Throne of heroes

Michele and I have seen several interesting movies lately, and in the American tradition of defining my life by the pieces of entertainment I experience, I’ll tell you all about them. Spoilers follow.
Most recent was Hero, which has received a lot of praise from critics. Personally, I thought it was amazing film in many respects–visually, you are not likely to see a more impressive movie anytime soon. Several scenes were so vibrant with color and style that they remained indelibly stamped in memory long after I left the theater. (A scene in which two brightly-colored warriors gracefully cut their way up an endless stairway through hundreds of enemy soldiers was just… breathtaking.)
That said, the movie toppled ignobly off of the pedestal upon which I had placed it about twenty minutes short of the closing credits. At that point, we learn the Real Message behind the Movie when one of the main characters reaches up and yanks off his plastic face-mask to reveal the grinning face of… Chairman Mao! Well, not really. But for the final twenty cringe-inducing minutes of this movie, we get a long and painful lecture from the Mao stand-in character about how it’s really too bad when people must be killed for the Good of the Unity of Mother China, but that’s just the Way Things Work. Subtle.
That was what knocked this film out of Best Movie Ever territory as far as I was concerned. Until our Great and Beloved Leader launches into his little propogandist speech, however, the movie is incredibly entertaining. So take that however you will–but in my mind, it’s a bit of otherwise brilliant cinema ruined by a ghastly message. (For what it’s worth, Michele didn’t seem as bothered by the People’s Party propoganda as I was, so it’s quite possible I’m blowing it all way out of proportion.)
The other recently-viewed film of note is Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Michele and I have very much enjoyed each of the Kurosawa films we’ve seen–Seven Samurai is of course a classic, and we loved Rashomon (which we managed to watch with Alan and his family before they moved out of state). Throne of Blood is a re-telling of the Macbeth story, but set in feudal Japan. Instead of scheming nobles and princes, we are treated to plotting samurai, and the characters are as wonderfully flawed and intriguing as they are in the original tale. Highly recommended.

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