Saturday, October 13, 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS #45 PART 2: "A SEPARATION", "CORIOLANUS", "YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE", "GIRLFRIEND", "ROAD, MOVIE" and MORE! Plus, another sad update on my computer difficulties.

Well, we've been working on my computer all week, and it's officially..., well died. Pretty much, completely, at least in it's current state, it passed away, officially, sometime after 10:00pm, when it wouldn't even bring up Windows anymore. We're working on fixing and/or replacing it, but in the meantime, we'll be mourning it's loss, and possibly scouring pawn shops and rent-to-own centers for some temporary solutions, to my problem. In the meantime, I've finished  this part to the batch of reviews. I'll continue to post Canon of Film blogs, when I can, as with more reviews, and hopefully in the near future, I'll post some new regular blogs, including my long-delayed lists of the Top Ten Films of 2011! Yes, I didn't forget about it, I just haven't been able to get to it until now, for many reasons. (Don't forget to send in your TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME LISTS too!) And leave a few comments if you can, on whatever you like/dislike about my blog, anyway. I mostly just get a bunch of Anonymous SPAM right now, and frankly, I don't like or appreciate it, especially at times like these, when I can only get to my blog every couple days or so.

Well, I hope you're all okay, and hopefully soon, this'll be completely finished, but here's PART 2 of this week's RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS!

A SEPARATION (2011) Director: Asghar Farhadi

5 STARS



You know, every so often, especially when I'm hanging around the Library's DVD sections, will I see somebody pick up a movie, that I liked a lot, talk about it for a second, and then I'd come in, and talk about how great the film is, for about thirty seconds-to-a minute, something around that time, and then, they'd notice that the movie is in a foreign language, and they'd immediately put it down, noting something about, not being able to read subtitles or some other understandable bias, although occasionally, I just run into people who simply won't watch a movie because it's in a foreign language. I don't understand that, and as often-the-case, I find foreign movies far more interesting and adult than Hollywood movies of today. I think "A Separation," this year's Oscar Winner for Foreign Language Film, feels like an old Hollywood film, that could've opened right next to "Casablanca," or "Mildred Pierce," or those other great old Hollywood movies with incredible, realistic adult characters, where there's no good guys, no bad guys, just good people in a bad situation. The separation in the title is Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami). We meet them, arguing in front of a judge, in an early divorce court proceeding. Simin, wants to begin living abroad, but Nader won't leave his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who's suffering from senility and Alzheimer's. Their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) has chosen to live with her father, who's a good student, and wise beyond her years, and very good in school, partly because of her tutor, Miss Ghahrail (Merila Zare'l) who often works with Termeh at home. Nader does what he can with his father, but has to hire some help, Sarieh (Sareh Bayat). She seems to be somewhat competent at a very tough job, which often includes taking her young daughter Somaya (Kimia Hosseini) but one day, Nader's Father gets out of the house, and she has to go after him. She tries to set it up so that her out-of-work husband Hojjat, (Shahab Hoessini) could replace her, without him knowing that she was working there before, (or at all), but he gets taken into jail by creditors, so she shows up for work again. When Nader arrives home afterwards however, her father is tied to the bedpost, fallen to the ground and barely breathing. There's money supposedly missing, and Sarieh and Somaya aren't there. She arrives later, claiming she had to be somewhere, later it's revealed that it's possible it was a doctor's appointment. There's a confrontation as she gets fired, and Nader throws her out, or does he? Later, it gets revealed that she had a miscarriage; she blames Nader. Nader says he didn't know she was pregnant, Miss Ghahrail says he didn't, but she knew. It didn't look like he was overly violent, and he did say the money was missing, but worse, his father had just nearly died, and was left alone. That is all I'm going to reveal, about the plot, and believe me, it gets far more complicated and intricate than that, as the situation slowly unravels, and soon, multiple complaints are filed before the court, all the while, Nader and Simin, still must go through this divorce, which neither really wants, and Termeh has to metriculate the mindfield of both her parents tales, as they fight each other, and for her. This is the kind of movie, I want Hollywood to make more of, and they could actually. This movie is Iranian, and in Farcee, and all the particular are Islam, and live under Islamic law, and believe in God, and as they try to live their modern lives, they still have to consider Allah's and Islam's place in their world, while their feelings and life get in the way, but it could've just as easily taken place in America. The movie made numerous critics Best Films list, and it will make mine. It even earned an Oscar-nomination for it's screenplay, the first time a film written in Persian ever got that acclaim. "A Separation" is a great, great film, about a sad situation that nobody wants to be in, but they have to be in, and make choices that will effects more lives than just their own, and they're all too aware of their actions. This is a masterpiece!

