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It's really hard to talk about The Handmaiden without spoilers, but I'll try. It's based off of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, which was set in Victorian England's criminal underground. There's plot twists galore, some of it a little too off for me to buy it, and the second half kind of falters. But it was a pretty engaging book overall from what I remember of it. I actually think I like the movie a lot better, even though it's now set in Korea around the turn of the century, and there's a bunch of stuff that passes me by like the Korean/Japanese identity/hatred issues. It's also way weirder than the book. The actresses who play the protagonists are awesome, the scenery is stunning, and it's very unsentimental. It's currently free on Amazon Prime if you have it.

The Last Tycoon is available on Hulu, and it's in Mandarin. (The trailer is in Cantonese.) So...this is what I think happened. Wong Jing, the director, watched Inglorious Basterds. And he thought, this is great, but it needs something more. Like...a triad boss with a heart of gold and a tragic, doomed love story. Like LoveHKFilms asks, are you really a mobster if you eschew drugs, gambling, and prostitution in your business operations? Features Chow Yun Fat and Sammo Hung, being way better actors than this movie actually is. It's also soooo sappy, and each battle set piece is so epically drawn out.

toastykitten: (Default)
No spoiler cuts, because these movies are over 20 years old.

Blade Runner: Director's Cut, or at the very least, A cut that was not the original theatrical release. No voiceover in this one. I actually don't remember the movie that much, so watching this was like seeing it for the first time. One of the interesting things about watching it was seeing the seeds being planted for things like Battlestar. Sentient robots with homicidal emotions! "Skinjobs"! Edward James Olmos! It was really good, though some parts dragged, like the unicorn dream, which didn't really make much sense.

The Heroic Trio, a Hong Kong female superhero movie. Man, I wish the Netflix discs had Cantonese subtitles. The dialog was so painful to listen to. Maybe next time I should just mute it. This movie stars Anita Mui (sadly passed), Michelle Yeoh (back when she was Michelle Khan), and Maggie Cheung as three superhero women fighting an evil eunuch who wants to take over the world. This movie is ultimate cheese - even the superhero costumes look pretty ghetto, like they just took some bedding and wrapped themselves with it. It feels like the entire movie is set in one giant warehouse - inexplicably, the hospital is also the nursery where babies are being inadequately protected by the bumbling Hong Kong police force. Plots make no sense. Anthony Wong was unrecognizable as a killing monster, but that's cause he didn't have any speaking lines. At one point the women's mode of transportation are horses, even though they live in the present. Science fiction is mixed with Chinese historical fantasy - there's a plot revolving around a scientifically invented invisible cloak, which the villain wants so he can rule the world. How he rules the world from a sewer is anyone's guess.

If I were 10 I would have loved this movie. As it is, I'm just amused and completely baffled by it.
toastykitten: (Default)
I just found out that Amazon has an entire section devoted to Hong Kong Category III films.

Lost Mitten's Etsy Shop full of Nintendo crafty stuff is awesome.

HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux - I especially like 3.3 - Don't Call Women Bitches. You would think that's obvious, but apparently not.

I've been completely riveted by the story of the fake Stanford student that was just discovered. I wonder what's going to happen to her now.

Immigrants from China, India and the Philippines in particular must wait longer than most other immigrants to bring in family members because their countrymen have tended to fill the annual immigration quotas for their countries more quickly than immigrants from other countries.
- Okay, this explains why my family had to wait so goddamn long to bring my aunts and uncles over. The rest of the article is an informative if depressing read about why the new proposed immigration bill will really, really suck for Asian immigrants and their families. *sigh*

A cat shooting game.

Maxine Hong Kingston was on the latest guest on the Bill Moyers Journal. They talked about her writing and meditation workshops for veterans of war. Some of the writing has been collected into a book called Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace. I thought it was a very touching episode, and it was interesting to hear her talk. I didn't realize how old she was - she mentioned growing up during World War II and watching relatives in uniform go off to war. It hit me - she's about or as old as my dad, then. How strange.
toastykitten: (Default)
We got back from the wedding a while ago. Our table was the LUG group, and how nerdy was it that two people at our table bought the groom and the bride the Dungeons and Dragons books? The bride and groom were lovely, and had a thankfully short and sweet ceremony in the East, EAST Bay, where it was boiling hot. It was a pretty small wedding, with some yummy cake, and a very pretty venue. We got to catch up with some people we hadn't seen in a while, and congratulated the bride and groom, both of whom looked lovely and very, very happy.

While the groom did not have a bachelor party, Mark and some of his friends decided to have a Scotch-tasting party the night before. They got pretty smashed, and I hadn't seen Mark that drunk since college. :P

I cannot drink Scotch. It burns, although one of the ones they tried did not burn. I'll post up their "tasting notes" when I find it - on one of them I added "smells like urine". Which it did. They drank a lot of Scotch.

