One good thing about extra long flights is watching a shed load of movies. Thankfully the Cathay Pacific selection was remarkably good and I’d recommend everything that I actually managed to finish. Have included the trailers for them all plus a short intro for them below.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection
Chinese fantasy movie set around a fox demon’s quest to become human and a love story between a disfigured princess and her guard. I also started to watch Snow White & The Huntsman afterwards which seems to carry a lot of similarities: fairy tale timelessness, magic, concepts of beauty, jealousy, sacrifice, war, love, distrust of men and an unhealthy penchant for ripping out human hearts (the fox demon to stay alive and eventually to become mortal – though this has to be a heart given willingly – and Snow White’s evil step mother to become immortal).
Difficult to tell you anything about this Leos Carax film as I had no idea what was going on at all, but if you’re fine with a fairly abstract narrative then it’s a great film. Denis Lavant is fantastic as he jumps into surreal roles of varying degrees, getting chauffeur driven to each ‘assignment’ in a limo. Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue play just two of the people he meets along the way.
A fun Chinese Martial Arts film with elements of classic Action Adventures such as Romancing The Stone or Indiana Jones. Mini Yang (who also plays a bird demon in The Resurrection) steals an entry pass to a big Kung Fu Tournament at a Temple, mostly to try and find a powerful ancient sword (although she’s pretty damn good at Kung Fu too). Also trying to find the sword (along with various other treasures) is the tournament’s sponsor, who’s terminally ill daughter is kicking much ass in the tournament too and falling for the Temple’s entrant, a fairly useless but lovable monk who has to learn Kung Fu in his sleep in order to enter. Yes it sounds a little silly and there’s a few holes in the plot but if you can let that slide then there’s some great fight scenes and it’s all fairly exciting and heart warming stuff.
Paan Singh Tomar
A Hindi film based on the true life story of the Indian soldier, athlete, farmer and eventually dacoit (outlaw, or rebel as he prefers to be called in the film).
After returning from the army a national steeplechase champion (the real Paan Singh was 7 time champion during the 60s and 70s) he enters into a land dispute with his powerful and nasty cousin which eventually leads to both his son and mum getting beaten and a lack of respect for the law which lets him down. He takes up kidnapping with the rest of his family and enters into a long running battle with the law. The film is dedicated to all the Indian Medal Winners who have been let down by the system and society when they return home.
Searching For Sugar Man
Inspiring documentary about Rodriguez, a talented singer songwriter from Detroit who sold very few albums in the US but became something of a rebel icon and one of the biggest pop stars of the 70s in South Africa after a bootleg copy of his album found it’s way around Cape Town. Unfortunately due to the heavy boycotts on South Africa during Apartheid, he never found out about his massive success before rumours reached there that he had committed suicide live on stage. With conflicting stories on whether he shot himself, burned himself alive or took a drug overdose, a group of fans decide to find out exactly what happened to him.
As the Rodriguez documentary showed, Detroit was always quite a tough place but it’s gone from being the fastest growing city of the 30s to the fastest shrinking city of recent times with a 50% loss of manufacturers in 10 years, with that comes an unemployment rate of 50% and a 50% loss of population. The other shocking 50% figure is the pay cut agreed for all new hires after the Government bail out at General Motors and Chrysler but amongst all the problems (which many in the film feel should serve as a warning and wake up call to the rest of the US) there are definitely strong pockets of positivity, creativity and even profit so the over all feeling of this documentary is certainly not one of hopelessness.
End Of The Road: How Money Became Worthless
The next natural step on the documentary trail was this expose on the 2008 financial crises and the monetary system in general. Some of the information I seem to remember from the Zeitgeist movies but this seemed to digest easier. It starts with Nixon stating that the US will no longer exchange dollars for Gold, thus ending the Bretton Woods System, and then follows what is essentially a massive Ponzi scheme, reflecting on where and how it might end.
Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon
Documentary on seminal Rock + Pop journalist Lillian Roxon who was a regular at Max’s Kansas City during the 60s and early 70s alongside the likes of Andy Warhol, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. It was such an interesting time for music in New York that it’s good to see it through the life of a music journalist at that time and Lillian was an interesting and formidable character in her own right.
The Rum Diary
Been meaning to watch this for a while but had a number of less than impressed reports back. Not sure if people were unfairly comparing it to Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas but I enjoyed it. Of course as with most things it doesn’t match up to the book but then a lot of the charm of Hunter S Thompson‘s work is the writing itself. Still I’d definitely say give it a chance.