CORIOLANUS (2011) Director: Ralph Fiennes

4 STARS

Now I, like nearly everybody loves Shakespeare, but the man wrote 37 plays, and his best ones like "Hamlet," "Romeo & Juliet," "MacBeth,"..., get most of the acclaim and remakes, as they should. However, for Actor Ralph Fiennes directorial debut, he chose one of the lesser-known works, one that I must admit, is so lesser-known, not only had I never read it, I never even heard of it. I hate to admit that, but I am weak in terms of Shakespeare's roman plays, outside of "Julius Ceaser", so I came into "Coriolanus," a little blind. I didn't care as I was watching it, because all I really cared about was the great Shakespearian language said by some of these great actors of our time, but I'm fairly confused as to the actual story and the particulars of the plot. (Note: Remember to read "Coriolanus", before watching "Coriolanus again, and then, read a cliff notes version. [Hey, I love Shakespeare, but studying it from a book is hard, and not how you should experience it anyway.]) Coriolanus isn't a name, but a title, that's given to Caius Martius (Fiennes), who was a Roman General (In this modern Rome, where we often find out updates on the news/war from the news footage on TV) who's fighting the Volscians. However, the war is causing great distress over Rome. Riots in the streets, a food shortage, desperation and despair. Coriolanus returns home at the bequest of his mother, Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), and soon, he loses his own faith in the war, and after he's thrown out of Rome, he joins forces with his enemy Tullus Afidiaus (Gerard Butler, and boy he can't resist anything that takes place in, even a modern-day Rome, which looks a lot like Bosnia [Film was shot in Belgrade, Serbia]). They come together, and begin an all-out attack of Rome. It's a surprise ambush, but Coriolanus's mother and his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain, boy she can do anything, can't she.) finally talk him into laying down his sword, but it's all just a little too late. The film has as much action as any "Die Hard" movie, but I would watch it just to listen to these great actors talking in such wonderful Shakespearean dialogue.There's also some amazing performances by people like Brian Cox and James Nesbitt, fighting and arguing in whatever bar happens to double as a political war room in a city that's hanging by a thread and tearing apart at the seems by blood and grenade launchers. It's amazing Shakespeare wrote so many war and action stories, and was able to have them all performed on a Renaissance stage. It seems like some of his work, like "Coriolanus," or my personal favorite, Kenneth Branagh's version of "Henry V", seems to be tailor-made for today's Hollywood action films. I have to learn a little more before I really give a complete review of "Coriolanus," but as a movie, I was entertained and enthralled. A lesser Shakespeare, is still a Shakespeare isn't it.

YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE (2011) Director: Philipp Stolzl

3 STARS

You know, there's two kinds of information that I don't know, the kind that I should know, and the kind that I don't. I went in to "Young Goethe in Love" and quickly realized that there was a small piece of information, that I did not know ahead of time, and now realize, that I obviously should've known it beforehand. That piece of information: Who Johann Goethe is. Stupid me. I think "Faust," and typically I think Marlowe. I learn or at least know about most of the major literary figures, at least enough to bullshit my way through party conversations, or at least make educated guesses on "Jeopardy!", if that opportunity were to ever come up, but Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Alexander Fehling), until now, completely eluded me, and the more I read from his Wikipedia page, the more ashamed of myself I feel. This film takes place, before he became the world-renowned poet/author/playwright/politician... (Man, he's got a lot of slashes in his profession) and he was just a smart-alec Law School slacker dropout, who's once-again, disappointed his rich family, as his poems and plays continually recieve rejecttion letters from everybody publishing house in Germany. (There weren't exactly that many publishing houses in Germany at that time by the way.) It is around then that he suddenly meets Lotte Buff (Miriam Stein) a beautiful country girl, who watches over her six or seven siblings. They keep missing each other, and waiting for each other's letters, (And btw, this is the first period piece I've seen where two people are at a battle of wills to not write letters to each other.) until finally, they end up trying to surprise each other, by going to the other's homes, at the same time. This real-life love story between Johann and Lotte, we find out, was the inspiration for Goethe's novella, "The Sorrows of Young Werther", in which the main character commits suicide after finding out that his lover had been promised as a wife to someone else, the same thing happens here, minus the suicide. Making it worse, Lotte is engaged to Kestner (Mortiz Bleibtreu), the local prosecutor who Goethe, at the working of his father, had been apprenticing under. The moment all the particulars are in the same room is done in a rather cool, sly way, in which it's clear to everybody, the entire situation, without much words being said. These aren't those characters of other period pieces who are always scheming to get ahead. He goes through a drastic depression which the novella comes out of, which made him famous. (In Germany, Goethe is considered only 2nd to Shakespeare as the greatest writer of all-time) "Young Goethe shows him, before the fame, and as a cocky-young kid, who through love lost and tragedy, morphs into the great writer he became. He created some of the great story-arcs of Western literature, and if that means he loses his first love, maybe that's a good trade. I wish I knew who he was going into the movie, I might have even enjoyed it a little more, but if this movie makes me aware of more knowledgeable about Goethe, than, it's probably a good thing too. (Note to Self: Remember to revisit this film, after a few reading a few of his books.) [Note to self 2: Finish "Fifty Shades of Gray" first though, you have to return that to the library soon.]

