Sunday, July 13, 2003

Cambridge Film Festival log (part I)

Another thing from this time of year, a whole run of new films getting advance premieres before a proper UK release.

First out of the traps was Spirited Away, a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibili film (and that's really all you need to know about it to make a decision on), which is currently the audience favourite for the films shown so far.

My next viewing was Come drink with me, a recently restored print of an old Hong Kong martial-arts actioner, that is clearly part of the family tree from which Crouching Tiger sprang; only this one, being about 40 years old, does all the stunts without the benefit of CGI. The plot is fairly slight - bandits capture official, and his sister goes to rescue him; meanwhile a drunken beggar and an abbot who studied under the same sensei fight to determine which is the heir to the tradition. Only the sister is about a 10th level martial artist, the chief bandit, Jade-face Tiger, about 11th, while the drunken beggar seems to be an Akashic brother who's wandered in from Mage and has a fistful of coincidental magick tricks, while the Abbot's magick is completely Vulgar.

By the final battle scene, our heroine seems to have picked up the xps to match Jade-face - and a retinue of more women warriors who seem to outdo the general line of grunts on either side.

Last to date - Hulk

Now the jolly green giant hasn't been one of my favourite Marvel heroes, mainly because the villains - at least in the old days of the '60s and '70s - were so lame, as opposed to the recent run with the mysterious ?FBI? agents after a Banner who wasn't going to change if he could avoid it. Unlike last year's Spiderman - another character who was always a tedious tosser, as well as fighting lamers - I went to see the early screening of this (it's not out 'til August here) on the strength of the Ang Lee name.

It's the least faithful of the Hulk reboots/homages (cf. the Planetary teaser story, or the Ultimates), but manages to drag in both the gamma/bomb part and the modern magi-tech of genetic engineering and nanotech, by splitting the Banner role across the generations.

Cerebral, which one wouldn't have expected from the character's main role. Good cinema - definitely. Great cinema - probably not. The best thing out of Hollywood to date this year - maybe (by comparison X2 was rather formulaic, though still good, and Matrix:Reloaded is only half a movie).

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