Friday, December 22, 2006

Curse of the Golden Flower (a wee Curmudgeon Post)

Of course I'm looking forward to this movie (be sure to enter site and watch the 'making of' featurettes). It's a blockbuster that will open soon in mainstream America moviehouses.
What's not to get excited about?

Set in The Forbidden City, it looks absolutely spectacular. It's based on an old Chinese story. It stars Gong Li and Asian-Man-of-the-Hour Chow Young Fat. It's shades of (Chinese) Crouching Tiger.. Hero...Flying Daggers and - at the risk of contributing to the typical lumping of Chinese and Japanese into the same All-Asians-are-Alike Pot...this movie even promises something of the silken dreamy imagery we saw in Memoirs...

I first viewed the movie trailer for 'Curse of the Golden Flower' yesterday. HD and I went to see Daniel (WhatABody) Craig as the 'new James Bond' (a silly notion, seeing that there is really only one James Bond. We just allow the other guys to use the 007 moniker and identity for a movie moment or two...).

So - uh - where were we? That Daniel Craig Guy Who Hints of Steve McQueen got me ...well...a bit distracted...

Excuse the digression. Back to 'Curse of the Golden Flower'..
Regarding the trailer, my In-Theater-Exclamation (replete with HubbyDear rolling his eyes and shushing me) was 'OhGod. Another Chinese movie with swishing swords and flying leaps?!' 'So when do we get to see Chinese/Asians as everyday people doing everyday things and not necessarily as SuperLeaperKungFuConcubine types?!?'

Soon after, I settled down.
Follow-up reaction: Really and truly, I'm usually ever-so-happy to see Chinese cinema cross over to Big Screen America - the exposure can be a positive one. Even if I do cringe when it means playing the MartialArtsSuperInscrutableAsianDemeanorDemureFlawless
AsianBeautyWithExquisitelyPaintedRedLips race card once again.


I really hoped the popularity of 'The Joy Luck Club' would kick-start an understanding that Asian-Americans can be, more or less - your 'everyday Joes/Josettes'. People who wake up in the morning and get through their day without resorting to using their jewel-encrusted swords to slice and dice anyone who offends. Without taking a step and having it become a leap into the tops of a bamboo thicket or bouncing light-as-a-feather over rooftops.

Amy Tan is second gen American, yet she was able to successfully offer up something of contemporary life involving ABCs which, when swooped up by Hollywood, became a movie that proved a refreshing change from the Dragon Ladies or KungFu Masters flicks the Hollywood Machine typically churns out.

Are Asians only palatable to the Western moviegoer if packaged in the all-too-familiar stereotypes? Sure, we've come away from the likes of Fu Manchu and the inscrutable Charlie Chan (#1 Son rocked, though, didn't he?). Bespectacled Asian nerds are hopefully a thing of the past. We suffered through completely goofy nerds then admired the fight and might of Bruce Lee. Then we went on to laughing along with (not at) funny groovy wannabe hep fightn' guy Jackie Chan (Hey! Chinese guys can be funny without wearing horn-rimmed specs and acting nerdy!).

The ladies have run the gamut from Anna May Wong's in-the-shadows exotica to Suzie Wong's heart-of-gold prostitute exotica to Lucy Liu's exotica Angel to Ziyi Zhang doing high kicks as an exotica Asian Gang Queen. Not much of a gamut there, though, come to think of it.
Now we have the classic Asian beauties who float around in long silken robes but can also double as defenders of Good and Right using their kick-ass KungFu skills. All well and good.

We're still talking Mainstream here. Ya gotta work, ya gotta bring home the paycheck. Whatever roles are available, right?
[Is anyone else sick of seeing Asians on TV/ in movies wearing white lab coats and/or scrubs?]
You've got to know that Asian actors are chomping at the bit to portray more complex characters in diverse roles. Moreover, they are talented enough to deliver.

Recognition of Asian actors and moviemakers is a good thing. A wonderful thing. But subject matter within the 'Asian genre' as far as popular movies could benefit greatly from a widening of scope. I mean W-I-D-E. It's doable.
Asians are all that and more. So writers, moviemakers and promoters - tap into it awreddy!

(A special Huzzah here for Sandra Oh, who is trying to break through the glass ceiling with whatever opportunities are available...)

A few Asian artsy films earn art house media attention, but that's not hardly enough to educate the movie-going masses and change a few perspectives.
There's no denying the plethora of quality Asian film in the foreign archives, with more in the making every day. Keep in mind that I'm focused on the messages that continue to go out on the Mainstream Waves. Mainstream is where myths perpetuate or have the potential to be dispelled.
Isn't it high time to add a few up-to-snuff Asian reality feathers in our proverbial blockbuster movie cap before calling it a day?

I'm going to see 'Curse'.
I will love it. I will be sure to buy the movie when it's released on DVD. Yet I will always want for more.

Damn it.

1 comment:

jrides el nino said...

The guy on Law and Order, Special Victims Units (reruns) the a great actor and pretty darn cute.
Wouldn't it be fun if actors were chosen by their skill rather than their looks?

At the Christmas Pageant, the shepherds and angels came in every shape, color, size...