It's Tuesday, DVD release day! On my shopping list: Zhang Yimou’s The Curse of the Golden Flower.
I had meant to see this one in the theatre, but instead, after eating some suspicious foie gras terrine at Bergdorf’s for lunch and having to prematurely leave dinner at L’Atelier due to the belated effects of that terrine, wound up watching this in my hotel room bed with a pizza from Ray’s in New York. DH and I were riveted to the screen from the opening scene to the credits. The movie's plot centers around a highly-dysfunctional imperial family that gives the House of Atreus a run for its money; however, whereas Clytemnestra's little plot was successfully carried out against Agamemnon by Orestes, Gong Li's Empress and Jay Chou's Prince Jai struggle a bit more in their endeavor against Chow Yun Fat's mighty Emperor. The storyline is just so-so, but the costumes and sets steal the show. As a sidebar, I must add that we were relieved and impressed to hear a vastly improved Mandarin-speaking Chow Yun Fat; for native Chinese speakers, listening to traditionally Cantonese-speaking actors painfully churn out Mandarin in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a major distraction.
After seeing director Zhang Yimou’s considerably depressing "To Live" and "Shanghai Triad," many many years ago, I was happy to hear from my dad that he made a journey towards movies with a slightly brighter theme with “The Road Home” and “Not One Less.” Then it seems he had a bit of director envy after Ang Lee’s "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as he began to explore the Wuxia genre with "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers"; both of which I appreciated for their visual beauty. In terms of this last characteristic, "the Curse of the Golden Flower" is the crown in his triumvirate of this genre. Can I just say it again? The costumes and sets are spectacular!
All in all----visually and tragically beautiful to watch. Check out the film's website for the gorgeous production photos:
Photo: Sony Classics Production Photos from Yahoo