champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends…

it all began with lust, caution. i watched that movie towards the end of 2007, and was quite simply floored by both the story it recounted and the convincing acting of the performers. i was captivated by the anxiety of the story, the sense of unrelenting tension that persisted through each scene. despite the fact that i generally consider love/sex scenes to be embarrassing, awkward, and totally unnecessary, those scenes in the movie were absolutely essential and so revealing, so telling, of the nature of their attachment to each other: an unsustainable yet overpowering force that each exerted over and demanded of the other. in the film, tony leung plays the "bad" character, and yet he brings to the role such complexity and nuances that it is difficult to watch and not sympathize with his character. his acting is brilliant, utterly convincing, multi-layered and introspective. lust, caution was one of those movies that lingered in my mind long after the last scene faded away, whose troubling silences - and inescapable ending - remained with me until i laid down and closed my eyes. and even then, tony leung's image persisted, and i couldn't shake off that conflicted feeling for the mood for love

and so, as 2008 unfolded, i found myself increasingly – and somewhat inexplicably – preoccupied with tony leung. i don’t believe that tony leung is a particularly good-looking man, yet there is some intangible quality about him that makes him impossible not to watch when he’s on screen. i began to watch all of his movies – starting with the brilliant infernal affairs (yes, i watched the entire trilogy), on through most of his “serious” films (in the mood for love, hero, 2046, chungking express, happy together), and i even plowed through the horribly cheesy ones, like tokyo raiders (or was it seoul raiders). despite the plethora of movies he’s performed in, not all are readily available at the libraries around my house, and many of the movies are in the tokyo raiders vein, hardly demonstrating the scope and intensity of his acting ability.

so, when i read online about confession of pain, i immediately wanted to watch it. the reviews it received were only so-so, but i didn’t much care. it is directed by the same guys as infernal affairs – andrew lau and alan mak – and as an added bonus, also features another actor i like a lot (this time for more aesthetic reasons), takeshi kaneshiro. i didn’t exactly have high expectations for the movie, but i figured it was worth a shot.

well, ok, so it wasn’t the most brilliant movie i’ve seen him in. the story is kind of lame, the plot really confusing (although that could very well be due to my incomprehension of cantonese and the terribly inadequate subtitles), and the acting could have been better. the characters were underdeveloped, the story had holes that the script hastily patched up in the final 10 minutes, and the dialogue is full of such memorable lines as, “if we can have patience with homicides, we can be patient with our women.” (once again, perhaps a lot was lost in translation. although… maybe not.) infernal affairs was certainly a much better movie. nonetheless, i still enjoyed it. some actors are just pleasurable to watch. but would i recommend it? only if you’re as obsessed with tony leung as i am.

a friend of mine and i had recently been talking about “top 5” or “top 10” lists, and i realized it’s nearly impossible for me to create one. especially on the fly – i’m just no good, and i can’t ever think of anything to say. but here’s an attempt…

shobes’ top 5 tony leung movies

  1. happy together
  2. in the mood for love
  3. chungking express
  4. lust, caution
  5. infernal affairs

happy together is brilliant. i can’t say enough good things about it. it’s just a perfect movie, directed by wong kar wai and featuring his other favorite actor, leslie cheung. and it happens to be set in buenos aires.


as a last note, i just wanted to briefly recap the movies i’ve recently watched. since my sister’s been here, that number has exponentially increased; prior to her arrival, i’d been pretty lazy about watching movies, renting a whole bunch but only watching one (or none at all). of those movies i actually did watch, a few were fantastic, but most were mediocre at best.

i watched a slew of edward norton movies, beginning with the illusionist, followed by the painted veil and a re-watch of 25th hour, which is pretty much a highlight for me in both norton and spike lee’s careers. there’s a soliloquy that norton performs in a bathroom mirror that’s genius. there’s also this mix of an old grandmaster flash song in that movie that is soo good (and impossible to find). neither the illusionist nor the painted veil were very good, but i really enjoy watching edward norton. he has a way of embodying anger, as well as a steadfastness and intensity that is unlike any other actor. the other movie i loved was the savages, with laura linney and phillip seymour hoffman, who play a pair of middle-aged siblings dealing with their elderly father’s dementia and decline. it’s a hilarious yet poignant movie, with both actors in top form. hoffman is such a pleasure to watch, especially when he does comedy – one of my friends hates him because of all the “slimy, sleezy” characters he plays, but that’s only a tribute to his skill as an actor, and how thoroughly he convinces us of his roles.

and for those of you who saw beowolf in the theater: why did no one tell me it was so bad??? i kept waiting for the “good part”, but no good part came. what a waste of two hours of my life.


One thought on “champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends…

  1. hahaha….that’s why you shouldn’t have even attempted to watch beowulf…use your instincts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s