This is a quality independant film...and its from China. Yet another subtitled masterpeice. Well, mostly a masterpiece. The thing is, if you love half naken old Asian men, you will LOVE this film.
The opening scene has really nothing to do with most of the movie, but its really fun. You know how they have sleeping pods in Japan, I could believe they have showers that are similar in China. Pretty much, you purchase how long you would like your shower to be. Your clothes are steamed while you shower, and just like the classic car wash machines, you stand there and are cleaned in the shower. looks like it cold be a comedy right?
Then the movie actually begins. A son returns home (a traditional bathhouse) to visit his father and younger brother. This scene cracked me up so hard. I told Daniel that he must watch it, memorize it, and do the same thing to his brother when we see them in Florida. It consists of the younger brother walking up to the older, caressing his face, leaning against his shoulder, then running away. Beautiful. Hilarious. So ackward. Its in the imdb trailer here.
A few minutes later I realized the younger brother is handicapped. Instant guilt for laughing at him. Then I remebered, its a movie. There is no way the actor is really handicapped. Sweet, freedom to laugh.
In a conversation between the two brothers we discover the real reason why the older son came home. He got a post card. And not just any post card. On the post card was a drawing of a sad person sitting on the edge of a bed with another person in it. Older brother asks, "Why did you send this?" "Its me and dad. He is sleeping." Just when you think your father has died.
Ah another quality moment.
There is a time when a patron comes in because his wife has beaten him up. That character has a nice subplot, an intriguing story as to why him and his wife have so many issues, and a heartwarming "awwwww" moment with a happy ending.
Aside from the the silly parts, the film is clearly a drama. The bath is in an old section of Bejing, and there has been talk of the whole district getting torn down for a new shopping mall. *SPOILER ALERT, SKIP TO NEXT Paragraph* There is also family drama: First the older son loses the younger one in the city, then the funny foreshadowing post card comes true. I know, its a lot less funny when its true.
Overall, a good film. I would watch it again. Daniel didn't really get into it, and wanted to skip forward a few chapters, and then didn't watch the end. He missed out. Its even a short film, just over an hour and a half.
Its really is a good film, especially if you have gotten close to any developmentally disabled people. It takes on the idea of institutionalization, and acceptance. And hey, there is even some great Italian Opera singing, afterall its a shower. There has to be singing.
The film is pretty well loved in all the independant film leagues as well. It was the World Cinema Selection at Sundance in 2000, as well as getting awards in Toronto Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Rotterdam Film FEstival, the San Sebastian Film festical, and being moted as an official selection by the museum of modern art. Don't ask me why the cover art says its a comedy. Its not really. There are comedic moments, but its really not a comedy.
Oh and its reated PG-13. Mostly for the nudity. There is a point when there are two young boys (under 10) frolicking naked in the bathhouse. Supposedly there is also some language, but I don't remember it. Maybe its for the cricket fights? Those are pretty intense. ;-D
Crazy like a Fox? Pfft More like crazy like "The Cow".
The Cow is brought to us by the home-made black and white syling movie-makers of Iran. Smuggled out in the 70s it's considered to likely be the best Iranian film made to date. That isn't saying much. The entire movie spanning 100 minutes has so little plot that it's amazing how much time it takes to tell the tale. Don't worry though the movie still has bandits (that sometimes look like ninjas), random great characters (like the man who always talks through his window and never leaves his house), and a love story, well actually two.
Hassan is the one man in town that is lucky enough to have a cow. He loves his cow; he plays with the cow. He walks around with the cow and picks food for it. He shoos away local children who want to touch or feed the cow. He seems in all accounts to regard the cow more than he regards his wife. Yet, for some unknown reason he goes on a day trip and doesn't bring the cow. The cow almost immediately dies, presumably from separation anxiety. The townsfolk are so concerned about what will happen to Hassan when he finds out, they decide to hide the cow and tell Hassan it ran away, so he won't get upset.
Madness ensues as Hassan is unwilling to accept the idea that HIS cow would leave. In fact, he's certain his cow never left because it's still there. He quickly degrades from believing he knows the cow is there to taking the cow's place. To even calling for himself to protect him when he feels threatened. The movie progresses a little more simply to show us what happens to a man who both thinks and insists he's a cow.
Overall the movie is odd. The best parts of it are the mad cow moments. Anytime you see a man-cow throw himself into a support beam, then break it off and attack his/his master's friends you know its a good film. This alone must be the one support for all the awards that were given the film. Hassan (Ezatolah Entezami) received the Golden Hugo in Chicago International Film Festival in 1971. He also went on to make many more random movies, that might or might not be great. Who knows??
Three Stars for Absurdity
So in our, we have library cards and live close enough to walk, and we need something to do together, we rented library movies. Our library has a HUGE foreign film section (especially compared to some of the other sections) so we ended up with two 1960s Italian foreign films and James Bond Die Another Day. Good mix right? Well after watching the films Daniel said we should consider reviewing these in a blog. So the creation started.
This little gem is about a man that has been married for a dozen or so years, has no kids, is wealthy, and a bit of an incestuous pedophile. Yes thats right, a pervy old man. Well, thats not how he is portrayed, but in America, thats how he would have been.
Ferdinando (played by Marcello Mastroianni) is married to a smothering woman who tends to his every need. Lets just say, this woman needs a kid, a pet, or a hobby to distract her attention, but since they have none of those, she dotes constantly over her husband. Also note that the wife (Daniela Rocca) was actually a beauty queen and her big break was putting on the ugly in this little diddy. Thats right, the woman had a matronly hairstyle, unibrow, and mustasche. Nothing says home like a hairy wife.
Nothing, but a first cousin who lives in the other wing of the mansion. She also sleeps in a -scandalous for its time - negligee with her windows open. That means Ferdinando AND his father can both get their peeping Tom on. Needless to say, Ferdinando is blinded by the childlike beauty of his cousin and wishes he were married to her. Alas, divorce is illegal. What to do?
The newspaper solves that with a story of a woman that killed her husband when she caught him in bed with a lover. The law books say if the courts deem it a "honor" killing, you only get 4-7 years. Lets see 7 years plus 15...eek the cousin would be 23 and far too old to still be desirable, but 4 is doable. And Ferdianand sets out on a mission. A mission to find a man that will attract his wife so she can cheat and he can kill her and get the girl.
This movie is so messed up, and hilarious. You may think foreign comedies aren't all that funny, but this one has some great situational comedy, as well as random absurdity. We recommend it to everyone that doesn't mind subtitles, and wants a look at what a man will do in order to get that hot young 15 year old that lives down the hall. Yeah its like that. We like it so much, we have considered planning a little movie night, just to make others watch it. Good clean Italian fun.