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Curse of the Golden Flower trailers and Gong Li interview

GongLi.jpgCurse of the Golden Flower is seeing a healthy release just now with the UK coming up on April 13th, so it's timely that I've picked up the trailer in multiple formats and sizes as well as an interview with one of the stars, Gong Li.

Li plays the Empress alongside the Emperor played by Chow Yun-Fat, and of the film she says:

I think Curse of the Golden Flower really is a distillation of all the best elements of Zhang Yimou's cinema-the beautiful visual images, the strong and moving story, the personal artistic style, the commercial appeal, it is all there. It is a very richly detailed film, not at all just action or just melodrama. The story is driven by the intense relationships among the characters, who are encased in the royal court. It is a very lavish but also stifling environment.

Before I give you more from her, here's the trailer for Curse of the Golden Flower in various formats:

Quicktime: High, Medium and Low
Realplayer: High, Medium and Low
Windows Media Player: High, Medium and Low

Now back to Li. She goes on to talk about working with Michael Mann and Wong Kar-wai, the Chinese film system, and her favourite performance...

On Michael Mann as a director for Miami Vice (Filmstalker review) she tells us he is demanding.

Michael Mann pays so much attention to details. He is very demanding on his actors; for Miami Vice I spent a long time training in salsa dancing, English, how to handle a gun, riding in the speedboat, how money laundering works, what life is like in the Chinese community in Cuba, and so on.

He is very good at seeing how far you can go and then pushing you to go one step further. It is like climbing a mountain of snow: first he piles up a little hill and gives you some equipment, and you think, okay, not so bad, then as you are going up he keeps piling on more and more until it is a whole mountain. You think you will never get to the top. But when you finally do, it is so easy to come down the other side. After that, I felt like I could make any film with any director, anywhere in the world.

She says that Wong Kar-wai is also similarly demanding.

Wong Kar-wai does not have a script fully prepared in advance. So this puts a lot of pressure on the actors on the set to improvise. Sometimes you don't know what the story is really about, sometimes you don't know exactly where in the story this particular scene falls, sometimes you don't even know who else will be in the scene until you arrive on the set. Of course, this also means that you can learn a lot about flexibility and imagination from working in this style.

She tells us a little about the film system in China, something we hear so much about of in terms of piracy.

...censorship is not just about saying yes or no to a film, it is a process whereby a film gets reviewed at several stages, including the script-before shooting-and the final cut. Often times censorship really means having to make a few changes, not a wholesale yes or no. In fact, nowadays, I am in support of the idea of instituting a ratings system for films, which we don't have currently...

...Of course another big problem in China is video piracy. You can buy cheap pirate DVDs everywhere, so even if a film is not allowed to be shown in theaters, people can often see it on pirate video. So it is important to find ways to do away with video piracy, and that would also help clarify what the film review system is doing.

To look at all of this from another angle, it is also important to improve education. With the big changes in economics and society in China, people's quality of life has improved, but things have changed so quickly that some new social problems are emerging. So it is important for education to keep up with these developments in order to improve the quality of people themselves.

Cinema is a good way for people to learn things and to reflect upon our contemporary society. If people learn to appreciate films in different ways, then it might also be possible to make different kinds of films. So I am quite happy that Curse of the Golden Flower has done so well in China, it makes me quite optimistic about the future.

One of her personal favourite films is revealed, and it should mark a good opportunity for a rental queue addition!

One of my personal favorites is The Story of Qiu Ju because it has such a natural, realistic style. Sometimes I didn't even know where the camera was, so I just played the scene in a natural, unselfconscious way.

That was a really indepth interview with Gong Li, and I'm really glad I took the time to read it. She comes across really well and says some very constructive things about the Chinese film system which often gets bashed for its harsh censorship.

Then there's that spectacular trailer, how can you not be salivating at the prospect of Curse of the Golden Flower?



The trailer is extremely misleading. There is not nearly as much action as portrayed. I felt the film was one of Yimou's worst outings. Not completely terrible, but not particularly good either. And I'm a huge Gong Li fan.

Here's my review if anyone cares to take a look.


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