Monday, August 30, 2004

Movie: Hero (2004)

Who’d have thought that one of last year’s Oscar nominees – which you can already find on DVD – would top the box office? Miramax deserves plenty of credit for releasing Zhang Yimou’s historical martial arts epic theatrically, because this movie demands to be seen on the big screen.

The plot unfolds RASHOMON-style, as nameless warrior Jet Li presents himself to the king of one of the ancient kingdoms of China to explain how he single-handedly dispatched three ruthless assassins. The king’s questions force Li to revise his story, with each version bringing us closer to the truth. Plenty of movies use this multiform technique to cheat, concealing information as a way of amping up suspense (Exhibit A: John Travolta’s BASIC). Here it’s employed for a specific reason that doesn’t become apparent until Li’s final tale is told. Ultimately, the film conveys a complicated message about politics and history in a dynamic, visual way.

Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, and CROUCHING TIGER’s Zhang Ziyi also star; I can’t remember the last movie I saw with such an attractive cast. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle is the film’s real hero, crafting a beautiful color scheme for each variation of Li’s story.

TV: Seinfeld

No matter how many times I hear it, the outgoing message on George’s answering machine, sung to the theme from THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, cracks me up:

“Where could I be?/Believe it or not, I’m not home.”

Miscellaneous: Links

Kevin Smith is making a sequel to CLERKS. I know JERSEY GIRL tanked pretty hard, dude, but come on.

A big shock this weekend was hearing Roger Ebert give thumbs up to the new version of Vincent Gallo’s film THE BROWN BUNNY. This after Ebert called the earlier cut the worst film ever to appear in competition at Cannes, which prompted Gallo to place a curse on Ebert’s prostate. Now all is forgiven. Come feel the love.