GIRLFRIEND (2011) Director: Justin Lerner

2 STARS

"Girlfriend" presents an interesting conundrum as to whether or not it's possible to make a sympathetic and realistic film about someone who suffers from Down's Syndrome, while not simply exploiting the disease. Evan (Evan Sneider) has Down Syndrome. He has a job working at a local diner, and lives with his mother, Celeste (Amanda Plummer), who also works at the diner and looks like she's spent her life caring for a son with Down's Syndrome for most of her adult life. One day, Celeste doesn't wake up. Evan is an adult, but knows he needs someone around to help take care of him, but there isn't anybody. One relative gives him some money to live off of until they can reorganize their life a bit to accomodate him, but that can take awhile. These early scenes intrigued me at first; I even like the idea of Candy (Shannon Woodward) a single Mom in financial trouble who lives next door and Evan has had a crush on from afar. Candy's still living out her high school mistakes, which show up in the form of Russ (Jackson Rathbone), her ex-husband, who suspects her child isn't his, and is continuously late on his payment for the house, which he is supposed to pay for. Once Evan starts finding a way into Candy's world, by offering to help her financially, in comes Russ, who also knew Evan from high school, and he quickly goes to his old tricks of pretending to be his pal, while trying to, not only sabotage what little potential relationship there is between Evan and Candy, but also to try to get some information that exploits his own paranoia about his kid, which Candy refuses him to be around, for good reason. This is where the movie loses it for me. It takes what's essentially a poetic fable about these contradicting characters, and then insists on making it a tale about a clueless kid, with a disability, who inadvertantly causes disaster, because his disability makes him unable to read people better, or too trusting of a person. I'm not gonna claim that this story isn't unrealistic, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a tale based on a true story, that doesn't inherently make it good. It does feel like they're exploiting a kid because he has Down's Syndrome. I'm sure this isn't intentional, but just as an experiment, why couldn't Evan and Jackson have switched roles? (Evan Sneider's only other credit is from a short film, also directed by writer/director Justin Lerner, and while he's good in the role, I'm pretty sure he does suffer from Down's Syndrome, but I could be wrong.) Make him the father who's trying to use his disability to get information about Candy, while Jackson is the simpleton who loses his mother and wants to get with his old high school crushed who never gave him more than a simple hello. Well, maybe I don't want to make him a bad guy, but there were clearly better and less cliched and exploitative ways to go about telling this story. Or why tell this story anyway? The one-dimensional jealous ex-husband tale has been told to death as it is. I do believe "Girlfriend," was a film that started with good intentions, and of course, we know where those usually end up, and they ended up there this time. That's a cheap shot. Good intentions can be good, but you gotta have a good story to go with it, and "Girlfriend," just doesn't have one.

