Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Greencine Five, Part IV: Memento Mori, Bride and Prejudice, Azumi, The Burmese Harp, Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life.... and other strange tales
A head-ache-inducingly complicated love quadrilateral, Memento Mori joins the "new wave" of Korean cinema that focuses on bizarre plots, fantastically improbably revenge stories, and Catholic iconography. Rapid cuts and a seemingly switches between the past, present, and fantasy leave the viewer struggling to keep up. Lady of tdaxp and I took special pleasure as one of the main characters perfectly shares the physical appearance, vocal intonation, and mannerisms, leading to some otherwise needed levity. You won't regret Memento Mori, but you won't regret missing it, either.
Bride and Prejudice, a fusion of Bollywood and Jane Austen, is fantastic. A story with shallow characters, predictable plot twists, and inexplicable dancing. It's also fun. Several sisters are on the marriage market, energized by their sense of romance and their mother's sense of drama ("It is my fate to grow old in this house, surrounded by spinsters!"). The film is structured in India, London, Los Angeles, London, and India, and the (apparently standard) Bollywood fight scene is hilariously staged in a Bollywood theatre. In spite of skepticism of bollywood (Lady of tdaxp) and skepticism of film adaptions of Jane Austen (Sister of Lady), everyone loved this film.
A disappointing movie set during the early morning of the Tokagawa Shogunate, Azumi is the story of a girl assassin who, well, is a pretty good looking girl and has a knack for assassinating people. Specifically, Azumi's cell is charged with eliminating the Shogunate's near-peer competitors on Japan, which (if successfully completed) would allow a peaceful hegemony to descend over the land. Western weapons are in use throughout the film, hihglihging the open source civil war of the time. Ultimately, Azumi's good lucks and a video game aesthetic (both of which become more apparent as the film rolls on) cannot save a poorly executed attempt to combine Battle Royale with Hero. Sans Azumi herself, the movie is as good as Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai. (Note that Curtis disagrees.)
If Signs of Life (previously reviewed here) has a typically German message about the second world war ("Sorry!"), The Burmese Harp is typically Japanese ("It sucks for us too!"). This 1968 film is saved from Under the Flag of the Rising Sun mediocrity, however, because of the American film that seems based on it: Dances with Wolves. While I don't think that one was directly based on the other, I had the same joy watching The Burmese Harp as I did with The Magnificent Seven, after seeing Seven Samurai.
An uneven mix of four short films, Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life.... and other strange tales ranges from the interesting to the hilarious. The title piece is the most disappointing of the collection, an interesting if mechanical tale of writer's block while writing The Metamorphosis. Seven Gates is the tale of two brothers making their way back to Christmas meal, hinting at previous adventures ("I try to imagine your face when you saw all those dead turkeys") and leaving you wanting more. The Deal is Lewis Black's hilarious spoof of evil corporate titans. And Mr. McAllister's Cigarette Holder is a sweet story of dignity during poverty in the Deep South of the Great Depression.
The best scene in Bride and Prejudice was where the two drop-dead beautiful girls played by Aishwarya Rai and Namrata Shirodkar (both former Miss Universe contestants, I think) are moping around because they are afraid they will never find husbands.
Posted by: Lexington Green | Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Sister of Lady must be corrected! in order:
1. BBC Pride and Prejudice
3. Sense and Sensibility
4. Clueless (adaptation of Emma. the other two Emmas aren't great)
in that context, Bride and Prejudice was fun, though the singing and dancing got a little old.
nice comment, Lex
Posted by: Sean | Wednesday, July 18, 2007
While I have only seen two Jane Austen "adaptations," I am sure they are the only two worth seeing.
1. Bridge and Prejudice
2. Jane Austen's Mafia! 
Other than that, why bother?
Now that you mention it, many, many films involve very, very beautiful women in highly, highly improbable situations :-)
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, July 19, 2007
'Bride and Prejudice' it is interesting movie. i enjoyed it...
Posted by: cocktail dresses | Tuesday, July 05, 2011