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oscar run viii: spider-man 2 (sam raimi, 2004)

oscar run vii: house of flying daggers (zhang yimou, 2004)

Spoilers ahead:

House of Flying Daggers is a gorgeous movie that well deserves its Oscar nomination for best cinematography. The primary actors are gorgeous ... many of the showcase scenes (mostly fighting, but also dancing and even kissing) are gorgeous ... nature itself is gorgeous, as if it only existed to serve the needs of the film's creators. This movie elicits as many jaw-dropping "wow that's gorgeous" moments as any film in recent years.

It's not enough, though. There's something amiss when gorgeous snow starts falling on a gorgeous landscape, and you know the only reason for the snow is because it's gorgeous. It's not necessary for the plot ... it's not necessary for anything other than how pretty it looks. When Zhang Ziyi starts bleeding out of her mouth, she's gorgeous, the blood is gorgeous, it's all gorgeous.

At times the movie seems to be in the Powerful Women genre so common in Hong Kong films ... Zhang Ziyi has some delightful action scenes. But the movie is overrun by sentimental weepiness, which requires that her character must come to a sad end. The film seems to be setting up a climactic, colossal battle between the two main forces, but that angle oddly drops out of sight in favor of a Neanderthal match of the two main male characters. It's not nearly as satisfying, and it's rather inexplicable (although Robin claims it's just that the colossal battle doesn't matter because all that is important is the central love triangle).

House of Flying Daggers
is the Elvira Madigan of its day. Whether that's a compliment or a pan is up to your subjective judgment.


Eric H

Hi, Steve,

Amember me?

Anyway: the thing I thought while watching _House_ was that I finally understood something about that kind of Hong Kong/Asian cinema, and that the understanding came through this film's astonishing excess of... well let me just say it this way:

House is "about," in some fundamental way, the fact that air is a liquid. I basically think that it's a film whose entire plot structure revolves around the liquidity and viscosity of air, and that almost everything it does is designed to show off that fact, to point out its incredible beauty, etc. The plot is almost (almost) incidental to that fact, I think, though the plot is also an occasion to run liquids across bodies and faces and to wrap the bodies of the strange creatures who swim in air in a variety of clothing that will for the most part extend their relationship to the air (long sleeves, flowy outfits) rather than destroy or deny it. The only people in the film who are "hard" are the soldiers. Like stones.

Anyway. Just what I thought.

By the way if you haven't yet check out which is a group project w/ friends of mine.


I couldn't agree with you more.>Karen has helped me try to see more into that snow falling battle scene, but it still disappoints me.

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