Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day = A couple movies with another guy

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.


the girl in stiletto said...

Sounds like a true romantic love story despite it's predictability. I'd love to watch it someday, but just not today LOL. I'm pretty sure I'll be crying my eyeballs out if I am to watch it today, or soon.

Gavin said...

think i'll give Cape No.7 a viewing, just so happens i speak 'Mandarin, Taiwanese, AND Japanese', although if native tongues were to hear me they would be deeply offended at my ramblings.

yeah i found Hancock a good entertaining watch, am not a fan of will smith at all but he was certainly more watchable in this.

Happy valentines! all over now for another year, thank god.

Don said...

I see the "passionate" non-hug in the movie poster.

(Evidence to support your previous post?)

insomniaclolita said...

How was your sunday dinnner?
love, love, love our talks :) Thanks for listening to me rambling

Young Traveler said...

Very reflective, Chase. Certainly something to think about.



Rachel Tamed said...

Will Smith can do no wrong, I even catch myself humming the Fresh Prince tune every once in a while. Campy Tiawanese films really don't do it for me though, so I will probably rely souly on your review and nevers see that one.

Glad you found some good time for reflection.

Oladapo Ogundipe said...

Hope you had a great one

Samantha said...

Oh! I love subtitled movies!
This is far from a joke, I even watch english movies with subtitles. I actually might look to see if I can find it somewhere.

boye said...

i love you. how do you have such a following?

Boye said...

follow me baby. what are you doing in taiwan again? and what do you plan on doing when you are more grown?

Ryan (LWM) said...

"Quasi-roommate" ?

Chase said...

@Don, I'm glad you saw it as such! That was honestly the most awkward moment in the whole movie. Because it made the poster, you could imagine how "built up" and "important" it was supposed to be, but when they ran at each other, bumped chests and then decided what to do with their arms, I seriously shifted in my seat out of discomfort.

@Stiletto, I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets choked up in the most ridiculous movies.

@Gavin, if you end up seeing the film, I'd love to know what you think. Maybe we can discuss it afterward with our deep understanding of Mandarin

@lolita, dinner was great! I love me some tacos :)

@Jessie, it was a good thinking. But, you know how I am with my thinking..

@Rachel, I'm glad we share similar passion for Will Smith. Go ahead and just call it good when it comes to Cape No. 7, thou. Let me save you the trouble

@Sam, I want to know what you think! (hooray subtitles!)

@Ryan, "quasi" because he's actually more my "floor"-mate than "room"-mate the only thing we share is a bathroom and a staircase... but I didn't much feel like explaining all that in the post. Glad that's what you got out of it though ;)

Simply Me said...

Your blog looks amazing, can't wait to follow daily!! :)

Charlee said...

What a wonderful weblog entry! I'm always down for some foreign cinema although I think Taiwan has thus far escaped my palate...perhaps I shall have to check that film out, it sounds like a good place to start. :)

Very interesting thoughts on the subject of sacrificing. The notion has occupied my thoughts quite often recently; the idea of giving up someone not only in spite of, but also because of, your love for them is so counterintuitive but probably a more accurate depiction of the reality of life and love than most films capture.
At least it aligns quite well with my life! Most unfortunately!

I love your weblog, thanks for the chance to reflect :)

deepteshpoetry said...

Nice....kinda awesome.I do have a poem on V-Day on my blog.Pls do chk it out.It'll b nice 2 hear 4m u again.Hope u remember me.


Chase said...

@Charlee, I'm glad you got the chance to reflect a bit. Sacrifice is a beautiful reality, but is most certainly counter-intuitive in our culture. "Backwards Wisdom" as I've heard it put.

@Deeptesh, thanks for stopping by again! I'm checking out that poem

Deeptesh said...

Thanks 4 visiting my site Chase...I'm sooo glad esp bcoz u have started following my blog.And I've put u up on my sidebar.Have a nice day!!


goldensparks said...

Hi friend.. Interesting post.. keep up the good work.. Do visit my blog and post your comments.. take care mate.. Cheers!!!

Paris said...

what a romantic story...true love your blog!

Anna Lefler said...

Man, you write great posts.

Make sure and move home in time to blog for the ol' U.S. when the blogging olympics roll around, ok?