How to pass a 14 hour plane flight
Watch two stunning movies and spend the rest of the time thinking about them.
On this latest hop over to China — Shanghai, baby! — I took in two of the best movies I’ve seen this year. First was Hero, a Chinese martial arts movie set in pre-unified China. To call it a movie is maybe to overstate the fact that it was distributed on celluloid (or plastic disc). This is a “picture” in the truest sense. The scenes are so visually stunning I would just pause the action and stare. Like walking through a gallery of vivid stop-action animation, but it is all moving of course — and fast. The choreography puts Crouching Tiger to shame and that’s not easy to do.
Then after a too-brief nap in went Saw, a twisted recommendation from my brother. Not scary in the Ring/Grudge way, but ohmygod was it warped. Basic premise: two unlucky strangers wake up in a putrid bathroom, chained to the piping, and told they will die in 6 hours unless one guy kills the other. Depravity ensues. Since I was in the center seat I was constantly looking to my seatmates to make sure they were still sleeping. Some of the scenes in this movie, even seen peripherally, could probably be considered un-neighborly in a crowded airplane. (It was my DVD, not on the plane’s rotation.) Precisely the opposite — but no less enjoyable — than the rich tableaux of Hero.