Tuesday, March 14, 2006

HC Film Festival: Two American and One Chinese

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
This was enjoyable but much simpler than I expected. I did enjoy seeing Robert Redford play a character that was not boyishly likable. The only reason we could think of for movie's extreme popularity at the time was that it was among the first that put modern-style quips in the mouths of characters in an period piece. Moderately enjoyable but not really worth seeking out. HC rating: ** More boring than church.

The Sting
The same enjoyable pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford as in Butch Cassidy but with a much more interesting and complex plot. I didn't realize until reading the DVD cover that this movie won 7 Academy Awards. Would that The Academy had had such a choice in this year's nominations. Thorougly enjoyable and we plan to watch this one with the girls. HC Rating: **** Nine thumbs up!

This impulse selection filled my lack of small, foreign language (preferably Asian) movies lately. It is a sweet, charming story of a son who returns home due to a misunderstanding. He has made a successful life for himself in another city while his father and brother have remained in business at the father's bath house.

On one level the story is predictable, revealing the problems of the bath house regulars. As we expect, the returning brother has been somewhat estranged from his family and this, too, is resolved. For instance, I will never again hear "O Sole Mio" without thinking of this movie.

However, on another level, there is complexity that was unexpected. This is provided by the brother who has remained at home and by the father's revelation of his past ... whereby we understand exactly why he loves running his bath house. Quite enjoyable also are the glimpses of life in the father's corner of Beijing.

My one question is ... if anyone has seen this movie ... what is the significance of the story about the grandmother and granddaughter on their pilgrimage? Neither of us really got that. However, we will be watching this with the girls also and perhaps one of them will have an insight. Regardless it is highly recommended. HC Rating: **** Nine thumbs up!

Additional Comments
You know you might have seen too many Chinese movies when you watch the other trailers from the DVD and recognize actors from several favorite movies. Not that I know the guy's name ...

Also, I retain just enough of my one year of college Chinese to have been able to understand a fair number of words in the dialogue. This reawakened a desire to study Chinese, a language I really enjoy, at least enough to be able to pick up more movie dialogue. I went to iTunes and found ChinesePod: Learn Mandarin Chinese which seems to be very good, as of lesson 8 at any rate which I just finished this morning.

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