Well, before I get on to more crappy, boring film reviews, let me point you all in the direction of this breath of fresh air: William Pesek asks "What's the big deal?" A couple of excerpts:
Who really thinks China needs a coming-out party? The place is, well, out. Really out. From TV news items to magazine covers to Zhang Ziyi movies to tour companies, one can't escape Asia's No 2 economy.
A coming-out party for China would be as much a milestone as Japan announcing it makes cars.
Of course, Pesek then goes on to discuss briefly how the games will be politicised whether China likes it or not, and in fact, the games have always largely been political. Actually, it's a very short article with not a lot to say, but I love that opening premise: The Beijing Olympics just aren't that big a deal, really. I just wish the rest of the world would agree.
Now on to the movie review: I finally got to see all of Blood Diamond yesterday afternoon. All up, I watched it in three installments, two of them coming yesterday afternoon. Yesterday afternoon's viewing was interrupted by an interview with a prospective student from Fuzhou who missed the weekend's interviews because of the typhoon. Fortunately her English was excellent, and the only reason I didn't give her high marks is because her answers were too short and simple. Fair enough, she'd just been typhooned and had come straight to the interview from the airport. Fortunately for her it was clear that her comprehension was outstanding. My first attempt to watch it was interrupted by lzh getting home from work. As I said yesterday, some films I watch lzh can't stand, and this I knew in advance would be one of them. Anyway, back to the subject at hand....
So Blood Diamond is another of those films that has been coming out about the conflicts in Africa in the 90s, this one focussing on Sierra Leone and, obviously, the trade in blood diamonds. It's a pretty good film, but a little too Hollywood for my taste. The sheer animal brutality of the Sierra Leone civil war (and other African civil wars, for that matter) has been well-documented, and although Blood Diamond does have some pretty horrific, shocking scenes, I can't help but feel that the brutality was toned down a little. Why, I don't know. Compare with Shooting Dogs: In Shooting Dogs most of the violence was implied or obscured, hidden behind some conveniently-placed bush, but the horror and brutality are not toned down, nothing is sanitised. If anything, the lack of direct violence only adds to the horror. Shooting Dogs is a film that leaves you seething with rage- rage at the genocide, rage at the inaction of the UN and the West- and horror. It's a very powerful film. Blood Diamond, unfortunately, left me feeling like I'd watched just another Hollywood action film. A well-made film, sure, but still, just another Hollywood action film. This is most unfortunate considering the subject matter and the messages that the film had to convey. It could've- should've been a much more powerful experience.
And then last night we watched The Painted Veil. This was the other DVD I bought the other day to balance out the lzh-friendliness of my purchases, but it's a movie I've been wanting to watch for a while. And I was not disappointed. Neither was lzh, for that matter. Brilliant, simply brilliant. The only quibble I have with it is that all these Chinese people living somewhere down south (somewhere eerily Guilin like....) in the 1920s were speaking Putonghua.... Somehow that just didn't quite ring true. But otherwise, an excellent film.
Look, I'm sorry, but that's all I have to say about those two films. Feeling a little rundown, like I've got a cold coming on or something. Somehow I just can't make any intelligent words come out to describe those films any better than I have.
I would like to say, though, that the air looks brilliantly clear outside, even with the cloud and distant haze.