Raising Cane and Making it Rain in Looper

Hello, me, it’s me again!

I’m 60 years-old.  I’m retired and living in Sri Lanka on a tea farm I purchased for my long-lost love with whom I recently reunited.  Don’t ask…just go with this fantasy, okay?  She’s lying in bed next to me with her back against mine.  A balmy midnight breeze blows in through the window and the white curtains scale up the walls and then billow down.  My mind is similarly rising and falling in humidified thought.  I can’t sleep.  I saw something today that reminded me of a film I once saw a long time ago but I can’t quite place the moment or the film.  She’s half-awake, too.  She turns over to face me and runs her hand through my hair.  I whisper to her, “Were you there with me?  Do you remember that movie?  It was soooo good.  You know, the one about time travel where the guy was on the run from his future self and he hid out on that farm in Kansas with that beautiful woman and her little kid who could…” 

…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Behold the litany of reasons Rian Johnson’s Looper is an instant genre classic I will fondly recall when I’m 60 years-old: Continue reading

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The Beijing Olympics

Now Playing in Beijing:  TRIUMPH OF THE PAGEANT

On the eighth hour of the eighth day of the eighth month in 2008 (Beijing time), the Communist run economic powerhouse and 1.5 billion people strong Chinese Machine finally had their coming out party.

The first images are streaming in from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.  Famed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (who has been responsible for Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower) staged the epic event with all the grand pageantry of his signature films.

The images are dreadfully beautiful and sumptuous, though the particular slide show linked below also features a hilarious shot of our President Dubya and the wife Laura with horrified looks on their faces as they are shown to their seats.  Could they be afraid of a little propaganda?  I highly recommend clicking the link and flipping through all the photographs to get the full effect of the power of what has been staged:

http://www.nbcolympics.com/destinationbeijing/photos/galleryid=183709.html?GT1=39003

I’ve been trying to avoid political commentary on this blog lately, but these amazing images couldn’t go unnoticed.  Why does it all remind me of Leni Reifenstahl, Triumph of the Will, and the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics?

The Opening Ceremonies will be televised tonight on NBC.

To keep track of the overall Medal Standings as the Olympics progress, click below:

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml

Written by David H. Schleicher

A Review of John Curran’s “The Painted Veil”

 Exquisitely Layered, Haunting, and Clever Period Romance, 14 January 2007
9/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

John Curran’s nearly pitch perfect film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Painted Veil” begins slowly and patiently, with leisurely flashbacks that elliptically bring us to a singularly absurd predicament: circa 1925, a British doctor (Edward Norton in his second romantic lead following “The Illusionist”) has brought his lovely young wife (an entrancing Naomi Watts) into the middle of a Chinese cholera epidemic purely out of spite. It’s a wickedly clever little set-up that becomes increasingly more complex and absorbing.

The note-perfect and delicately layered performances of Watts and Norton, two thespians typically acclaimed for their edgy and independent work and playing against type, are anchored with the literary genius of Maugham and Curran’s keen eye and steady hand behind the camera. It’s all perfectly accentuated by the brilliantly subversive music score by Alexandre Desplat (doing his best work since “Birth”). These cleverly designed elements coalesce deliciously into a fully fleshed-out whole, and allow “The Painted Veil” to grow in your mind organically and slowly slip under your skin like an infectious disease.

Ron Nyswaner does a great job of translating Maugham’s writing to the screen. Virtually nothing is lost. That keen British wit, the dramatic sense of irony, and the sincere exploration of many heady themes including loveless marriages, adultery, imperialism, charity, religion, and redemption are all captured beautifully by director Curran and screenwriter Nyswaner. Watts and Norton are given plenty to chew on, not only great lines, but great scenes full of lush scenery, and beautiful and textured visual details that serve as perfect backdrops for their complex and unpredictable relationship.

Back in the heyday of Merchant-Ivory, it seemed like this type of literary minded period-piece was a dime a dozen. There hasn’t been a hugely successful film of this type since 1996’s “The English Patient.” We haven’t seen a worthwhile film in this genre since Neil Jordon’s underrated “The End of the Affair” in 1999, which not coincidentally was an adaptation of one of the great novels from Maugham’s fellow Brit and contemporary, Graham Greene, and addressed many of the same themes.

What “The Painted Veil” lacks in epic sweep it makes up for in scores with its nuanced performances and subversive outlook on romance and true love. Its finely landscaped images of China are transfixing, but it’s the look on Norton’s face when he realizes the woman his wife has become, and the glimmer of a tear forming in Watts’ eye when she realizes what she’s done that will haunt you.

Originally published on the Internet Movie Database.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0446755/usercomments-36