Saturday, 23 August 2014

Love in the time of discord

Coming Home

THE setting of Zhang Yimou’s latest historical offering – a Communist China afflicted by the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s – is an ample canvas for the Chinese auteur to explore one of the republic’s most socially and economically tumultuous eras. Alas, the political depictions are ever gauzy, rendered almost unnecessary even, in the presence of the unassuming romanticism that tinges this period piece.

But that doesn’t take away the fact that Coming Home is still an achingly beautiful love story. Contemporary viewers might dismiss it as languid mush though – an observation that is not without its merits because, make no mistake, the pace is painstakingly dilatory.

Despite its relatively modest 111-minute running time, this dramatic offering can be a sluggish affair that’s made even more lethargic by an arduous display of melancholic sentiments (think doleful instrumental music and drab weather in even drabber settings).

The ever alluring Gong Li plays middle school teacher Feng Wanyu, who is married to Lu Yanshi (helmed by a very charismatic Chen Daoming), a college professor who’s been incarcerated for political crimes and sent to labour camp. The couple’s young daughter Dan Dan (newcomer Zhang Huiwen) is a dancer who is willing to turn her father in for a lead role in a ballet propaganda showcase.

When Yanshi is finally released, he returns home to find an amnesiac wife who can’t even recognise him. And so begins the man’s bittersweet homecoming journey. Unable to remember her own husband, Wanyu patiently waits for Yanshi’s return as the latter resorts to various means to restore her memory.

The plot does bring to mind a more dramatised 50 First Dates, a comparison that will surely reduce this movie to mere fluff. To an extent, the storyline is indeed skeletal. But if you watch closely enough, the many metaphors interspersed make this tear-jerking epic an unexpected and ultimately redeeming social commentary about love and life in a time of political discord. Chester Chin 


Suriya Sivakumar (right) and Samantha Ruth Prabhu play love struck couple in the movie Anjaan.

IT is hard to focus on a movie when you have two South Indian hearthrobs, Suriya and Vidyut Jamwal, dominating the silver screen but believe me, Anjaan is worth watching.

The storyline revolves around an inspiring tale of friendship between two gangsters and their struggle to reach the top amid problems with rival gangs and the police.

Although Anjaan may seem like a typical Tamil movie, director Lingusamy adds to the excitement with strategic inclusion of subplots; it also helps that the gangsters are dressed like models and get around in luxury cars.

Lead actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu adds a touch of glamour to the otherwise male-dominated movie while comedian Soori provides the laughs in between to keep you entertained.

Yuvan Shankar Raja’s songs are commendable as usual, but the movie is a little long drawn out with five tracks. On the plus side, we get to hear Surya trying his hand at playback singing for the first time on the song Ek Do Theen.

So if you’re looking for a movie with an interesting plot, good-looking people and great music, watch this. Priya Menon 

The Expendables 3

This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone, left, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a scene from

THIS is a movie that really does live up to its name. I mean, look at how expendable some elements of the film are.

Story? Expendable. Logic? Expendable. Character development? Expendable. Decent dialogue? Expendable. An actual reason to bring together all those old action stars so they can blow stuff up? Expendable.

About the only thing that’s NOT expendable are the Expendables themselves. They might as well be called the Indestructibles.

Still, it’s nice to kick back and watch an action movie that thinks CGI is expendable, and makes do with some good old-fashioned stunt work and action instead. It’s also great that I didn’t have to expend too much brain power to enjoy it. Now THAT’s an experience that’s never expendable. – Michael Cheang

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