There is one scene in Clean that sticks out to me. A supremely-groggy Nick Nolte sits at a small fast food joint and gets a small salad and water while Maggie Cheung (playing his widowed daughter-in-law) goes up to the counter and orders a monster burger, french fries, and onion rings with a large coke. It's her first real meal since getting out of prison and it's his first meal with her for god knows how long. There's a lot of symbolism, even though it's simple, being used in the scene, and it gives depth to a complicated relationship (everyone thinks she Courtney-Loved her rocker boyfriend). How did director Olivier Assayas, a seasoned pro, allow this to be one of the scant few scenes that hold any real fascination? Furthermore, how did he allow himself to write something so damn drab and insipid?
Emily (Cheung) spends the first 15 minutes of the film being the annoying Yoko to Lee (Nick Cave dead ringer and cohort James Johnston), an aging rocker trying to get a deal for his anthology. She gets nabbed for heroin possession just when she finds Lee's body but is saved by Lee's manager. Out of jail after a quick stint, she meets with Albrecht (Nolte), her father-in-law who has been raising her son Jay with his wife. It's apparent to all involved (besides Jay) that Emily needs to get clean, get a job, and take custody of her child. The journey is held up by a brief stint in Paris where she still takes pills, gets fired from a job and finally begins to detox after her musician friend Tricky (playing himself) ignores her requests for help with the custody issue.
Continue reading: Clean Review
Unfortunately, former sidekick Sammo Hung is absent this time around, and there are far fewer fights to be had. The cool stuntwork doesn't come out until the final 15 minutes, but by then I was honestly too bored to perk up. The rest of the film is just much less inventive than its predecessor, proving Project A 2 to be a vanity knockoff for Chan, who was busy directing every action film he could get his hands on. Chan would go on to make much better movies with a more impressive sense of humor later, but A 2 qualifies for little better than a C-.
Continue reading: Project A 2 Review
Wong's fan base may be most surprised at the stillness of this new entry. Putting aside the hyperkinetic blurry visuals of his earlier works, Wong favors careful compositions and warmer lighting. If this film were in black and white, it might be confused for early Bresson. Wong shoots entire scenes of Love in static, pristine minute-long takes emphasizing the distant spatial relationships between a handsome young man, Mr. Chow (Tony Leung, Hard Boiled) and a beautiful young woman, Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep).
Continue reading: In The Mood For Love Review
Relying on the three pillars of Chandom -- blazingly fast fights, awesome stunts, and bad dubbing -- Chan once again turns out a crowd pleaser full of karate chops and busted skulls. Basically a continuation of Chan's Police Story series, fans of this genre will find themselves in familiar territory.
Continue reading: Supercop Review
It's probably too late and too familiar a technique to do either, but there's plenty to admire despite those limitations, for which it has already received critical and award level acclaim. At the time of this writing, it is one of the 2002 Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.
Continue reading: Hero (2002) Review
This time, Tony Leung's Chow Mo-Wan is far from the repressed creature that he played in Love, eternally suffering for the married beauty living in his apartment building. Mo-Wan is now going through all the highs and lows of numerous affairs in 1960s Hong Kong, playing out almost an entire history of love within the space of one film. The title comes from the number of the apartment next to his, wherein reside a number of women with whom we will see him become entangled over the course of the film. 2046 is also the name of a science fiction serial he scribbles down (part of the dues he pays as a struggling hack writer), scenes of which we see acted out, watching its hero endure an eternal train ride away from the mysterious place called 2046, where everybody goes to reclaim lost memories and never returns from; except him.
Continue reading: 2046 Review
Continue reading: Ashes Of Time Review
Another achingly evocative and melancholy near-masterpiece from virtuoso writer-director Wong Kar-Wai, "2046" is breathtakingly beautiful and lush with color, narratively dense and psychologically complex, and blessed with vivid, visceral performances that burst at the seams with reserved passion.
Its tender yet abrasive story catches up with Chow (Tony Leung), one of the broken-hearted lovers from Wong's unforgettable "In the Mood for Love," years after the affair that redefined his life has ended. Now a cold, slippery, charming, Brylcreem-ed playboy, newspaper hack and pulp writer in 1960s Hong Kong, he lives a film-noir life (complete with gritty voice-over and dark wit) in a semi-seedy hotel, across the hall from Room 2046 where he once spent the night with the love of his life. Lately the room has been occupied by a string of beautiful women (Gong Li, Faye Wong and Zhang Ziyi among them), and Chow seduces (or is seduced by) each of them in turn, often with unforeseen emotional consequences.
These liaisons and the quiet turmoil they produce in his leathered soul serve as fuel for Chow's latest dime novel, a highly symbolic science-fiction story of ardent rebel activists and android women incapable of love, set largely onboard a bullet train speeding on elevated tracks through worldwide skyscraper canyons in the year 2046. (The title -- which is also the year China's promise of sovereignty for Hong Kong expires -- crops up many times.)
Continue reading: 2046 Review
If Dimension Films wants to turn a quick profit cashing in on re-dubs ofJackie Chan's extensive Hong Kong filmography, I don't have a problem withthat. But they can do a lot better than "Twin Dragons," a 1993assembly line flick in which Chan plays twins separated at birth.
Short on Chan's trademark comedy-fu and his dazzling, riskystunts, and long -- very long -- on gimmick, the sloppy and unnecessarilycomplex story casts our hero as both a world-famous concert pianist andas a street-raised mechanic who meet for the first time just as one ofthem has run into trouble with the mob (guess which one).
Continue reading: Twin Dragons Review
The most expensive and highest grossing film in Chinese history, Zhang Yimou's "Hero" went on to snag one of 2002's Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film. Unfortunately, the notorious Miramax snapped it up and sat on it for two years, as if somehow ashamed of their newest acquisition. Indeed, naysayers quickly dismissed the film as a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon knockoff.
Earlier this year, Miramax very cautiously allowed "Hero" to open the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and now they've suspiciously dumped it at the end of August, where unwanted films usually go to die.
Despite all this, when Hero finally exploded on the big screen it quickly and effortlessly established itself as one of the two or three most exceptional, spectacular and beautiful martial arts movies ever made.
Continue reading: HERO Review
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Another achingly evocative and melancholy near-masterpiece from virtuoso writer-director Wong Kar-Wai, "2046" is breathtakingly beautiful...
If Dimension Films wants to turn a quick profit cashing in on re-dubs ofJackie Chan's...