It was also a potluck. (No drinking on empty stomachs!) One of Mark's coworkers, brought the best Indian food I have ever tasted. (Not that I go for Indian all that often, but it was pretty amazing.) Home-cooked food is always the best. I made twice-baked potatoes, bruschetta (which is pretty good, I think), and some salad, and other people brought smoked chicken, turkey, duck and some prosciutto and mozzarella. The smoked turkey was very, very tough. I couldn't bite through it, and gave it to Mark. I need to find some different things to cook, although bruschetta right now is very good, since tomatoes are in season.

Towards the end, somebody asked a question - what are your top five favorite movies? This was my answer:

1. 10 Things I Hate About You (I don't care how dated it gets - this is my favorite Shakespeare adaptation, and has Heath Ledger singing!)
2. Ever After: A Cinderella Story (I am a sucker for fairy tales, and especially fairy tales where the heroine is not useless.)
3. Infernal Affairs (This one is the best Hong Kong movie ever - it's like a re-birth of the movie industry with this film. Andy Lau and Tony Leung are amazing, as is all the supporting cast. Ok, I could have lived without Kelly Chen, but that's my own bias.)
4. The Incredibles (I have loved each successive Pixar movie more and more, and it peaked with the Incredibles. I liked Cars, but didn't love it. I loved the attention to detail paid in the movie, and especially how well they knew the tropes of the superhero genre. It was just all-around awesome.)
5. Donnie Darko (I didn't mention this at the party, because I couldn't think of it, until one of the songs on the soundtrack was played at the wedding. But I love this movie, for its little quirks, for introducing me to Jake Gyllenhaal, for the conversation about Smurfs, and the time travel. Love!)

If I took Infernal Affairs out and put those on my Hong Kong movie list, I'd replace it with Ghost Dog. I loved Forest Whitaker's performance, and he pretty much made the movie.

If I made a Hong Kong list, it would be:

1. Infernal Affairs (see above)
2. Police Story III - the Jackie Chan movie with Michelle Yeoh in it, because she gets to do her own stunts, and outshines Jackie Chan. Especially the one where she rides a motorcycle onto a speeding train. Watching the outtakes was pretty painful.
3. Ashes of Time - one of the early Wong Kar-Wai movies. This movie makes no sense, and is full of pretty people pining for loves lost and stolen. After this movie, everyone seemed to steal from it.
4. High Risk - with Jet Li and Jackie Cheung. Admittedly, this is a Wong Jing movie, which means that it's "mo lay tau" - nonsense - and steals blatantly from Die Hard and Speed. But it's one of my favorite Jet Li movies, because it's so funny, and it has some really good fight scenes.
5. Fong Sai Yuk - I love this movie more for Josephine Siao than Jet Li. She's such an amazing and talented comic and serious actress - she pretty much steals the show. She plays Jet Li's mom. One of my favorite things about this movie is how Siao gets herself into a situation where she's in drag and someone falls in love with her. It's hilarious.

Ok, I'm going to sleep. See ya.
Jun. 15th, 2006 08:57 pm


toastykitten: (Default)
Embarrassment - finding your junior high yearbook and looking at the picture of you when you were thirteen and your mom still cut your hair and gave you crooked bangs that still covered your eyes anyway. God, that's so painful. Why oh why didn't I just fix the damn bangs?

I've reneged on my no new magazines promise to myself and bought the latest issue of GiantRobot. Holy shit, one of them got married? They opened a gallery in San Francisco? (The newest one is on Shrader.) How much more could they possibly take on?

I should just get a subscription already. The highlight of this issue for me was Daniel Wu's article talking how he decided to form his own boy band with friends and document the process. I've been downloading the Quicktime links from their band website, and the article answers some questions, but not all. Like, the press boycott of the group is mentioned in one sentence. And you can find out here why Daniel hates the press over there so much. If you think the paparazzi are soulless pricks here, the Hong Kong version is a million times worse - they have no compunction about going through garbage, staking out people's homes - they probably don't even need long-lens cameras for their work.

The music sucks, even by Canto-pop boy band standards. Terence Yin is the only one who can sing, and every time they go off-key, they jokingly blame Daniel for it. They can't dance, either. Oh, and they covered Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. In English. They probably didn't get permission, either.

Daniel's Cantonese got a lot better. His accent used to bug me, reminding me of my own increasingly Americanized Cantonese. I think he should come back to the States to do movies, but that's just me. :P

I first saw him in Purple Storm, in which he plays a Cambodian terrorist who loses his memory and some Hong Kong psychologist decides to implant memories in his subconscious so that he will be a good person. It's a decent action movie, with a little bit of incredulous sci-fi thrown into the mix.

I have to get my hands on Bishonen.
toastykitten: (Default)
My sister sent me this link, in which Christopher Doyle rants about Martin Scorsese's remake of Infernal Affairs. Can anyone confirm that Scorsese didn't know he was doing a remake of a Hong Kong movie? And that Andy Lau actually wanted a cameo in the movie?

The unsubstantiated gossip is killing me. Am too sleepy to Google.
toastykitten: (Default)
Marc Jacobs Quilted Leather Kim Bag.

Why? Because it's named after ME!

