Monday, March 13, 2006

Three Extremes (2004)

Crunch, crunch, crunch goes the first short in the Asian movie three-fer Three...Extremes. This first short is titled Dumplings and tells the sordid tale of a woman whose dumplings are famous for their rejuvenation powers...but what goes into making those dumplings is a bit shocking. An ex-TV star, hoping to recapture her husband's passion, begins this dumpling treatment and sees dramatic results in her appearance. She becomes obsessed with the dumplings even after she finds out what goes into them...ick!

Not so much scary as stomach-churning, I made the mistake of eating some dinner while watching this movie. My stomach was flip-flopping throughout the entire short! I thought this was the best of the bunch, just for its shock value and strong story. Plus Bai Ling, bless her crazy fashion sense (in real life, not the film!), does a pretty good acting job with her slicing and dicing of the mystery ingredient.

The next film, Cut, tells the tale of a successful but oh-so-nice director who is kidnapped along with his wife by an irate extra who has worked in all his movies. Extra is pissed that the director is rich and successful yet is still such a nice guy. The director must chose between strangling a small child or the kidnapper will cut off one of his wife's fingers (the wife is a pianist) every 5 minutes. The extra is HILARIOUS, performing a musical bit as different extras he has played in the director's films. That was pretty much the highlight of the film - the rest was so-so.

The last film, Box, is the most artistic and examines one woman's reality. She has dreams in which she is buried in a small box in an isolated snowy field. We learn that as a girl she and her sister were performers in a circus act. As their finale, they would contort themselves into small metal boxes. The lead was jealous of her sister as she was preferred by their trainer (who some believe to also be their father - which I don't buy). This leads to the sister's accidental death by being burned alive inside of her metal box! The remaining sister has been haunted by this and eventually returns to the snowy land where the circus big top still stands. She is confronted by her trainer, begs for forgiveness, ends up in the box in the snow, and wakes up next to her sister. As with some other Asian movies, Box toys with our sense of time and sense of reality. Out of the three films, this one is most beautifully shot with stark landscapes and careful attention to set design that evokes the moods of the characters.

Still, my favorite was Dumplings...though my recommendation is not to eat while you watch it!

Order it on Amazon!

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