December 13, 2004

Creature Comfort

It was a quiet week this week. Wednesday evening Aimee was feeling a little under the weather and I didn't much feel like venturing out anyway, so I stayed in and watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on DVD with my own crouching tiger Richter. Having not seen it since it first came out, I was struck by how much more I enjoyed it now that I have just a few more years on me. Ang Lee never lets a single moment of film go to waste in the telling of his tale, and the restrained romance between Michelle Yeoh's Shu Lien and Chow Yun-Fat's Li Mu Bai got me right in the chest. The veteran actors were a nice balance to the youth and impetuousness of Zhang Ziyi's Jen, whose own hot affair with a bandit chief divides her life in two. In the past few years I have watched Yeoh beat ass in Wing Chun and marvelled at the bamboo fight scene in Touch of Zen that Lee pays tribute to in Crouching Tiger, and I appreciate how masterfully the director synthesized his many influences. Put aside Yuen Woo-ping's fantastic fight choreography and the story has no trouble standing on its own, that of two women and the very difficult decisions they make about their lives.

Thursday evening was the second DVD night in a row. This time it was Memento, another film I had seen years ago in its initial run but not since. It didn't twist my head quite as hard this time thanks to a few vague details I remembered about the plot, but I still had to sit and think a bit after it was over to fill in the holes. Memento is a fascinating study in episodic storytelling, because when the story starts at the "end" the tension has to come from somewhere other than wondering about the ultimate fate of the protagonist. We know he survives, but is his system for compensating for his lack of short-term memory as foolhardy as he would have us believe? Of course not. Is he purposefully choosing his own version of the truth? Probably. Guy Pearce gives a typically strong performance as the memory-loss victim in question, and Carrie-Anne Moss is the woman who may or may not be leading him down the garden path. I hope Moss does more independent film now that the great sucking sound that was The Matrix has finally released her from its grip.

Ever in search of holiday presents that don't contribute to our culture of consumerism, I stopped by Creativity Explored on Saturday afternoon to browse the remnants of their 2004 art sale. The tables in the studio were still stacked with paintings and drawings and ceramics, and there was plenty of art left on the walls as well. Creativity Explored is a gallery and studio space for developmentally disabled artists, where the art-making is not seen merely as therapy but as a genuine means of self-expression, not to mention income. The more I wandered around the more pieces I found in my hands, and I was particularly drawn to the artists' representations of fantastical creatures: dragons and aliens and unidentifiable furry beasts. I finally settled on one of Peter Cordova's colorful paintings of water animals, and I presented it to Sophie this weekend as a Hanukkah present...and threw in a Pez dispenser to sweeten the deal. She approved.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Creativity Explored

Posted by nightfall at December 13, 2004 09:41 PM