Saturday, October 22, 2011

Three Times

So part of my New Year's resolutions was to watch two movies a month. Well good luck with that. When it gets down to the wire, and it's a choice between writing, reading, or catching a movie, writing wins hands down. Reading is a close second. And movies? Well let's just say that I haven't seen a lot of movies this year.

But it's good to watch one once in a while, if only to give your brain a couple of hours to stop whirring and just zone off.

Notable movies that I've watched this year include:
  • Babae sa Septic Tank
  • Zombadings
  • Buenas Noches, EspaƱa
  • (which was so unbearable that I walked out after thirty minutes, a first for me. I never thought that I could actually walk out on a film.)
  • Paprika
  • (Just last night. It's amazing.)

And now, Three Times, by acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. To be honest, I never understood why there was such a fuss about him. I watched Flight of the Red Balloon in college and found it boring. But Three Times is an interesting triptych.

Three Times tells the story of two lovers in three eras: 1911, 1966, and 2005. The lovers, which are different characters in each era, are played by the ravishing Shu Qi* (loved her in So Close) and Chan Cheng (best known to Westerners as Zhang Zhiyi's lover in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but also to Wong Kar Wai fans for his roles in Happy Together and 2046). It is also an incisive mirror into each era: the couple in 1911 is (spoiler) an intrepid journalist and a courtesan. In 1966, they are a pool hall girl and a soldier. In 2005, they are disaffected youth.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Lover's Discourse

A Lover's Discourse: FragmentsA Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a powerful book.

Of all the philosophical graffiti written on the backs of bathroom doors when I was in college, my favorite was a simple survey: Are you in love or in love with the idea of love? Most people chose the latter.

Barthes tackles the depth and breadth of the idea of love, in all its agony and ecstasy. There are meditations on waiting, on jealousy, on how love at first sight is like rape. Barthes tackles the ideas of Werther, Nietzsche, Freud, and sprinkles the etymology of various Greek, French and Italian words for good measure.

Just read this:

This is how it happens sometimes, misery or joy engulfs me, without any particular tumult ensuing: nor any pathos: I am dissolved, not dismembered, I fall, I flow, I melt. Such thoughts grazed, touched, tested (the way you test the water with your foot) can recur.
Nothing solemn about them.
This is exactly what gentleness is.

I was bowled over by this book. It is something to read again and again, and to ponder.

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