[VIDEO REVIEWS] This Week's Videos Are Surreal, Loopy
New releases reviewed this week are "Suzhou River" and "Man on the Moon."
SUZHOU RIVER (2000)
Directed by Ye Lou. Starring Xun Zhou, Hongsheng Jia, Zhingkai Hua, An Nai and Anilian Yao.
This melancholic and twisted love story opens and closes on the Suzhou River, which the director has called "the blood of the city."
The filthy river, which runs throughout Shanghai, becomes a metaphor for lost dreams and love in this homage to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo."
The narrator is an off-camera videographer who is pining for his lost girlfriend, a young woman who used to perform as a mermaid in a nightclub.
The focus of the story then shifts to a motorcycle courier, Mardar (Hongsheng), who is also pining, but for a dead love. He had fallen in love with his charge when he was hired to look after a gangster's daughter, Moudan (Xun). When Mardar was forced to kidnap Moudan for ransom, she ran away from him and dived off a bridge into the Suzhou River, clutching a mermaid doll; her body was never recovered.
After Mardar serves three years in jail, he keeps searching for Moudan. One day, while visiting a bar, he discovers a look alike － Meimei (also played by Xun), who performs as a mermaid in an aquarium.
Mardar becomes obsessed with Meimei, convinced they are the same woman.
MAN ON THE MOON (1999)
Directed by Milos Forman. Starring Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love, Paul Giamatti and Vincent Schiavelli.
The late comic Andrew Kaufman alienated many people, while simultaneously securing a large core of fans who adored his crazy characterizations.
Kaufman was legendary for his schizophrenic brand of comedy that often had him in character, yet pretending to be another character. He was Elvis Presley, he was the wrestler Jerry Lawler, he was a crass lounge singer named Tony Clifton, he was, above all, eccentric and perhaps a genius lunatic.
"Man on the Moon" is a biography of Kaufman (Carrey). The film begins with a brief childhood scene, then flashes forward to chronicle Kaufman's rise to fame. George Shapiro (DeVito) discovers Kaufman and gets him on "Saturday Night Live," a comedy television show. Kaufman is then cast on the sitcom "Taxi" for a six-year run. Kaufman hated sitcoms.
The movie's "Taxi" scenes include cameos of "Taxi" co-stars as themselves.
DeVito, who was also a star of "Taxi," is jarringly absent in the sitcom's montages. Carrey, the king of mainstream humor, melts into his role as Kaufman.
In the end, "Man on the Moon" never penetrates Kaufman's mind and he remains an enigma. The movie was best summed up by Tom New of CBC TV, who said, "It is sad, it's flawed and it is funny, sort of like Kaufman himself."
by Joe Yong-hee