Sunday, September 17, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bu San

(81 minutes)(2004)(Not rated)

Tonight, taking a break from doing nothing, I decided to take a peek at a new movie I just added to my vast collection of movies. It's a foreign movie and I had no idea what it was about. The English translated name is "Goodbye Dragon Inn." It is always fun to peek into a movie without any prejudged idea of what it could be. Of course, I had my share of unpleasant surprises, and forced to watch movies of dubious quality. Once in a while, it's a good one, but that is rare. This one? I am still trying to decide. You be the judge!

After about 15 minutes into the movie, I thought there was something wrong with my DVD player. It seems like the playing is in slow motion. This can't be. What is this? Time to look it up on the internet. I like a trusted movie site (imdb) that seems to have detailed information about any movie that you would ever need to look up, so I go there to get this:

The subject of cinema, of the mix of loneliness and connection that is part of being in a movie audience, is the concern of this sad, beautiful, minimalist composition by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang (WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?). The action takes place Inside a Taipei movie theater operated by a lonely clubfooted woman (Shiyang Chi-Chen) whose slow steps echo through the empty corridors and aisles, as if measuring out the feet of celluloid that make up the film itself...

Not Rated

Theatrical: Sep 17, 2004
Video: Feb 15, 2005


Foreign Films, Chinese/Mandarin, Action, Theatrical Release, Cinema, Film About Film

So, for a start, this is saying the movie is good! Really? I couldn't tell and I am watching it! So, the next natural question is: What does "Rotten Tomatoes" say about Bu San?

To my big surprise, it got a high rating: 81% as it is rated a rare "Fresh" as in "Not Rotten." Wow! There is something I am missing here!

Fresh 81% by Rotten Tomatoes

So, let me try to convey to you a taste of this strange movie in the hope that you would be incited to look for it and watch it yourself, if you would dare. In this movie, one character is a woman (later it turns out that she is quite attractive looking) with a pronounced impediment in her right leg so she walks very slowly in the manner a person walks with a prosthetic limb.

In one of the scenes, I sat to endure the director showing this woman walking up three flights of stairs, one slow step at a time to end up following a long corridor and finally disappearing behind a door whose shot lingers for more than a minute. Each scene cut must last about 2 to 3 minutes.

But that was not all, in a following scene, the movie shows a wide shot of the inside of the theater which is the main subject of the movie where the woman starts at the X. Step by step, she stumps to A, turns left to B and proceeds to C, all in one LONG static shot.

This first scene starts at 02 minutes 19 seconds...

This scene above ends at 06 minutes 53 seconds so this long static shot lasted a whopping 4 minutes 34 seconds!

Then the frame above is shown another 3 - 4 minutes where NOTHING happens. I thought my player froze!

With infinite patience, I was very curious to see how all this turns out, so I sat through this movie in its entirety. The end, after 81 minutes, was worth it and I was rewarded with a nice song that ended the ordeal. If you listen to the sound track of the song Chong Feng rendered by Ge Lan below, you can get a flavor of the pace of this strange movie by noting that the song began after almost a minute of rain audio.

The words are from the subtitle, and I hope that it does say what the song says...

Chong Feng
by Ge Lan

I remember
Under the moon
I remember
Before the flowers
So much of the past
Lingers in my heart
Half is bitter
Half is sweet
Year after year
I can't let go
Can't let go
Can't let go
Under the moon
Before the flowers
Can't let go
Can't let go
I'll remember with longing forever

I remember
Under the moon...

Amazingly, the first line of dialogue appears 40 minutes into the film. For me, this is a first.

Below is what the page from "Rotten Tomatoes" web in which expert movie critics opined about "Goodbye Dragon Inn:"

A droll gem that celebrates movie love with feeling and deadpan humor.

It certainly stands as Tsai's most skillful work -- he manages to keep viewer attention for a full 81 minutes with a minimum of action and dialogue.

A movie of elegant understatement and considerable formal intelligence.
This is one of the most gorgeous and maturely composed movies you'll see this year.

Its simple, meticulously composed frames are full of mystery and feeling; it's an action movie that stands perfectly still. What really sticks with you is the picture's aura of twilight vibrancy, and the deep pleasure Tsai takes in savoring subtle emotions that other filmmakers might not even register.

Though the film's deliberate pace is sometimes frustrating, it casts a quietly powerful spell and the memory of its images lingers provocatively long after they've flickered into darkness. A masterful meditation on both the singular and collective experience of going to the movies. Tsai's elegy to a now-departed Taipei theater is also a beautiful love poem to the movies.

Ming-liang writes an eloquent billet-doux that has the heart-felt sensibilities and emotions of what loving and living with film are about.

Hypnotic in effect but ultimately rather irritating, Goodbye, Dragon Inn will entice those viewers who like oblique, allusive cinema.

This is a funny, sad, stunningly smart movie about the end of movies, made in Tsai's inimitable, unblinking style.

Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang's stunning "Goodbye, Dragon Inn," which takes place in a faded, decrepit Taipei movie palace on the night of its last-ever showing,

"Goodbye, Dragon Inn" is virtually wordless
The theater in which Tsai filmed the movie -- it's called the Fu-Ho
"Goodbye, Dragon Inn" is openly elegiac, and yet it's far from depressing.

Bu San won quite a few awards, so the critics were not alone in their rave:

Special Jury Award
Chicago International Film Festival Gold Plaque
Chlotrudis Award
Golden Horse Award
Golden Tulip
Award of the City of Nantes
Venice Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize

I am quite puzzled and I know what I need to do: watch this movie a few more times. Do you believe me?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What to do? What to do?

