Posted by: nastypen | November 4, 2007

Gagging Reflex Overload

Oh. My. God. I am still gagging.

The best picture i have seen this year is Ang Lee‘s Lust, Caution. I am just thankful that the censors didn’t touch a thing! The film was shown in Manila in select cinemas. Despite having limited budget I trooped to Powerplant Mall to watch it.

…and I was gloriously ravaged.

I texted my friend that if I were to be an actor, I’d gladly work for Ang Lee. Everything he touches turns into gold. The Wedding Banquet. Eat Drink Man Woman. Sense and sensibility. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Although I did not like this film much because I thought Michelle Yeoh‘s acting capability, had she had one in the first place, just killed the film. I think Hero is a far more superior martial arts epic than this. I DO love Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’s soundtrack because of Yoyo Ma. Coco Lee and her stupid power ballad should be drowned in a closet of preventable mistakes.) Brokeback Mountain. Even Incredible Hulk. Yes, I happen to love that film not just because of Eric Bana and his expandable deep blue shorts, but among the cache of superhero films, Incredible Hulk was the only one theatrical enough to bravely include elements of a Greek tragedy. that superhero film did not pander to the usual way to appease drooling nerds and comic geeks.

My friend asked if Ang Lee were to tell me to prance around naked in front of a camera, would I do it? Hell, for Ang Lee? Hell yes. But give me at least a decade to shed off the fat and look like someone justifiable to dance in front of the camera with dangling goods galore.

Speaking of dangling goods, there was nudity in Lust, Caution. And the type of nudity you don’t see in a Hollywood flick like, say The Blue Lagoon. There were no striptease-like peekaboos in this film, no nervous unbuttoning with quivering anticipation, just torn stockings and flayed qi pao’s and sexual positions that defy decent adjectives.

It was funny because there were a few people who watched in Powerplant cinema. I scoped the theater and I looked the youngest and I am no spring chicken. I was sitting a row before a woman with a walker! Next to me is an old man with a shock of white hair. The lady a few seats next to me smelled of multivitamins dipped in perfume and talcum powder which is sick. there were two other people in my age range, the rest had pubic hair when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.

Where were the younger people? Busy watching that vampire flick 30 Days of Night. (Loved the vampires. Hated the story.)

It was fun albeit irritating for me to listen to the reaction of the other viewers in the cinema. One lady clearly did not know about the film before watching this and she was muttering supplications to Lord Jesus Christ in some crucial scenes. The lady with the walker was asking her husband “What just happened? What just happened? Is she alright?” The old man next to me was shifting in his seat as the onscreen… poundings…. commenced.

But it isn’t the nudity that takes the spotlight of this film. The story is about the resistance of certain Chinese to the Imperial Japanese occupation in their country. It is not just a cloak and dagger film but an examination on frailty and manipulation. The lead actress reminds me of the Shanghai poster girls of the 1930s. Tang Wei is just gorgeous. And her eyes can go from wont of idealistic expectations to want mired in desire in a matter of flutters. If it’s true that this is her first movie ever, then she is immortalized in this film and she carried it well for a first timer. She did not shirk having to act with veteran and lauded actor Tony Leung. She held her own and I applaud her.

Nobody does tortured like Tony Leung.  Nobody.

One of the reasons why I didn’t like Martin Scorsese‘s Oscar-winning The Departed is because Tony Leung is not there.  Leonardo Dicaprio‘s character was a reprisal of Leung’s character in Infernal Affairs; I thought Dicaprio was more shrill and anxious than Leung’s tormented and frustrated.

I’m so happy to see Joan Chen in this film. I haven’t seen her in any film this decade. It pains me to think that a fine commendable actress like Joan Chen can’t get work in Hollywood whereas Lucy Liu had to do some splits in leather and in heels and is paid millions.

whoa nelly!

And the story is exquisite pain.  Nothing is clearcut in this story in terms of emotion.  True, one can point out which one is the collaborator, which one is the freedom fighter, but these labels do not really hold ground to the range of tension among the characters.  The pacing was necessary.  People found it slow, I thought it was justifiable to create traction in the story.  The art direction and set design are gorgeous.  I love the 1940s Shanghai setting.  The costumes!  The qi pao should make a comeback in the fashion world just because of this film.

I am gushing.  I cannot think straight.  That movie just rendered me into a buffoon mumbling about how great it was.  I told my sister to watch it.  She said if I could get the DVD instead.  I screamed, “This is the type of film that you have to watch on the big screen.”

More than that, this movie unnerves you.

Give Ang Lee the Oscar.  Now.



  1. Chong!!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this. Have not seen it yet. Now doubly excited to watch it. And yes, no one comes close to Tony Leung in this kind of role.

  2. huwat? may kapangalan ako? astig c”,) hi sir c”,) hindi ako ung nagcomment sa taas ha c”,)

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