East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, March 20, 2006

SFIAAFF '06~!: Slo-mo suffering [festival note]

Bridge to the Sun (Etienne Périer)

This time James Shigeta courts a Tennessee belle (Carroll Baker), then the Second World War happens. It's pretty bad, banalising history, but it's still blandly likable. Périer's direction is a little ponderous, which doesn't suit Shigeta, or anyone else in the cast, none of who can provide the energy the film lacks until shit starts blowing up. The movie asks where the loyalties of lovers from warring nations should lie. Its answer is it's OK to live with the baddies as long as you're a pacifist, because war sucks. This is all very admirable, but it sidesteps what's interesting about the issue.

Letter from an Unknown Woman (Xu Jinglei)

Gusssshhh taken seriously. Never saw the Ophüls version; I expect it's even more florid, and given its reputation it better be better. The cinematography by Mark Lee Pin-Bing, filled with lots of his usual sedate camera movements, is dusky, languid and compforting. Though it's the main point of interest, it's not really appropriate. When your story's about a girl in love with her neighbour, who moves away, has her neighbour forget her, grows up, meets the neighbour again, has an affair with him and gets dumped and forgotten again (and that's just the first eight years of an eighteen year saga) you need either to go expressionist, or to be D.W. Griffith. Writer/director/star Xu is too mannered in the first two of her functions. But she gets Lee to shoot her like she's Joan Fontaine, so it's not a total loss.


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