Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Queen + The Banquet

World cinema from opposite ends of the planet.

The Queen (Britain, 2006)

The DVD was in my player for months, but I never quite came around seeing it. I finally told myself to watch it instead of spending on cinema tickets.

The film, which chronicles the week following Princess Diana's death, has excellent ensemble acting and a wonderfully scripted dialogue. The symbolic stag in the somber but lovely Scottish highlands and the QE II's Range Rover driving show facets of her personality that I am not familiar with. Prince Philip is vilified here, with nothing to redeem his old-fashioned thinking; Tony Blair is the voice of reason, and his exchanges with his wife make their marriage appear more interesting than I ever imagined.

The Banquet (Ye Yan, China, 2006)
Loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, this film takes its time savoring one lovely scene after another. But to what end? Not so much to tell the story but to revel in beautiful production design, choreography and cinematography--so much theatricality in red, black and white. On the down side, it feels longer than it actually is.

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