The Story of the Weeping Camel is a beautiful little film about a nomadic family in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. When one of their camels rejects her newborn calf, the family summons a violinist from a neighboring village to play music to the mother camel to coax her into accepting her calf. The baby camel, rejected by his mama, is truly pitiful – crying all of the time, alone and abandoned, while all of the other baby camels are nuzzled and cared for by their mothers. It cannot get enough milk being hand fed by the family and will die if its mother continues to reject it. I guess what is so startling about this story is the contrast between the simple, straightforward lives of the herders and our busy modern Western lives. The family sends their two young sons, perhaps ages 7 and 10, on a two day journey by themselves on camel back to get the musician.
Beautiful, quiet, touching story. Here’s the trailer.
Enjoyed Lost in Translaton, directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. A movie actor comes to Tokyo to do a Suntory whiskey ad and meets up with a young woman who has accompanied her neglectful husband to Tokyo. The film reminded me of my first and several subsequent trips to Tokyo, highlighting the most obvious absurdities. Bill Murray plays up his straight man comic genius as he tries to decipher Japanese English. A sweet film, the beauty in the subtleties.
Here’s a NY Times article describing what truly was lost in translation. (Thanks Marc Escobosa)
Saw two great girl-power films recently – Whale Rider about a young Maori girl in New Zealand standing up for her destiny as a tribal leader and Bend It Like Beckham, about an Indian girl in England who loves to play soccer but has to fight her parent’s cultural prejudices in order to play.
Finally got around to seeing Matrix II, after many discouraging reviews. The New Yorker article was particularly damning
It would have been nice if some of that complexity, or any complexity, had made its way into the sequel. Butóto get to the bad newsóìMatrix Reloadedî is, unlike the first film, a conventional comic-book movie, in places a campy conventional comic-book movie, and in places a ludicrously campy conventional comic-book movie.
But I have to say I disagree with the reviewer. The great appeal of the first movie was its premise – that human beings are living their lives thinking they are engaged in living in a normal world, while actually their entire experience is an illusion generated by computers run amok. The premise parallels standard Buddhist philosophy which tells that we live in the world of Samsara, an illusion filled with drama and suffering. When our hero Neo takes whatever pill he takes (the red one or the blue one, I don’t remember) he is consciously choosing to break free of his illusions and inhabit the real world behind the scenes. This is pretty straightforward, philosophically speaking. The second movie gets more complex. The overarching theme of Matrix Reloaded is the competing world views of pure Determinism – a mechanistic world of cause and effect – and that of Free Will – where choice is a creative act that breaks through cause and effect and rewrites the script of how life unfolds. We have two gods, the cold and calculating Matrix architect who rebuilds a new matrix everytime the existing one implodes, and the precocious Oracle who nudges Neo to trust his instincts. Neo wants to be told what to do, but must ultimately find his own will and make his own choices. What new twists will be revealed in Matrix III? A hint comes at the end of Reloaded when Neo stops the tentacled killing machines in the unplugged world with his will alone.
Saw a wonderful film tonight – “Together” – at a special showing. It opens this Friday at the Bridge Theatre on Geary in San Francisco. From the flyer:
Xiaochun, a 13-year old talented violinist, lives with his father in a provincial Chinese city. Shy and sensitive, the boy expresses his feelings through his music. Because his sweet-natured father wants the best for him, they move to metropolitan Beijing so the boy can take lessons that befit his talent. But Xiaochun’s new world is unlike any he’s known: he meets new and demanding teachers, discovers true friendship, and learns the ecstasy and pain of first love. Directed by Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin, Temptress Moon). In Mandarin Chinese; fully subtitled in English.
This is a touching, lovely film. Had me crying. I highly recommend it.
Just saw Nowhere in Africa at the Castro (SF). Beautiful.