lead to the sad realization that the character’s entire life is filled with such silliness.

It is worth considering, that the movie is well adapted for a very young audience, as you can easily play with your bricks and watch the movie at the same time without missing a step. I would suggest someone either tries it out on their little one or, of course, climbs up to the attic to track down their wooden bricks… As an adult, I can only shrug my shoulders at talented Atkinson’s slow movie, and dream back to the days of his sketches.

Je crois que je l’aime

Je crois que je l’aime

Pierre Jolivet :: France :: 2006 :: 1h30

Unscrupulous industrialist falls in love with a bold ceramics artist, but out of a fear of being disappointed, he has his private investigator find out everything he can about her. Predictably the private investigator gets caught, constituting the drama of their budding love affair, after which the audience burns in anticipation of how the tale will end.

With a story-line as thin as the latest mobile phone, the weight of film would have to depend on the quality of the humor or the charm of the characters. The former sadly lacks and the latter depends on a very generous helping of goodwill from the spectator. If you are really feeling that generous, you may consider offering your friends something a little more entertaining than one and a half hours of when-will-they-finally… as the real question burning in your heart will be ‘when will they finally let me leave?’

Official website