ROAD, MOVIE (2010) Director: Dev Benegal

3 STARS

At first, the title, "Road, Movie", seems almost too straightforward, but actually, there's more to this strange, yet endearing film. An Indian film, spoken mostly in Hindi, the movie begins with young Vishnu (Abhay Deol) who struggles to get out from his father's shadow. His father's not bad or mean, but he's a hair oil salesman, and wants Vishnu to follow in the family business. Instead, he finds an old Chevy Truck. How old is it? It's so old that he agrees to cross the Indian desert to take it to it's owners, a museum. They want to display it. Now, in case you're wondering what kind of museum would want this, but actually, the cool thing about the truck, that Vishnu finds out later, is that it doubles as a traveling movie theatre. He finds this out later, when he and his two pick-ups, a young boy (Mohammad Faisal) and Om, (Satish Kausik) use the theatre to help get away from some corrupt cops, who think the truck and the movie theatre equipment is stolen. He picks up Om, who asks for a ride to some out-of-the-way fair, that may or may not actually exist, but did manage to fix the truck, a couple of times when it was broken in the middle of the desert. He later, picks up a Woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee), who also climbs aboard as well. The movie is fairly aimless and episodic, like all great epic journeys, like all great road movies are. Random people, random events. This one, has some slight Jodorowsky meets Homer-style absurdity to it. During one point, when they get caught stealing from some warlords water supply, Vishnu hair oil turns out to be just as usual as the movie theatre he's carrying. There is this, almost purgatory like aspect to "Road, Movie," particularly at the end. Do they ever get to that museum they're supposed to be going to? Do they even remember that's where they're going at the end? I know, I had to look back and remember when writing this; and it seemed to be fairly insignificant to begin with. Hey, it isn't the destination, but the pilgrimage itself, isn't it. I guess that's all that's really being elaborated on in "Road, Movie," but it was quite a nice cool way to go about it. I was mostly entertained, and the footage of the landscapes are some cool places that I had never seen before, so I'll recommend "Road, Movie".

THE WAR ROOM (1993) Directors: Christ Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

4 1/2 STARS

Documentaries, more than any other genre, particularly the ones of the cinema verite variety, are wonderful windows into the times. History lessons that never get taught. The way something actually was at a specific moment in place. They tend to be about the behind the scenes of things, and if they're lucky, sometimes they can be about major moments in history. That's one of the reasons why Presidential Elections have been a major subject for them. The HBO movie "By the People", documented the behind-the-scenes of Obama's 2008 Election bid, that one's is the most recent, and it doesn't take much to contrast that with "Election," about the Wisconsin Democratic Primary in 1960 between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy, and you can see how drastic the times, but the sausage-making that is politicking has changed, and the many ways it's stayed the same. The most famous and possibly best movie like this, is "The War Room," from legendary documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. Possibly because it might have been the most unusual and strangest of political campaigns in modern, Clinton's '92 Presidential run. No Democrat had been in office in 12 years, and they were just eight years after Reagan had turned the entire country red. Clinton's campaign started with Gennifer Flowers (Man, has it been awhile since that name has been mentioned), and somehow ended, with a landslide win, in what will probably be the last legitimate 3-person Presidential race in history, and somehow, no matter what the press releases, the candidates or the advisors say, you don't think that such a campaign can hinge on George Stephanopolous, trying to convince a Chicago AM radio jock the usefullness of publishing an inaccurate story of Hilary Clinton having given birth to a Black child out of wedlock. (Man, the conspiracy-laden right wing were starting then, weren't they.) Stephanopolous and James Carville, both look so strikingly young in this film, it's almost otherworldly to even think that they, were essentially the people running the country. It's also bizarre to see Carville holding an intense strategy sessions, while a twelve-pack of Budweiser is being opened and passed around. Hey, times have certainly changed, this was before everybody had to drink Red Bull. Their devotion to Clinton is unwavering, although, it's hard to tell whether the tone of the campaign was determined so much by the candidate, or by the staff, or both. "The War Room," in the title, is about as unimpressive as can be. It's whatever room they can manage to scrounge up, put a decent-sized table around, and have campaign meetings, that hinge on the kind of signs to pass out during the convention. "The War Room," also strangely marks the only time D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus recieved an Oscar nomination, for Best Documentary. I'm not sure how it compares to some of their historically important rockumentaries like "Don't Look Back," or "Monterey Pop", but it's certainly a worthy entry, and it's gonna be watched for years as a study of how maybe the most unusual Presidential election in Modern history, played out, and how it was masterminded by two of the most different and unlikely of individuals behind the scenes, in Carville and Stephanopolous. Especially considering how they've become such constant and regular presences in the news and political worlds, seeing them, right before they would become household names, in the most surreal of environments, is fascinating good enough to watch "The War Room," alone, even without the significant historical importance the film.