Days like these, actually months like these make me want to cry, or better, consult Nostradamus. This guy, who lived in the 16th century, wrote in quatrains, and he may have written to advise me what I ought to do, because I am at my wit's end. I am at a loss, I am in the mist and my compass is not pointing North. For at least three or four weeks, I have been fighting a monumental problem that profoundly affects my life, making me losing sleep, ages me prematurely. Me worry? Since when? Since I learned that there is something in my garage that eats my trash! I hate that!

What to do? What to do?

The first clues I got were when I examined the cherry seeds, from the delicious cherries we had, neatly packed away in the trash bin awaiting to be hauled to the curb for trash collection the next day. These cherry seeds were picked sparkling clean, to the core, and instead of being neatly packed, they were all over the garage floor! Must be a mouse, or heaven forbid, a rat that sneaked into the garage. I hate these animals, especially when I have to go to the garage at nights, alone! I still have goose bumps when I think about the white of the eyes from the giant rat in "Lady and the tramp." Brrrrrrr!!!

Reluctantly, I dug out a rat trap, and shuddered at the unpleasant chore of setting it with apetizing bait. I don't like this, but it's him (or is it her) or me! For a few nights, the yummy peanut butter was eaten clean and the trap triggered with nothing to show. Wow! A smart rat! One time, the trap was dragged a good 10 feet from one location to the next. Must be a BIG rat! After observing the trap being mistreated in this manner, I had second thought, but had no idea what to do next, that is until one fateful night. I had to venture out to the garage in the dead of the night, and heard noise on the top shelf.

Who's there? A possum big as three giant rats combined, that's who! She (yes, it's a she. How do I know? read on,) looked at me with disdain and showed a mood of picking a fight. No problem, I picked up a long and BIG stick and we engaged in a duel for about 10 minutes. The garage door was wide open but she was always retreating in the opposite direction. Run, run, run inside to clear the garage for a more advantageous battle field, I told myself. By the time I got back with two sets of keys and moved the two cars out. She possum was nowhere to be seen. Vanished into thin air!

First puzzle: did she escape out of the garage? Wishful thinking, or was she still ambushing me from the comfort of a warm and dry large rent free palace? Can't tell. So, I called it the night. Next day, second puzzle: did she escape out of the garage? Wishful thinking or was she still ambushing me from the comfort of a warm and dry large rent free palace? Still can't tell. What to do? What to do?

If you read one of my previous blog, you may remember that I mentioned an episode I had to deal with and evict a family of critters living in my roof's crawl space. I still kept as souvenir a possum/racoon trap so now it comes in very handy. Piece of cake, and this is a very humane solution, I like it! According to law, once a critter is trapped, by law you MUST "dispose of" (meaning terminate) him/her and NOT PERMITTED to release him/her to the wild because it is illegal! I don't know about that, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

This is a smart possum! After a few nights of eating my half bananas without triggering the trap, I gave up the battle of wit and let her hibernate for a while. But my savant neighbor told me that the poor critter may die of dehydration! More work for me now that I have to supply free refreshment as well. Oh well! Not the end of the world.

Then I was distracted by other depressing events such as rainy days without end for several days in a row, a pseudo hurricane Ernesto that fizzled and vanished without leaving a trace. Our poor possum was demoted in importance to secondary, and I forgot all about her until this morning, when my son, all excited, woke me up with the earth shattering news that WE GOT THE POSSUM! Sure enough, we got a critter in the trap, very nice! But wait a minute, what is this? Is this possum some kind of a Houdini? It was a lot bigger when we put up the big midnight fight in the garage. It is now much smaller!??? It's a baby, that's why! Arrrggghhhhh.... I am sure I now have a family of possum in my garage! The mother is so darn smart she ate the bait out of the trap every time, and all we managed was to trap a baby. How do they grow so quick? Wow! Take a look at the baby that was trapped:

A new tenant family!!!!!

Needless to say, I did the unthinkable, I realeased, with all its illegality, the baby in my backyard. The poor fellow was fierce and tried to put up a fight, but I ignored his/her provocation. Please get out and go free. Take good care of yourself. I hope he/she does not come back and sneak into my garage to be reunited with his/her family.

Now, the battle will be raging. How many to evict? It ain't going to be easy, and where in the heck do they hide? I emptied my garage twice and made a ruckus twice, looking for tenants to no avail. A true mystery! Invisible critters! That's all I need. I am thinking of consulting Nostradamus to see what he has to say. Although dead, I am sure he can reach beyond the grave to give me a clue as to which of his quatrains I should consult.

Let's see... quatrains, quatrains...

Here's one in Century # 2, Quatrain # 24:

BĂȘtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner;
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera,
En caige de fer le grand sera treisner,
Quand rien enfant de Germain observa. (II.24)

Translated by some obscur scholar as ...

Beasts ferocious from hunger will swim across rivers:
The greater part of the region will be against the Hister,
The great one will cause it to be dragged in an iron cage,
When the German child will observe nothing.

If you want my honest opinion, his French was not so good, but that's what the internet people believe so I am just going with the flow, with tongue in cheek, I must say.

I din't know that they are Germans, these critters, but nonetheless, the German child is gone because I released him/her earlier today so "the child will observe nothing" True! The great one will no doubt be dragged in an iron cage. Didn't know her name was Hister! I am not sure about the rivers this Hister mother had to swim across to land here in my garage, but it could conceivably be true.

Wow! Nostradamus saw this coming a few hundred years ago. It was written! It was to be done! Like Ramses II would say!

I know I have bought a dozen surveillant cameras that I never bother to deploy. This is a golden occasion to use that money spent. OK. I'll do it. I plan to install the motion detector and a couple of low light video cameras in my garage to find out where they are hiding. With some luck, I can record the invaders' activities and will post the clips here.

Watch out! Here I come, ready or not!