Monday, May 15, 2006
Big screen, small screen, blue screen, tall screen
Movie of the week:
Three Times directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, who is apparently a critical darling despite his films' lack of distribution. It was a spur of the moment pick and I'm glad I saw it, even though two-thirds of its three-part storytelling left me a little cold. The film stars the very-easy-on-the-eyes pairing of the remarkable Shu Qi and the as-stoic-as-he-needs-to-be Chang Chen in three different tales of romantic yearning set in China in different time periods: 1911, 1966 and 2005.
The 1966 segment about a couple who meets in a billiards room was my favorite by far with its sweet story, sparse dialogue, long sweet moments of nothingness, romantic color palette and evocative music. Very Wong Kar-wai. The second segment about a concubine longing for romantic rescue was treated as a silent film and was more lovely to look at than substantial, although once again music was used masterfully to heighten moments. The third segment about lonely souls as divided by technology as they are connected by it was lackluster, but interesting visuals like the "fluorescent light in the hallway" scene made it occasionally diverting. I'm definitely intrigued enough to seek out his other films.
As I waited to buy my ticket, a couple at the ticket window was talking to the box office attendant. The male half of the duo asked if the movie they were about to see was good.
"It's supposed to be good," said the attendant.
As the couple turned away from the window, the guy mumbled, "They're all supposed to be good" in a very wry, Paul Reiser way.
The rest of the story? It was Paul Reiser. Booya, booooooy!
TV show of the week:
Can't Get a Date on VH-1. It's hard to believe another reality-based, dating-related show could fit into the already fractured cable TV world, but there it is and this one's a keeper.
The show starts out with a person who has been unlucky in love and does a quick rundown on what they might be doing wrong, from the way the dress to their pathetic pick-up lines. I've only seen two episodes, but both subjects were so charming in an everyday way that they won me over easily.
A smart-ass, but caring host who participates in the form of a voiceover serves as the connection between the audience and the subject as the subject talks to the camera. It's a really cool device that feels intimate somehow.
In the most recent episode, a 31-year-old New Yorker named Will talks about his lack of confidence with women. He partly blames his dating troubles on his childhood spent in 15 different foster homes. In one of the homes, the foster mother secretly put her foster kids to work licking envelopes for a direct mail business. Will said he couldn't taste salt for a year afterward. After all that, the guy deserves a date for Pete's sake (and my TV viewership affection).
The rest of the show is basically a retread of the Queer Eye formula, making over the subject's home, clothing, hair and attitude with various trips to salons, martial arts sessions, counseling sessions and practice dates. So far, I've only seen happy endings. I mean, if you could've seen Will cry when they showed him the "before" pictures of his tornado-messy apartment after his transformation, you would've been won over, too. So if you ever flip by during your remote control ride, give it a try.