2012 (2009) Director: Rolan Emmerich

3 STARS

You know, I actually kinda dug "2012". Not gonna lie, I wasn't exactly looking forward to watching this one; I've never been a big disaster movie fan, nor am I, a particularly big fan of Writer/Director Roland Emmerich. Like most of his films, I don't think there's much use or need to take "2012" so seriously, but for about, the first half of the movie especially, I actually got into it. It's totally ridiculous and completely absurd, and way-beyond every probably known scientific theory, but I'm recommending it, because, I was mostly entertained. There's two main stories, one begins in 2009, when a geologist, Dr. Adrian Helmsley, (Chiwetel Ejiofor) reports to the President's main advisor, Carl Anheuser (Oliver Platt) that the Earth is about to be destroyed. It seems the Earth's core is heating up, at an alarming rapid rate, and it's already started causing some worldwide catastrophes such as tsunamis, and global warming. It's around this time, a secret production is planned in China, to be something, that's supposedly gonna save mankind. Pricetag to get on, a billion Euros, as well as a scientifically chosen few, not to mention global superpower world leaders (Although curiously, Africa seems to have been missing from this.) As 2012, the supposed Ancient date of the Apocalypse according to the Mayan calendar, (which it isn't, it's actually only the date that the Mayan calendar ends), there's been a noticeable increase in world disasters and mass suicides, and many people in California, and waking up to giant cracks in the street and collapsed freeways. (So no difference. Kidding, folks.) It's here where a failed novelist, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), has also begun piecing together some of the bits of information that the world might be coming to an end. He showed up with his kids to take them to a lake near Yellowstone Park, a lake which no longer exists, and a Yellowstone Park that's about to explode. It's there he runs into a crazed A.M. radio conspiracy D.J., Charlie Frost (Woody Harrelson, and man, is he making a living off these kinds of characters.), who might not be nearly as crazy as he seems, especially when California, finally does fall off into the ocean. Somehow, Jackson wrangles up his kids, ex-wife, Kate (Amanda Peet), and her name husband Gordon (Tom McCarthy), by driving through California in a limo, and Boy's Big Boy's donut rolls past every them, and building after building begins blowing up, and the roads, keep bouncing up under them, and a few "Speed"-like impossible highways jumps later, they're on a plane out of California, and eventually they catch up to a rich Russian friend, Yuri (Zlatko Buric), and are on the last plane out of America, and into the Himalayas, were the "Arks," are almost completed building. That was coolest video game, I've seen in movies in a while. The ending of "2012," became a little too cliche for me, particularly how the Platt character is cold-hearted and ruthless about his survival, but no one else, and how he just pressumes command after President Wilson (Danny Glover) makes a last-second decision to not go on the ark, although his daughter Laura (Thandie Newton) does find a way to make it, right around the time, the South Pole relocates to somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin. These sort of one-dimensional characters just put these kinds of films to a screeching halt, although I'll give credit for making some of his arguments seem reasonable at first, it didn't transcend the stereotype. I doubt he was looking for any stereotype transcending, but that would've been nice to see. Still, I had more fun with "2012" than most disaster movies, and even more fun than some of Emmerich's misguided previous disaster films like the heavily overrated "Independence Day". (Haven't seen "The Day After Tomorrow", yet) He says this was his last disaster film, and I hope it is too, but at least he ended on a fun one.

