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The Bottom Shelf #108

05.17.2007

We're heading into the summer season at the box office, a time that is permeated by everything All-American. Well, Yipee-Ki-Yay, JoBlo-ers... I've got something to cure all that patriotic dick-waving. Try out these foreign selections to find your bearings once again.

MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS (2002)
Directed by: Johnny To, Ka-Fai Wai
Starring: Sammi Cheng, Ching Wan Lau

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

NetFlix. Ah, how I have the greatest of love/hate relationships with you. I love that you give me access to just about every single movie that I have been looking for. I love that I don't have to get off of my lazy ass other than to walk the short distance to the mailbox to receive and return movies. I even love how I can utilize your "Watch it Now!" feature while I'm supposed to be working. But this whole thing you have with recommending movies to me based on the ratings that I've given other films? We're going to have to have a long talk about that. Time after time I have heeded your suggestions. Time after time I wondered what you were smoking and why you weren't sharing. And then along came MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS. I won't say it completely redeemed you, but dammit... it came really f*cking close.

Out of Hong Kong comes a story of a woman widowed after 7 days of marriage to a wealthy businessman. Delivered into a life of luxury and required to do nothing in order to reap the benefits of it, she is surrounded by a disapproving mother-in-law and an ex-girlfriend who just can't let go of his memory. For three years she sits in a gorgeous mansion, eating junk food, smoking and drinking excessively and possessing a general disregard for anything resembling a grieving widow. When she winds up in a car accident one night and becomes injured along the left side of her body, suddenly she is blessed (cursed?) with the ability to see ghosts with her left eye. Guided through her new lot in life by the ghost of a childhood classmate, our heroine discovers new depth to herself and the people around her.

Packaged brightly, the movie sells itself as a comedy. And it is. Silly and sweet-natured, the laughs come loud and hard at all the right times. I've never had a problem reading subtitles, and I will make the assumption that some of the humour comes from the direct translation, but much of the comedy is physical as well. Yet there's more at work here than just a simple comedy of ghosts and tortured widows. Deeply sentimental, the level of romance is deeper than ocean that big ugly blue diamond sunk to. This movie is SO good that I'm flabbergasted that it hasn't yet been remade by a big-name American director. It could appropriately be labeled as a "chick flick" but it's also solid enough of a film that it can be enjoyed by men without them having to worry about their level of masculinity being questioned. Thank you, NetFlix. May I have some more like this one, please?

Favorite Scene:

When May is possessed by Biggie Monster and is flirting with all of the men in the restaurant.

Favorite Line:

"The people of the world are safe to make rice again!"

Trivia Tidbit:

Lead actress Sammi Cheng is a popular Cantonese singer in Hong Kong, something of Hong Kong's version of J Lo when it comes to singer/actresses.

See if you liked:

AMELIE, GHOST, JUST LIKE HEAVEN

HE DIED WITH A FELAFEL IN HIS HAND (2001)
Directed by: Richard Lowenstein
Starring: Noah Taylor, Emily Hamilton

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

I went looking for a different movie when I stumbled onto this one. I was hoping to get THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE, one of the first movies that I saw the fantastic Noah Taylor in, on my queue and found out that it hasn't been released on DVD yet. (Or just isn't carried by those people who rent you discs through the mail.) I didn't even read the description of the movie. I saw the title and instantly clicked on "Add." I ended up being very glad that I did.

An Australian flick about a man in his early 30's, divorced and bouncing around from rented room to rented room, coming into contact with a wide variety of characters along the way, this is the movie that SINGLES was hoping to be. Crass, wry and darkly humourous, this movie is a perfect representation of what the men and women of my generation have put up with. Taylor's character talks about being in for the long haul as far as romance but is content to float through life, never gaining his bearings for very long. The people around him in his life are bouncing about as well, never really connecting and yet unable to succeed in life on their own.

Intensely character driven with no real plot, of course I loved it. Some of the best observations about how men and women (as well as women and women) interact, spoken clearly and without the bias that permeates much of American cinema. There is plenty to laugh at, identify with and just be entertained with. Just close enough to reality to have an impact and yet just removed enough to make you feel better about yourself, that whole, "At least I'm not THAT bad," kind of a deal.

Favorite Scene:

Let's just say... I want to go frog golfing now.

Favorite Line:

"There's all these words for a woman who doesn't want to have sex: frigid, uptight, cold, icy. But can you like even think of one word for a man that doesn't want to have sex?"
"Dead?"

Trivia Tidbit:

The opening line of the credits reads 'For Michael 1960 -1997', referring to Michael Hutchence, a close friend of director Lowenstein.

See if you liked:

WHO IS CLETIS TOUT?, ABOUT SCHMIDT, DOGS IN SPACE

As I turned in my selections for the JoBlo Summer Box Office Prediction contest, I found myself being quite sad. Everything I listed on the Top Ten were movies that I was looking forward to seeing. All of the movies were major studio releases. And I couldn't even fit all of the big names on there. Gone are the days of the "sleeper." Even the sleepers have big name stars in them. *sigh* Save me, NetFlix. Save me.

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