Friday, 23 Feburary 2007
Gracie and I enjoyed Cheang Pou-Soi's Dog Bite Dog (Gau Ngao Gau, Hong Kong, 2006). It's a relentless crime thriller about a Cambodian hitman and a Hong Kong cop who cross paths and never stop trying to kill each other. It races along and hardly ever pauses for breath. Our only reservation was that it's kind of like a painting that uses only one small segment of the color spectrum. Of course we all like non-stop brutality, violence and sadism in movies, but in Dog Bite Dog it gets monotonous after a while.
The complete opposite of this is Simon Mágus, written and directed by the Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi. It's one of the best movies I've seen in a while, very calm, very sweet. The title character is a sorcerer who leaves his home in Budapest to go to Paris and help the French police solve a murder. He assists the police and runs into a rival sorcerer who challenges him to a duel. Simon accepts but all he really cares about is seeing Jeanne again, a young Parisian woman he noticed at the train station when he arrived. There are no special effects to speak of, very little action, elegant cinematography and pleasant music cues from Bartok, Brian Eno, Beethoven et al. (Note: not to be confused with Simon Magus, written and directed by Ben Hopkins.)
Gracie apparently thought the subject matter of this scene from Yasujiro Ozu's The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice would be too disturbing for me.