Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Month of Mini Holidays: Day 4

Again, 2 holidays on one day.

Holiday #1: Er Tong Jie/Children's Day (Taiwan)
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Taiwan (Republic of China)

The Republic of China administering Taiwan designates Children's Day (兒童節) on April 4, pursuant to Article 5 of the Order to Implement Commemoration Days and Holidays (紀念日及節日實施辦法). Related institutions, groups and schools often hold celebrating actitivies. It is not a legal holiday.

From what I understand, it's like Christmas where kids get candy and toys just for being kids. The Order to Implement Commemoration Days and Holidays sounds a little too Orwellian for me.

Holiday #2: A Drop of Water is a Grain of Gold Day (Turkmenistan)
I'm not making these up, you know. Does this holiday sound confusing? That's because the Turkmenistani word for Christmas is "A gift below a tree makes a child happy while too much pumpkin pie gives a child diarrhea day."

Three...Extremes is an anthology film comprising 3 short films by Asia's best horror directors (assembled from all different countries which accounts for Takashi Miike beating out Hideo Nakata). Apparently it follows the same format as 2002's Three but these films are more...wait for it...Extreme!

The first film is Dumplings, directed by Hong Kong's Fruit Chan. It is the most extreme of the bunch and might have served better being anchored at the end of the movie. To put it into one word it is sick. Depraved, disgusting and gut-wrenching. I haven't seen a movie that disgusted me more thoroughly than this one. I won't divulge much of the plot so as not to upset my weaker-stomached audience but it involves an aging woman seeking youthful looks through another woman's dumplings. It's what's in the dumplings that's upsetting.

The second film would have seemed more depraved had it not been placed after the first but I digress. Cut, directed by Park-Chan Wook (of Oldboy fame), is masterfully directed in an intense modern style. The acting is a little poorer than the other two films but it makes up for it in innovative depravity. A film director returns home and is attacked and moved to a movie set that looks like his home (I know) to find his wife tied to the bench of a pian and her fingers glued to the keys. The perpetrator is an extra in all of the director's films who can't get over the fact that he is rich, famous, happy, married to a beautiful woman and, worst of all, a good man.

He forces him to choose between having his wife's fingers cut off one by one every five minutes or ending the whole affair by strangling a little girl who he brought along for the ride. Very intense and despite an ending I'm not sure I'll ever understand it's my favourite of the two.

The third film, Box by Japan's Takashi Miike, is pretty standard fare. Why they picked the Japanese master of extreme cinema to do a film that is more reminiscent of Japanese Ghost story master Hideo Nakata is beyond me. However, it is visually gorgeous. Cold, snowy imagery mixed with hellish fiery scenes make it an amazing film to watch in pitch darkness. But it lacks any of the bite the other two films, and indeed the rest of Miikes filmography, have. The man directed Audition for Christ's sake! #5 on my all-time favourites!!!

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