Saturday, November 17, 2007
I’m learning there are movies I love that I shouldn’t bother mentioning. At least not with zeal. Like I did not too long ago recommending Kitchen Stories to a Norwegian-American, sure that he would love the subtlety of the way that story’s told; certain that the sacrifice that’s made at movie’s end would devastate him as it did me.
The Story of the Weeping Camel is another one that I regret ever mentioning to anyone, because of course no one will ever watch it. Would you be caught dead renting a movie called “The Story of the Weeping Camel”? Of course you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have been caught buying a ticket myself -- I only saw it because I got free passes. (But it’s so good! But forget I mentioned it.)
Then there was Kung Fu Hustle. Popped it in for movie night with friends and laughed uproariously -- until I realized too late that I was the only one. Everyone else was horrified. (Mostly. They warmed up about midway through.) 
Half Nelson may be another one. Watched it last night after I tucked in Mr. Hoo and his IV drip at the hospital and returned home late to a quick dinner of scrambled eggs and the very last dregs of my sister’s homemade chutney (sweet mercy so good) (‘specially with a little dollop of Greek yogurt on there as well) and popped in the movie for company.
So subtle. So well-played. Brilliant performances by all the principles. Unnerving story line -- a high school history teacher / girl’s basketball coach / frustrated writer who dopes up in the margins of his life, is discovered by one his students -- a young girl surrounded by her own tough challenges as a kid in the inner city. A young girl who had anchored in him. Which makes her discovery of her teacher in a stall in the girls’ locker room with a crack pipe that much more complicated. She’s black, he’s white. She’s 13, he’s not.
Somehow, by the end, their friendship gets them where they need to go. Still: it’s messy, and ambiguous, and unresolved. But solid.
Made my heart ache in ways it hasn’t since I was 13 and looking for a hero.
Definitely one of those movies I’m glad I watched alone, because if I’d seen it with someone else I’d be wondering about their reaction -- did it effect them in the same way? And if it didn't there would be that post-movie conversation that would drain away the rich broth of emotion that the movie left me steeping in.
So let’s pretend I never mentioned it.
 If you happen to be one of those who really dug Kung Fu Hustle, and have a thing for the Iron Chef, check out The God of Cookery (if you can find it) -- produced by some of the same folks who were involved in Hustle, and definitely of the same flavor. You won’t be disappointed. I don’t think. But what the hell do I know.