Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

15 June 2009

Three Movies

...and a fucked up weekend. I received some terrible, terrible news on Saturday, and I will probably write about it on this blog in a day or two. Right now I am in denial and I don't feel like writing about it. So: movies.

Watched Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time Redux yesterday. I am not sure what Wong re-did with this movie, because I never saw the original—the DVD quality of the original Ashes of Time has always been super sketchy. I know that the new version has a new score with cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma, but that is all I really know. A couple thoughts about this movie. It took me a little while to get interested in it. This is partly because the movie is set in a kind of rural, medieval netherworld of a desert in China. This is beautiful, but completely unhinged from reality even though it maintains a premise of realism for a while.

Ashes of Time is beautiful to look at, though, and by the end of it, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I have one more complaint, though, which is that the swordfighting and action sequences are not interesting at all. They are often in slow-motion and they lack tension, as well as a rooting factor.

I did not care for Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Querelle. It's famous gay cinema, but its charms were lost on me almost completely. It's sexy, that's for sure, but it never really works. This may be because it is not really clear about what it is trying to do. It may be because Fassbinder is attempting to re-create the feel of Genet's book on film. I am not sure what he is trying to do, though, because whatever he was trying most certainly did not work. Frank Episale, a colleague of mine, has written an interesting essay about Fassbinder's film, which I, quite frankly, found more interesting than Querelle itself. Querelle is definitely no Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

It's a disaster!! I really liked Earthquake. I am a big fan of seventies disaster movies anyway, but I think Earthquake has to be one of the best. Great special effects, interesting (and sometimes very weird) characters, and an uncompromising, very cool ending. I also loved Earthquake's photography. The editing and camerawork build tension very well and the ends without dragging on the story for too long, and—perhaps more importantly—without tying up the loose ends of the disaster the way most disaster films do. A little less all-star than, say, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake stars Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Geneviève Bujold and George Kennedy (is he in every disaster movie?). I am not a Charlton Heston fan, but Bujold is delightful. Definitely worth the rent.