I ain't paying for it, though.

It was duly noted that the Civil Administrative Department in China will investigate and penalize anyone who offers to burn paper figures that represent items such as villas, sedans, mistresses, Viagra, condoms, 3P girls and Super Girls for their ancestors during the traditional Qingming festival. This item taken from Virtual China. First of all, I had no idea you could burn paper condoms and mistresses for QingMing. Second of all, it makes my cousin's joking about burning some security guards for my aunt along with all the money we give her that much funnier. Third, does anyone know what the hell "3P girls" and a "Super Girls" are?

Also from Virtual China - Beijing's Tongzhou District recently established an internal database of local bribery records, Beijing Star Daily reports. I *totally* think we could use one here.

My sister saw Andy Lau at the Asian Film Festival (yes I know it has a longer name; I'm tired). I am SOOO JEALOUS. She said he was really nice and his English was pretty decent. Someone asked him how he felt about America doing the remake of Infernal Affairs and he said very diplomatically that it's a good opportunity for Hong Kong films to get more exposure. He only stayed here three days, and on one of them he went bowling. He is the nicest guy.
toastykitten: (Default)
Not that I'm planning to quit or anything, but this is very good to know: In California, a non-compete agreement is enforceable only if someone sells a business and agrees not to compete with the new owner. That aside, California employers cannot restrict the livelihood of their current or former employees.

Greencine had someone covering the Hong Kong Film Festival - the most interesting part is the controversial directorial debut of heartthrob Daniel Wu, who according to Wikipedia, went to Head Royce in Oakland. Head Royce is a pretty exclusive private school, and you either have to be very rich or very smart to get in. (Of course, the first thing that popped into my head was, so that's where all the hot Asian boys were!) I received an application, but I never applied, after looking at the cost. I remember we had a few friends who went there, and (my memory is extremely fuzzy on this) how once some people from Skyline went to visit them. One told a story about how the teacher, in order to get her class to be quiet, said that she would walk out until the class became quiet. And did. When one of the Head Royce students asked the Skyline kid what she would do if it happened in the public school, she replied, "We would walk out, too. Shit." Or something to that effect.

Of course, being from Oakland, Mr. Wu's a troublemaker, and his movie, Heavenly Kings, totally pissed off the Hong Kong media. It's basically a mockumentary/documentary, in which he and three other friends create a real band, and show how stuff gets manipulated and processed in the press and in the recording studio. He's been blacklisted from quite a few places, but it's only garnered him more media attention elsewhere, and his band is still Alive.

How is the movie itself? Don't know; have not received any VCDs from my sisters yet.
toastykitten: (Default)
Tivo's most recent experiment with downloads came in the form of a short documentary called "Red Trousers", about the lives of Hong Kong stuntmen. We watched it last night, and I had mixed feelings about it. (Not about the download service - that's awesome.) The documentary, when it focused on the stuntmen themselves, and their stories, was really interesting and engaging, and made you want to see more. The short film that was spliced into it, called "Lost Time", was terrible. As soon as I saw the opening scene, I yelled "Matrix rip off!" Later I realized that it was actually a Black Mask rip off. They did several stunts for the movie, which would have been cool if only they had turned the lights on. I will forgive bad plots and bad acting if it has beautiful stunts, but only if I can see it! Sheesh, people. We couldn't see any of the dangerous stunt work that took several takes because for most of the short film, it was pitch black.

Anyway, I also wished they could have interviewed Michelle Yeoh and Jackie Chan about their stunts, especially for Supercop 3, which features my favorite stunts - Michelle rides a motorcycle onto a moving train, Jackie fights on the movie train, etc. I love Sammo Hung, though, and I loved it when he was bitching about how you "can't touch anyone in America". I know one of the biggest complaints stuntpeople have about working in America is that you generally can't make contact when you shoot fight sequences, which makes it kind of hard to make the shots realistic. Also, you need a permit for everything.

Does anyone remember Martial Law, the terrible TV series that featured Sammo Hung, Arsenio Hall, and Kelly Hu? No? Just me? I used to watch it all the time, and they would feature bloopers in the endings like they do for Jackie Chan movies. I was so disappointed when I saw a guy in a fat suit doing one of Hung's stunts.

The kids at the Beijing opera school made me cry. Dude, can a Chinese person's life ever be about anything besides repaying their parents? I think that's why our parents over here are so disappointed in us - whatever we do, we've never repaid them enough. (Unless we become doctors, lawyers, or engineers. Or marry one.)

There were two movie trailers before the main show started, both featuring the great Anthony Wong or Wong Chau Sang. He's (in)famous for his portrayals of crazy people. My sisters call him the Pervert. I think he's probably one of the best actors in Hong Kong today. The movie I want to see is Initial D, a Hong Kong live-action version of a terribly drawn anime with a one-dimensional plot. It's about drifting, or making your car move sideways in a way it's not supposed to. I don't really get it, but it has cars! Brooding boys!

ETA: I, for once, have no complaints about the subtitles. The translation is pretty decent.
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