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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Se, Jie (Lust, Caution)


The film is splendid and the much-discussed nude scenes are outstandingly beautiful and mesmerizing! They are integral part of the story as they tell so much in those moments as in any other moment that Tony Leung and newcomer Wei Tang are together with or without words exchange.

This Ang Lee film is inspired on a short story by Eileen Chang and if you’re familiar with the short you have to make emphasis on the word inspired, as Lee took many artistic licenses and also elaborated further.

Basically tells the story of how university student Wong Chia Chi (Wei Tang) becomes the incredibly seductive Mrs. Mak, a spy that gets very close to Mr. Yee (Tony Leung) with intentions of facilitating the right moment to kill him, as he’s a Japanese collaborator and a traitor to his country. I know there is a lot more in the story that from what I read was inspired in a real life traitor in the time of Japanese occupation of China.

The amazing thing about the story is that the movie shows many clues that allow several interpretations about the true intentions of Mr. Yee and they are placed there for viewer’s imagination stimulation. I hope that after some of my loyal readers see this movie we can exchange ideas about the many possibilities of Mr. Yee’s character and especially about the end of the movie.

I don’t have to say that I’m one of the most loyal admirers of Mr. Tony Leung performances that absolutely blow my mind and here he just has top himself as one of the best performers in the world. Here he’s incredibly outstanding and his performance in the whole movie –including the nude scenes- is more than mesmerizing is unbelievably good! He is a great acting master. But beautiful newcomer Wei Tang is absolutely his match. She is so good in her transformation from plain student into the seductress Mrs. Mak that you hardly believe is her first time acting and accordingly to what I read while she was in dramatic school they told her she should go for directing and not acting!! How wrong they were and how good Ang Lee was to pullout from her this amazing performance. Just for these two performances this is a must be seen movie.

I should warn you about something. The story starts slowly when introducing Wong Chia Chi as a university student, so slowly that for more than once I was about to stop watching the movie, as it was boring or not interesting. But I kept watching because Tony Leung had not appeared in the screen. Once Tony Leung appears things get totally different and gee, the story and the movie becomes really intense! So endure the beginning, as what it comes next is extremely good, intense, interesting and mesmerizing.

On the tech side, the movie has amazing cinematography by Mexican Rodrigo Prieto with nice outdoor scenes, but what is truly outstanding is the use of light in the interior scenes as he plays with light and shadows.

I know this movie is about war, could be a thriller and has drama; but to me, is one of the most intense romance movies I have ever seen. Actors expressions, their fully clothed intense and other very sweet interactions and their naked interactions are not only fascinating but very credible and will trigger all kind of emotions in viewer’s.

Some critics are comparing this movie to one I been looking forward to see, The Black Book, so now I have to rush to rent it! By the way if you like to read about movies I suggest that this time read first the many Ang Lee interviews available, as critics and viewers comments are so diverse that you could easily get the wrong idea about this movie.

The movie has already won many accolades, honors and awards, including the Golden Lion for Ang Lee and the Golden Osella for Best Cinematography for Rodrigo Prieto at the 2007 Venice fest. In the coming major awards the film has and will get more nominations, but I know that this year the Best non-English film category is populated with extremely good movies, so who knows which movie will make it in the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards and the BAFTA, if this movie makes it, it truly deserves it. Still my favorite is that fabulous Cristian Mungiu movie.

I do recommend this movie to all serious cinema lovers and to adult audiences that are familiar with European films nudity and graphic sex scenes.

Big Enjoy!!!

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