Thursday, August 18, 2005

Like father, like son, like... holy crap kung fu!

I was really excited to watch Sin City last night. Jer and Josh were supposed to run off and rent it... and I would spend the evening pondering how Carla Gugino's breasts would look whilst cooking up ribs in our kitchen.... ahem. Anyway, Josh and Jer were gone a while and sadly came back sans Sin City. Jerry happily offered 3 alternatives; Be Cool (ugh) Guess Who (AHHHHHHHH!) and Kung Fu Hustle (?).

As non excited as I was to watch any of them, I chose KFH... and was simply blown away.

First off - the movie defies any sort of genre or contrallable handle by the viewer. It goes wherever and does whatever it wants (for instance, the impromptu Axe dance number you see below!), and the free feeling made my mind tingle with excitement. Second, it is a very beautiful film, unbelievably beautiful!! Third, it is very very funny. And finally, it is a film geeks dream come true!

We are not talking about some lame references to Resevoir Dogs or Star Wars, this film lays down subtle little nods to Astaire and Rogers in Top Hat, Murnau's Sunrise, Chaplin's finale in City Lights, Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and a little gag from the Untouchables (What are you prepared to do!!), as well as many others. Stephen Chow stars and directs - both turns are amazing. I was particularly thrilled with his handling of the camera - not specifically in the action sequences (which it is stunning) but more in the smaller moments... the tender moments. It is such a thrill to fall into a film, not expecting anything... and getting so much out of it.

If I could compare it to a film, Kill Bill comes to mind. Not because of the wire-esque action scenes - or the sense of humor - but more in the sense that each film takes the viewer in many different directions. You never know what is going on... or where the movie is heading. Now, I am sure fans of the this type of cinema know these stories and can see where things are leading - but I do not. Thusly - very thrilled.

Rent it immediately kats!

One final note; I was able to finish up the short story "Hallowed Be Thy Game" last night before the flick. It is a quick read from our resident author Mr. Kern and a tale with two narratives woven into one event. I have read Kern's work before and have enjoyed his characters and manipulation of narratives, but this piece seems to achieve more than his previous endeavors.

The visuals are very strong (now this might be because I was waiting to see Sin City...) and my mind drew up a comic book world for the Missionary and his '68 GTO. In fact, the image Kern created above really influenced the imagery in my mind. So I read the piece with Frank Miller style red and black art pouring through the words.

If I can complain, one area that began to disorient me was JH's memory of his trip with Teddy to the jumbotonless tent revival - it is the longest section of the memory trips... and some of it tends to veer me away from the event driving the story. But I fully understand why Kern has shown us this moment - it is defining for our character.

I also wish I could have known RJ better... but so does the Missionary.

Read it kids - you'll dig it (and be very impressed by Alex's massive vocabulary and visual storytelling!!)



krysta jo said...

You're long-winded today.

Kern said...

Jed-Thanks for the props! I'm kind of fiddling around with certain changes right now in the RJ department that changes certain things a little bit. In some of the new potential changes, RJ sort of uses Jefferson in his "work", which initially gives the kid the idea that this is a fun and cool line of work at first. You know what happens after that, but what I find interesting about the change is that there's a real impetus for him not to want to follow RJ's path.

I'm glad you liked it. I am already nailing down the specifics of the next story, which is an update of a two page story from high school, which will now incorporate certain elements from my tumultous friendship with Jen W.

If anyone else cares to read it, let Jed know and he can forward it to you.

Thanks for your support everyone!

Kern said...

I had too much fiber yesterday, and it made me long winded.

Kern said...

By the way, Jed, now that you've read it, did it change your perception of the artwork that was influenced by the story?

I'm thinking of doing a different art piece for each of the stories of the eventually to be book.

Damfino said...

Ok - so did you try to be very visual with the event and not so much with the memory?

Why did you build it as the reader watching the Missionary and then changing that relationship and allowing the reader to hear his inner story? That sounds confusing... why did the event read as if the reader was god (omniscent?) and then the memory was from JH's pov?

Damfino said...

Wait - the artwork I added to the post?

Damfino said...

Well, now I get why there is a spade on his forehead... I just thought you were smoking crack again!

"As he gripped tightly, two stigmatic wounds broke at his wrist and emptied their contents into the sink. "

Good stuff man! Really visceral and visual!!

Kern said...

I'll take the questions in order.

1. As I think about it now, I notice what you mean. It's weird because I wanted to tell the whole story in third person omniscient, but I felt like there were certain elements that were too personal not to come from his mouth. But it turned out to be very interesting the way you perceived it. I notice that I do a lot of things subconsciously and they pop up far later. In this case, because he's right in the moment it's very easy to see what's happening as it's happening. That is perhaps the reason it's so visual. Memories such as his flashbacks, are very hazy and less detail oriented. I find that memories are most interesting in anecdotal form. My dad loves to tell stories at dinner about his childhood, and it's really stuck with me, his ability to recall and tell a story. I think that because he's recalling these things they aren't going to be as clear.

Also, I thought it was an unusual way to tell the story. One I don't think I've seen too often if at all.

Kern said...

Also, if you wonder why he is having the flashbacks during the card game, think about how close he is to Alamogordo, and what happened there. When you put the two together, it sort of alludes to what he might be doing in those parts to begin with and why all these things are on his mind. I also dug the very visual nature of the story. I saw it in color, but very Leone-esque.

In the remainder of the stories for the book I'm doing, you'll probably run into more split narratives(3rd omniscient/first person).

Or do you find that it comes off too confusing?

Damfino said...

You won't like this... but I am not very well read. The missionary elements read like King. He always writes in omniscent third, allowing the reader to know every thought in each character's mind (usually he uses it to explain what is going through a characters head has he/she is being shot to death or something gruesome is occuing).

Therefore, I could hear Tom and know what his mind was thinking... and hear the Missionary and hear how worried he was. Then, in the memory, I was not able to hear Teddy or RJ... and suddenly I am in JH's mind and a little confused.

Damfino said...

Bingo - but I am not saying I don't like it. That's what is tough... I can't tell you if it worked fully.

I guess I saw them as two completely different characters (assisted by the name change) - except for the end where the mirror combined the two (and I don't mean RJ... sorry, trying to stay ambiguous for everyone here).

Damfino said...

We are longwinded today... um... Kung Fu Hustle ruled.

Kern said...

Just to clarify, are you saying that the confusion comes from going from a place where you can hear everyone's thoughts to the flashbacks where you only get Jefferson's memory of things?

Damfino said...

Yar - identification is tricky... I was unsure of the missionary and his intentions... until I was reading his memories. I kinda dug not knowing if he was evil or not.

I guess I mean... the change up stopped my mind dead in its tracks and made me rearrange my look and feel for the read... I sorta lost my groove... but that does not mean the story is not interesting... I am just laying out how my reader's mind was moving.

Kern said...

Gotcha. I liked the ambiguity of the character the best. I thought that was one of the strongest points.

Anyhow, sorry to comandeer(sp?) the thread.

I'll probably put Kung Fu Hustle in my Netflix thread this next time, unless it's all checked out. In which case I'll catch up on some more Criterion edition stuff.