I will never be mistaken for a movie reviewer, but I just saw a film that struck me as both important and one that might slip under our increasingly comic book and video game dominated pop culture radar.
In the spirit of full disclaimer, my usual taste in movies IS the comic book and video game escapist type stuff, so I can speak with some authority on the subject.
I am far more likely to be found enjoying the Chronicles of Riddick than the chronicle of two Chinese girls growing up in another era being physically tortured to satisfy one of the most historically bizarre cultural aesthetic/sexual fetishes of all time.
And look, first of all, in my macho defense, it wasn't my idea.
I was visiting a friend in L.A. (who's even less art film oriented than I am if truth be told) who was going to the screening and asked me to come along.
Suddenly there I was, the mister Goodfellas/Machete/Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! guy at the ultimate chick flick!
Quiet, contemplative, patient, intelligent -- everything I'm not.
Except a funny thing happened.
The film was undeniably engaging.
After a half an hour or so of adjusting my New York metabolism to the film's rhythm, I found myself overcoming my usual prejudice of anything thought or emotion provoking and accepting the simple fact that I was witnessing a quiet, graceful greatness.
The film is called Snow Flower And The Secret Fan and it is an extraordinary achievement.
It should be recognized as one of the year's best. It's that good.
The direction by Wayne Wang, the script (Angela Workman, Michael Ray, Ronald Bass, novel by Lisa See), the performances (Bingbing Li -- amazing, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu, Hugh Jackman), cinematography (Richard Wong), editing (Deirdre Slevin), music (Rachel Portman), all exceptional.
In a time of such turmoil and difficulty and divisiveness and despair, this film actually gives you hope.
Whether you relate directly to the literal storyline or see it as a poetic allegory, the quality of the work is a very effective emotional communication in a world that has lost its ability to feel anything.
In this era of pride of ignorance and deification of the superficial, the very existence of this film is an act of brazen, courageous rebellion in its utterly unfashionable expression of its love of humanity, its celebration of the strength of the human heart, and in its revelation of the eternity of the spirit.
The producers (Florence Sloan and Wendi "Rocky" Murdoch) have performed a triple miracle by first getting such seemingly uncommercial subject matter made into a film, then making the subject surprisingly accessible, and then by making such a high quality film with such a modest budget.
The pure motivation of the filmmakers' passion, proven by the impossible act of actually getting this film done, and done so well, is a passion that I am quite sure shall prove to be contagious.
If moviegoers give it a chance.
As our society spends day after day fighting desperately to keep itself from drowning in the lowest common denominator level cultural mediocrity imposed upon it, the filmmakers here need to be recognized and thanked for aspiring to, supporting the pursuit of, and achieving this moment of greatness.
You are setting higher standards which our younger generations need to see. This work is a significant contribution to the art form and the history of film, and something you can be proud of forever.
Every woman who has ever had a complicated relationship with a best friend needs to see this.
And guys, if you enjoy experiencing rarely found pure quality work in the world of moviemaking, you'll enjoy this too.
I suggest you sneak into an afternoon show and sit in the back where no one will see that tear in your eye at the end of this beautiful film.
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