Monday, September 23, 2013

Oh God, It's Para Para Sakura

Para Para Sakura

Director: Jingle Ma

Year: 2001


Sooner or later everyone has to Para Para Sakura. It’s like a giant slow moving lifeless blob that will follow you wherever you go in life waiting for you to succumb to the inevitable. I recall dipping my foot into this inert mindless mass years ago and pulling it out quickly in something akin to revulsion. I think this was likely within the first five minutes in which the main actor gyrates on a stage in a pink t-shirt and the announcer asks the watching audience whether anyone wanted “this hunk”.  That was enough for a first attempt. There is only so much a sensitive man can take. But I am older now though clearly not much wiser and so I went into the deep water again. Good God no, someone pull me out, please pull me out. Oh no, it’s too late. It’s Aaron Kwok looking so fit and cute and trying so hard to dance. So much Aaron Kwok.  I feel myself drowning in Kwokiness and I may never be seen again. I need to come up for air.

I am wondering whether the words Jingle Ma in Cantonese mean "pretty and empty". As in that girl is just so Jingle Ma. If not, you have my permission to start using it, but I have trademarked it. Jingle Ma is a great cinematographer and has lensed many of my favorite films, so you can’t say don’t let him near a camera again but I think you can say don’t let him near a script. He just enjoys making really pretty, light hearted films that are so weightless that it makes your average fluff seem like snuff. But lots of people very much enjoy these films and who am I to want to deprive them of their pleasures any more than I would want to stop someone from going to a petting zoo. And in truth I have quite a guilty liking for one of his films that will be discussed in a future post when I have left the country and taken on another identity.

So there is Aaron Kwok as Philip Wong who is a dance/aerobics instructor with classes full of incredibly attractive women who throw themselves at him like coins in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. But he is shy and very unsure of himself around the opposite sex. This is seemingly due to his lack of being able to see color. That is until the ever giggling Yuri (played by Cecilia Cheung as if taking snorts of helium gas throughout) keeps bumping into him and knocking him down. Meeting cute in other words. A tried and true romantic comedy foible since they began making movies. With her he sees color, vivid pinks and greens.
Yuri turns out to be the Japanese daughter of a wealthy department store owner and is engaged to someone she has known since she was a little girl. Sort of an arranged marriage. Once you have that fact under your belt you know exactly where this movie is going and does it ever go there but with less interest and more predictability than the NRA defending another mass shooting.  Along the way there are two dance numbers that were harmless enough.

I don’t want to make it sound like I hated this film because I didn’t. I just woke up from it with less respect for myself than I prefer. It goes by and the world moves on. Cecilia tries hard to be adorable but perhaps a bit too much and Aaron tries to be humble and meek and that plays as well as a tuba in a rock band. In the film, his friend says of his character “You are good looking but boring” and in my mind that perfectly fit Aaron Kwok and I suppose why I have never warmed up to him as an actor. Though clearly physically talented as he has shown in many films he always seems to be skating by on his looks and bland charm. In fact, for much of his career you could call him Jingle Ma, but I will admit that once he hit the ancient age of forty he seemed to be growing into a more mature actor in films like After This Our Exile and The Detective. I have to say I have seen him in nothing recently so I am not sure if these films were an aberration or a trend.

My Rating for this Film: 4.5
Here is the first dance number.
And no doubt you cool kids know that Para Para is a group dance that originated in Japan, but for those who don't here is the finale of this incredibly great film. So come on let's all Para Para Sakura tonight!

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