Friday, January 19, 2007

Curse of the Golden Flower

So I finally plunged into this film like a low neckline. This movie already has a million reviews on the Internet so I won't bother with one - just a random comment or so. I am not really sure what I thought of the film, but I sure do wish those female fashions would make a comeback! After the film I came out feeling so neutral that I immediately booked a ticket to Switzerland - I neither liked it nor disliked it - it was just there - lots of there admittedly but it felt too cold to be passionate about but too pretty to dislike - a bit like that haughty girl in school who wouldn't pay any attention to you but you couldn't help noticing her from a distance anyway.

I am actually a fan of both Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but this film falls far below those in imagination, emotion and story. It's a big squishy Southern gothic soap opera revolving around infidelity, incest, betrayal, murder, rotten kids, scheming wives, uncaring husbands and ghosts from the past - except that the characters are the royal family in China around 900 A.D. Those were some fun times. All the characters are so unlikable that they should be quarantined for rabies. Gong Li does her best Betty Davis and is really the only thing about the film that I liked - she chews on her scenes like an angry rottweiler and the film belongs to her. Though some may disagree I think she is still more than a little bit stunning and I couldn't help but wonder whether The Banquet would have been a better and more sensible film with her replacing Zhang Ziyi. Chow Yun Fat as the kingpin basically gets to do little more than gloat and look all-knowing.

Director Zhang Yimou takes excess to a new high - but way too much so. It almost gave me indigestion. The inside of the palace is so strangely ornate and colorful that it is no wonder that everyone is going crazy. It's not the poison Gong Li, it's your interior decorator - behead him. And if a scene needs five people, Zhang throws in a hundred just for the hell of it. It's time for the Queen's medicine and an army shows up to make sure she takes it. I can only imagine how many people they need when she has to go to the bathroom. I do love the alarm clock system they had though - many cuties knocking on wooden mallets. In the final battle scene (and the action in this film is very limited compared to Hero and Flying Daggers), the entire population of China shows up and all I could think is where were they hiding all these people in the palace. Most excessive of course and most talked about is the Grand Canyon like cleavage on view - not just Gong Li's but all the bustling young maidens as well - all apparently filled with an ancient Chinese technique of injecting helium gas into one's breasts. It's rather spectacular and quite honestly if you are of the male species it's hard to think about anything else in this film at times. It's a weakness of ours that women probably haven't figured out yet.

On my rating spectrum I would give this a 6.5


Anonymous said...

WHO would disagree that Gong Li is stunning? She is beautiful.

Brian said...

I know but a friend emailed and said he thought she looked much too old on the screen. That first close-up of her in the film is a zinger that made my toes curl.