Last night, I saw Cape No. 7
Seeing as it is the highest grossing film ever to be produced in Taiwan (and was well on its way to highest grossing film in Taiwan's theaters), I've been meaning to see it for some time.
The story centers itself around a community throwing together - last minute, in true Taiwanese fashion - a local band to open for the big-name Japanese star and his beach-side performance. Of course, there's a love-drama brewing between the Japanese concert coordinator, and the rebellious, bad-a (a for attitude) lead singer of the band. His band mates are misfits, but to everyone's great satisfaction, they (of course) are able to pull off the show at the end of the movie, even playing an impromptu rendition of a song that the lead singer finished writing on his way to the show. (Both songs are chart toppers here in Taiwan that even I recognized. You'll hear them on any radio station, or out of any mouth of any 13-23 year old Taiwanese girl.)
Interwoven into that major plot line, was the story - through found letters - of a man written to his love during the era of World War II, when Japan occupied Taiwan. This was where I found the beauty of the movie. These letters painted a broken man's heart and why he would choose to leave the woman he loved. Though it was never fully expressed or explained in the film, what was communicated was the torment it left him in. But he was resolved. He knew what he had to do. They, of course, found the woman the letters were meant for 60 years earlier, and gave them to her in what was likely the most underwhelming - yet fittingly subtle - scenes of the entire movie.
Overall, I give this movie an A for effort... which is, of course, a kind way of saying "I know you'll do better next time." The plot line was predictable and the acting was campy, but the production quality was high, considering this started as only an entry to Taipei's Film Festival, and turned into Taiwan's highest grossing production. What I do admire about Taiwan is their Nationalism. It's different here than it is back home, but it's apparent. And it's apparent they are proud of this leap forward in the arts.
If you're hoping for a look at some stereotypes and humor of Taiwan culture, and don't mind reading English sub-titles - unless of course you speak Mandarin, Taiwanese, AND Japanese - then this movie worth your time. It's cute, and light, and easy to swallow.
After that, my quasi-roommate and I watched Hancock. I'd seen it before, but actually enjoyed it much more the second time around.
I won't say much about this movie, but one thing stuck out to me. It did a great job celebrating "Humanity." In a culture of perfection, youth and infatuation with our "super-heroes" (mind you, I'm typing this with The Dark Knight Calendar suspended over my head), they regarded the human condition and the idea of growing old with someone as a blessing.
While reflecting on these two back-to-back films, I noticed they had something in common -- and no, it wasn't subtitles.
Both these movies had an emphasis on forsaking a love by choice. Sacrifice, for the greater good of two people - or the whole of the human race, in the case of Hancock. The love for the other didn't end - not even after 60 Years of silence, in the case of Cape No. 7 - and the sacrifice happened before everything was fully understood. But nonetheless, it was carried out by a conscious choice for what was understood to be the best.
Made for some interesting reflections and internal dialog on this Valentine's Eve.
I hope all of you were able to spend the day cherishing the ones you love - despite your view on over-commercialized holidays.