2003.03.12

All under heaven

Comments

Saw Zhang Yimou’s latest, an historical martial arts pic by the name of Hero. Essentially, it’s an alternate take on Chen Kaige’s The Emperor and the Assassin, with spectacular wire-fu action and a fabulous cast (including Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi…) thrown in for good measure. It is, not surprisingly, very beautiful to look at, with startling use of colors and stunning compositions. One particular battle, between Maggie Cheung’s and Zhang Ziyi’s characters, takes place within a torrent of brilliant yellow leaves and is utterly breathtaking! The film also makes a nice showcase for Jet Li, who sure has made a lot of terrible films of late.

As pretty as it was to watch, the running time (a brisk 90-something minutes, effectively reduced by a Rashomon-esque plot device) works against the movie. The characters are barely developed, and when not fighting devolve into talking heads. Also, the story seems to have the distressingly simplistic message that the ends justify the means, ignoring the fact that the first emperor of China committed countless atrocities on the way to becoming the ruler of “all under heaven.” This is something which Chen’s earlier film portrays quite effectively, and in a time when people seem to be blindly reaching for simple answers to complex questions, I’m not sure Hero’s message sits too well with me. Still, if you can filter that out, it can be a real treat.


Struck by meta-deja-vu today, three moments + one feeling: De Tarde, Vendo o Mar: The Sound of Brazil is a strange creature, a Brazilian bossa tribute album to Japanese pop singer/songwriter Yumi Matsutoya. Was stealing a listen, mostly due to Bebel Gilberto’s presence as vocalist, when I started to get the feeling that I’d heard two of the songs before. Realized quickly that they — “Mensagem com batom” and “Envolvida em ternura” — had been used, in their (admittedly very different) original versions, as the opening and closing themes of Miyazaki’s Majo no takkyubin (a.k.a. Kiki’s Delivery Service). Later on, Pizzicato Five’s “Baby Love Child,” which I’m now convinced was featured in a Futurama episode I’ve seen more than once; and finally (and strangest of all), Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” whose nagging familiarity turns out to be a result of its use as the closing credits music in Chris Coutts’s Tales for the L33T: Romeo + Juliet (!!).



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\n\nStruck by meta-deja-vu today, three moments + one feeling: De Tarde, Vendo o Mar: The Sound of Brazil is a strange creature, a Brazilian bossa tribute album to Japanese pop singer/songwriter Yumi Matsutoya. Was stealing a listen, mostly due to Bebel Gilberto's presence as vocalist, when I started to get the feeling that I'd heard two of the songs before. Realized quickly that they -- \"Mensagem com batom\" and \"Envolvida em ternura\" -- had been used, in their (admittedly very different) original versions, as the opening and closing themes of Miyazaki's Majo no takkyubin (a.k.a. Kiki's Delivery Service). Later on, Pizzicato Five's \"Baby Love Child,\" which I'm now convinced was featured in a Futurama episode I've seen more than once; and finally (and strangest of all), Massive Attack's \"Teardrop,\" whose nagging familiarity turns out to be a result of its use as the closing credits music in Chris Coutts's Tales for the L33T: Romeo + Juliet (!!).\n\n

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