THE BLACK DAHLIA (2006) Director: Brian De Palma

2 1/2 STARS

The case of "The Black Dahlia," is one of the most infamous crimes of early Hollywood. I've long heard about it, even before this movie was made. It's already got some interesting twists and turns, without having the great L.A. Crime Pulp-Novelist James Ellroy, involved in the writing of the movie. On paper, this movie has enough talent that it really should succeed. Brian De Palma directing, good actors, some wonderful sets, beautiful Oscar-nominated cinematography, some myths on the history of Hollywood.... on paper, this should've worked. The movie begins with two cops, both of whom happen to be former boxers. Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) narrates the film, and is officially in the role of detective for this neo-noir. He had a winning amatuer and professional record, but for reasons that are never fully explained, he became a cop instead, and his last match is against the Police champ, and future partner Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) for charity. They're publicized as "Fire" vs. "Ice", and after the fight, they become friends, along with Lee's live-in girlfriend Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), whom he first met on a case years ago. There odd relationship soon develops a strange "Jules and Jim"-like quality, although Bucky rejects any advances by Kay, and does his best to repress any of his own feelings towards her. Instead, he begins focusing his attention on a gruesome murder of a young starlet-wannabe, Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner, seen only in flashback, and a few rehearsal tapes she shot at some of the studios.) They have a disturbingly hard time tracking anybody that new Elizabeth, but eventually, they manage to track her down to a lesbian club she used to frequent to score an occasional drink by pretending to be femme. It's there, that Bucky meet Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank), the movie's second femme fatale. She admits to knowing Liz and one of her friends on the audition circuit. She's from a rich family, with a father, Emmett (John Kavanagh) who basically built Hollywood out of old wood thrown away by Mack Sennett. His "Hollywoodland" development, is what the original Hollywood sign used for development, and it's also around the spot where Liz, apparently filmed a porn movie with a couple friends. Madeleine is definitely acting out, but she's also hiding something, as all great femme fatale who eventually sleep with the detectives are. "The Black Dahlia," had quite a few problems. First, the pacing. De Palma almost always seems to have trouble finding the correct pace for most of his films, even some of his really good ones, but he usually either quick cuts and presses the action forward as much as he can, or he tens to really pace himself and be more cerebral with his pacing. Here, I think he chose the former, and it eventually wore itself out a bit too much. We had a hard time caring as much for the end of the film, as we were in the beginning, and the beginning wasn't exactly working out great to begin with. The second is the casting. Josh Hartnett was somewhat hot at the time, but he doesn't really seem like a natural fit in the detective role, particularly this film. He lacks the beaten-down-by-life feel he should have, and half the time, he just seems bemused by everything around him. The other strange acting choice was Hilary Swank, who I normally love, but while she does everything she can with this, this is not a believable part for her. Period pieces in general are somewhat troubling for her, but as a femme fatale, particularly this femme fatale, didn't really work. I wonderer a bit what would happen if Hilary and Scarlett had switched roles, that might have helped this film a bit, might have helped them out, too. (Although Scarlett Johansson was fine in her part, but she could've had more fun in the other role, I bet. Having Eckhart and Hartnett switching roles might not have been a bad idea, either) This long puzzle seem to start unraveling, and then, doesn't really stop for the longest time either. The last hour or so of the film, seems to go on forever, with one last twist after one last twist. It's dark, seedy, and beautiful and has all the elements of a great modern noir, but it's one of those stories about somebody having all the notes at their disposal, but none of the music. Ultimately, I was disappointed in "The Black Dahlia".

LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING (1955) Director: Henry King

3 STARS

A winner of three Oscars, including two for music, "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," must have seemed provacative in it's time. It's hasn't aged particularly well, unfortunately. Based on her autobiographical novel, when we first meet Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones), somebody calls into an operating room, and calls out "Doctor". I must admit, I wasn't expecting Jennifer Jones to come out. Han,is Eurasian. One of her parents were British, while the other was Chinese, and while her friend Anne (Virginia Gregg), who is also Eurasian, typically tries to pass herself off as caucasian, so as to, seem more desireable to the married men she's sleeping around with, I guess? (It's a little obaque the explanations) Han is constantly at a struggle between her Asian side, and her European side, and this is shown often in the clothes she chooses to wear, and not a whole lot else other than her insistant dialogue about it. (In the clothes defense, the film's third Oscar was for Costume Design) It's around this time, that she reluctantly begins a relationship with Mark Elliott, (William Holden) an American correspondent, currently station in Hong Kong to cover the Chinese Civil War, which broke out shortly after the Communist Revolution. Nowadays, there's soome obvious thoughts we have, like why couldn't a girl, who was at least, really Asian even play the part of Dr. Han? Of course, if wasn't practice to mix the races in Hollywood at that time, and when a lead character was Asia, he/she was often portrayed by a white actor/actress. (Although the movie did win a special Golden Globe for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding) "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," is probably best remember for the title song, and for the famous beach scene with Holden and Jones, one of many times they tried to make allusions to the famous scene in "From Here to Eternity". Natural, the problems arise involving cultures, like will Han's Chinese family accept mark into the family, or the fact that Mark was married before, and is still in the mix up a divorce, or how about having a wife who's a professional in her own right, a doctor no less. To me, she seems to care as much, if not moreso for her profession than she does for Mark. Maybe that's why the ending, with her lover not coming back from the war in Korea, seems rather sudden. This isn't one of the really great old Hollywood movies, but it's worth watching at least for historic value. Although I spent much of the film wondering who I'd cast opposite Lucy Liu in a Lifetime movie remake that would surely give her an Emmy nomination. There's a few infamous stories about Jennifer Jones being a bitch on the set, that are fun to read.
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