It’s a sign of how much this neighborhood has changed that of the 10 or so options at my local movie theater, there’s always one Chinese-language release. Given that the other films are generally cartoons or action movie sequels (Red 2? I never even heard of Red 1), I always check to see what Chinese flick is playing.
So when I saw that Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster was here for the weekend, I immediately bought a ticket. This is the closest my local theater has ever come to showing an arthouse movie. Ziyi Zhang and Tony Leung are such a pleasure to ogle. As with other Wong Kar Wai films, the costumes are their own characters, and much attention is paid to everyone’s shoes. One martial arts specialist wears embroidered, bound foot platform shoes which she does improbable roundhouse kicks in. Everyone slides around in cloth shoes and white socks, kicking up snow and rain.
When you think of Chungking Express, you think of Brigitte Lin in the trench coat, blond wig, and sunglasses.
In the Mood for Love is all about Maggie Cheung’s lithe body in a bodycon cheongsam.
[SPOILER: Full scene below. Don't click if you don't want to see it.]
In The Grandmaster, it’s Ziyi Zhang in a winter maxi coat with a plush, jet black, mink collar and cuffs that breathe of their own accord; a single snowflake ornament is nestled in the smooth lacquer of her hair, echoing the paleness of her face against all that rustling black.
My favorite quote (paraphrasing from memory here): “Life would be boring without regrets.”
I enjoyed the movie; sure, the story was choppy and a little toothless, but it’s full of gorgeous people and fight scenes and scenery that stick with me. It’s worth it just for the scenes of the women at the brothel with pencil-thin eyebrows, rosy cheeks, and pin curls, looking like those vintage Chinese ads come to life.
My fellow Puente Hills Mall patrons, however, were NOT into it. I think they were expecting something more Jet Li. A bunch of people even walked out. Which makes me feel like, ugh, this is why I can’t live in the burbs.