Monday, September 29, 2008

Crouching Tiggers and Hidden Geckos

Film club was back at full strength last night as Millbrooker Towers filled with Dongs, Shazzerooneypooses and Frankenkeiths all bearing drinkables and munchables.

When we first started getting DVD rentals through the post, we signed up with Amazon and had a pretty decent service; Amazon then sold its rental business to Love Film and things went downhill rapidly. We recently left Love Film's list of customers in high dudgeon after several months of poor service and worse information. Enough of that, we've just signed up for a trial period with Cinema Paradiso and await our first film from them with bated breath and eager anticipation.
In the meantime, we're relying on the not very extensive Millbrooker Towers DVD collection - much of which consists of freebies from newspapers. Last night's presentation began inauspiciously as we attempted to watch the Argentinian road movie "Familia Rodante" (photo above) but gave up very quickly because the subtitles were too small to read. A choice of alternatives was offered up to the attendant celebrants at the alter of celluloid.

Dong persuaded us that the best idea would be Ang Lee's 2000/2001 martial arts multiple Oscar winner Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, a copy of which we've been harbouring, unwatched, for a few years now.After a false start when we couldn't work out the subtitling and ended up watching the dubbed version (ugh), we managed to locate the Mandarin with English subtitles version and settled down for the duration.This is a lot of people's favourite film and makes even more people's top ten list (well, those sad enough to keep such lists), so I guess I'm just going to have to be sacrilegious.

It's a long long time since I've sat through such a lot of unadulterated tripe. The plot is almost as thin as it's possible to get without actually being made of gossamer, the acting is unconvincing and the faux mysticism just got right up my nose. Any one of those three, I can forgive and carry on watching enjoying what's not too bad, but with all of those drivelling from the screen at once I just couldn't take the film even remotely seriously.

On the plus side the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed with an eye for the balletic; also the locations and sets are drop-dead gorgeous. Sadly, imaginative fights, clever stunts and pretty mountains do not make a good film. This one lacks drama; even the supposed ardour of the young anti-heroine and her lover seemed contrived and pretentious. The repressed desires of the older "Wudan" trained protagonists is similarly unconvincing and unsatisfying. Is the "Wudan" martial arts training they keep on about simply a not too subtle way of Ang Lee admitting to wudan performances?

Not a lot more to say about it really; I reckon it's a stinker. Others might well differ. Dong enjoyed the fight scenes, but no one else could find much of a good word to say about it. Sorry, CTHD fans. It's tripe; quite pretty tripe, but still tripe.

1 comment:

lucy lowe said...

So glad to find someone else who hates it! We call it 'crouching boredom, hidden tedium'. I've NO idea why so many people like it, unless they're idiots. Which is feasible. You should do your top 10list of fav films though, I'm sure your discerning public would agree with most of the choices.