Unlike my prior review – Broken Blossoms – The Bitter Tea of General Yen shows actual passion between an Asian man and a white woman. It’s still pretty tame compared to today’s standards, but next to the very chaste relationship in Broken Blossoms it’s quite something. In fact, it was negative reaction to the interracial relationship that was blamed for the failure of this movie. While it was conservative zealousness that caused people to damn the film then, it’s liberal zealousness that sometimes causes people to damn it now. Just like with Broken Blossoms the male lead in this film is played by a white man. There is also a nightmare/sex dream where a heavy caricature of an Asian man is first seen before becoming normal (more on that in a bit).
Monday, April 21, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
Director D.W. Griffith is nothing if not schizophrenic. Just four years after making the epic The Birth of a Nation (about how the Ku Klux Klan supposedly saved
uppity black people) he comes back with the small character study Broken
Blossoms which features a very sympathetic portrayal of an Asian man and his
relationship with a white girl. Even
more surprising is that this film was made right in the middle of the “Yellow
Peril” scare in the U.S. The studio wanted nothing to do with this movie. Griffith
bought the rights to it from them and Broken Blossoms became the very first film
ever released by United Artists, the company Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary
Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks founded to give artists a way to get their
movies released without having to bow to the powers at the big studios. Despite what the studio thought would happen Broken
Blossoms became a huge hit.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Young Boy with Coffee – “Excuse me, I happened to be passing, and I thought you might like some coffee.”
Little Girl – “Oh, that's very nice of you, thank you.”
Young Boy with Coffee – “Cream?”
Little Girl – “No, thank you, I take it black, like my men.”
– Airplane! (1980)
If there’s one subject in most of movie history that pretty much guaranteed controversy it was having an interracial relationship in it, especially if it was black/white. This category won’t be restricted just to those two races, though. There will be various combinations among the films.
And by “relationships” I don’t mean buddy movies such as Lethal Weapon, Shanghai Noon, or the like. No, I mean relationships where two people are romantically or sexually connected to each other (at least as far as it was allowed to go for the time period the film was made.)
Because there have been so many films like this in recent years, I am going to limit this category to those movies where the relationship is a sizable or key component to the film. This means I will be excluding movies like The Royal Tenenbaums where it is an ensemble and there just happens to be an interracial couple among the characters.
In the interest of showing how things have changed over the years I will be posting reviews of my recommended films in chronological order – oldest to newest. I've placed the years there to give you an idea of what the range will be. As I review the films I will come back and add the links for them here.
O (2001) - (posted July 28, 2012)
O (2001) - (posted July 28, 2012)
On to the reviews…
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Matthew McConaughey had a celebrated year in 2013 with a memorable cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street and an Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club. For my money, though, his best film of 2013 was Mud. (Wolf was better, but it wasn’t his movie.) In fact, Mud is one of my Top 10 films of 2013. It’s from writer/director Jeff Nichols, who had previously done 2011’s Take Shelter, which garnered a number of good reviews. I consider Mud to be a good step up from Take Shelter and I look forward to what Nichols may do in the future.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
The third season of Game of Thrones is based on the first two thirds of the novel A Storm of Swords – the third book in the ongoing series titled A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Please note that this review of the third TV season and book contains spoilers for the first two TV seasons and books. If you have never seen this show and would like a spoiler-free overview of what it is about and why you might want to watch it, please read my review of the first season and book here. If you've seen that, my review of the second season and book can be found here.
Monday, March 31, 2014
I saw 17 new movies in the month of March, I had 1 re-watch, and I rewatched a TV season. I finished off the last of the movies that appeared for the first time on the 2013 year end IMDB Top 250 list, so I am once again complete on the 16 year consolidated list.
I am semi-actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die lists, and They Shoot Pictures Don’t They. Some of these overlap, but I am showing films under only one list’s count in the details below.
All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them. They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.
