Friday, February 25, 2005

Farwell My Concubine (1993)

Director Chen Kaige
Starring Leslie Cheung, Gong Li

Time All Time 100 Movies

In 1977, two old veterans of the classic Beijing Opera are reunited after long inactivity and estrangement. The story ranges over their entire careers, going back to the 1924 warlord era when they were both child apprentices under a brutal, abusive teacher.... By 1937 when war with Japan is imminent, Douzi (now going by the professional name of Chieng Dieyi) has a wealthy patron, while Shitou (aka Xiaolou Duan) marries a beautiful and headstrong prostitute (Li). These outside relationships put a severe strain on their professional team, and further large developments -- the Japanese occupation, the Nationalist uprising in 1945, the Communist revolution in 1949, and the devastating Cultural Revolution of 1966-- lead the characters into lies, betrayals, trials, and deaths. This gorgeous, crushing, magnificently written (based on the novel by Lillian Lee) and acted epic was released in 157 minutes in the U.S. but its original Chinese print is 171 minutes long. For once the astonishing Gong Li is out-acted by a man: Leslie Cheung in the title role.

David Loftus, Resident Farewell My Concubine Scholar

Raise The Red Lantern (1991)

Director Zhang Yimou
Starring Gong Li

Raise the Red Lantern, a magnificent film that confirms Zhang as a world-class director, may cause him more grief. The setting is northern China in the Twenties. The teenage Songlian (Gong Li) marries the fiftyish Chen (Ma Jingwu), a rich and ruthless man who already has three wives. Each night, servants raise a red lantern in front of the door of the wife whom the master decides to reward with his sexual favors. The struggle among the wives for power, or at least the appearance of it, allows Zhang to suggest disturbing links between past and present. Gong Li delivers a performance of exquisite expressiveness that, like the film itself, is unnerving in its emotional nakedness.

Rolling Stone

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Essay: Beyond Children of the Atom: Black Politics, White Minds and the X-men.

Not having much to do, I decided to say something about the X-men and the interpretation of it all. The franchise has done very well; the movies, comics, animation... but why? So, I decided to start by searching google for keywords 'xmen' and 'racism'. The top hit is the essay above.

Essay: Beyond Children of the Atom: Black Politics, White Minds and the X-men.
May 8, 2003