Sunday, July 24, 2005

Movie Reviews

The two movies I will review today are interestingly poles apart.

First of all, Banana in a Nutshell, the New Zealand made personal documentary of a 'Banana' (an ethnic Chinese person who has lived abroad for much of or all of their lives) and her quest to get her parent's blessing for her desired marriage with a white Kiwi. It was a colourful voyage through the life of another person, with very little held back. It bears the truth that truth sometimes makes the best stories, rather than fiction, a fact that may be spurring the popularity of documentaries. The recorded events are richer than actors could instill and its pertinance never stronger.

The banana in question is an aspiring filmmaker, which allows her to explore her craft at the same time. The composition of the 55-minute film was entertaining and nice devices used to lighten it at times. Being a world premiere, the filmmaker was there to answer questions, along with her long suffering fiance. Some of these really broadened the meaning of the movie, and addressed far more than the film directly alluded to, which was great.

Second of all, A Wayward Cloud, a Cai Mingliang movie, with many of the hallmarks and actors again in for the voyage. This time we follow the reunion of two characters from a previous movie (What time is it there? which you don't need to have seen to appreciate). The camera contemplates every scene, with long takes on every action and minimal dialogue. For the unacquainted, this is disconcerting, "Make something happen, damn it!" In fact, it may be the case that the two, who fall in love this time (or at least more visably), may say just one line in the whole film. This is all stylistic to the director, who won an award for this movie. The movie also was punctuated by song and dance numbers to either alleviate (or accentuate) the silence.

Overall, I saw it as a love story, of the coming together of two very unique people. One had to slowly overcome his uncertainty of the physicality of love, caused by his job as a porn star. The other had to overcome her shyness with love and her introversion. The culmination of the movie is the most surreal love scenes you'll ever see, as finally his secret profession is suddenly known and she reaches out to accept him for it.

It is a highly sexual film too although as it is porn, it is shown as hollow and impersonal. The lead actor in fact spends at least half of his film time nude and most of that simulating or having sex. The movie contains many extraordinary scenes. The opening watermelon love scene, the big dick song and dance, the woman giving birth to the watermelon, it all made sense in this mesmerising film.

The two films are polar opposites in that A Wayward Cloud is acting to create neither reality nor phony movie reality. It manages to create two parallel universes, the normal Taiwan with monotonous Taiwan construction, pornography and silly TV news and another surreal world that exists between the two leads. A Banana in a Nutshell on the other hand sought to grab reality and use the movie format to portray it.

Overall, both were immensely satisfying and recommendable.

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