Here are the 17 new movies, 1 old one, and the TV season I saw in March. Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.
IMDB (3): Before Midnight (2013), Rush (2013), Prisoners (2013)
Oscar Nominees (0):
101 Genre (0):
TSPDT (2): Claire’s Knee (1970), They Live By Night (1948)
Other Movies (12): The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Stoker (2013), Reaching for the Moon (2013), The Lego Movie (2014), Turbo (2013), 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), Austenland (2013), In a World… (2013), Blue Jasmine (2013), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), The Spectacular Now (2013), The Great Beauty (2013)
Re-watches (1): Thor 2: The Dark World (2013), TV – Game of Thrones Season 3
I saw so few films this month that I will just write a bit about each.
Before Midnight (2013) – Worthy third film in what has now become a series. What happens when you’ve ended up with your destined love? Real life intrudes. 3.5 stars
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – Better than the first film in one important area: you can actually see what is happening onscreen. There’s very little shakycam on display. Movie watchers rejoice! 4 stars
Rush (2013) – Better than I expected. Does a good job of recreating the 1970s Formula 1 racing circuit. 3.5 stars
Stoker (2013) – Highly recommended. You can read my four star review by clicking on the movie name.
Reaching for the Moon (2013) – Period lesbian tragic romance. Some great architecture (one is an architect), but I don’t have much else good to say about it. 2 stars
Claire’s Knee (1970) – Really slow, talky movie where unfortunately the subjects being discussed were all so banal that they were completely uninteresting. I’m probably being generous with this rating. 2 stars
The Lego Movie (2014) – A fun movie, although never having played with Legos I’m sure I missed some of the jokes. 3.5 stars
Turbo (2013) – Nowhere near as horrible as I heard it was. My low expectations helped me like this. 3 stars
20 Feet from Stardom (2013) – Not a brilliant documentary for an Oscar winner. It does a great job revisiting a lot of old music from a different perspective, but unfortunately takes a wrong turn into racial politics and loses its way. 3.5 stars
Austenland (2013) – Even Jane Austen fans will probably be let down by this. 2 stars
In a World… (2013) – I really wanted to like this more than I did. It had a great trailer, which unfortunately showed most of the best parts of the movie. 3 stars
Blue Jasmine (2013) – A thoroughly dislikable main character sinks the movie. All I wanted was for the film to end so I didn’t have to put up with her anymore. 2 stars
Prisoners (2013) – I was expecting a gripping thriller and instead the movie reveals what is going on about 45 minutes into its 2.5 hour runtime (if you’re paying attention). It then felt like it took forever to get to where I already knew it was going to go. 2 stars
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – a lesser Coen Brothers movie. They tried to recapture the magic of O Brother Where Art Thou – this time with folk music instead of bluegrass – but it’s just missing that special something that would make it memorable. 2.5 stars
The Spectacular Now (2013) – interesting teen romance film in that it is mostly realistic. Shailene Woodley does another good job. 3 stars
The Great Beauty (2013) – a lot of pretty images in search of a plot. Style triumphs over substance (The Hunt) at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film. 2 stars
They Live By Night (1948) – Good film that everyone seems to place into the Noir genre, but which has little to do with it other than a crime gets committed. The movie is actually about a young, doomed romance. It has some great camera shots in it. 3 stars
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Stoker was one of my most pleasant surprises when I was working my way through a bunch of 2013 films I had heard good things about. It’s the most recent movie I saw that made my Top 10 for the year. It features a mess with your head plotline, a couple of mysteries, and some truly outstanding visuals. Best of all for me, though, was that part way through the film I realized I had no idea whatsoever what direction the film was going to take. Would it stay a drama? Would it turn into a thriller? Would it go places that it seemed to be hinting? Would an element of the supernatural creep in? Is what we are seeing 100% real, or is some of it only in the head of a character? It did end in a way that I thought it might, but that was only one possibility out of several that came to my mind while I was watching it.