Running Out of Karma: A Moment of Romance III

Running Out of Karma is my on-going series on Johnnie To, Hong Kong and
Chinese-language cinema. Here is an index.

For his final film before launching the Milkyway Image studio, Johnnie To took a super-generic script, applied a Steven Spielberg visual aesthetic, and almost made an FW Murnau movie out of it. A rarity for To, a period film, a romance set during the second World War, with Andy Lau as a pilot who crash lands in a remote village and is nursed back to health by Jacklyn Wu (these two stars are the only connection to the other A Moment of Romance films: in Hong Kong, spiritual sequels can be numbered as actual sequels, they need not be in any other way related). They fall in love and when he returns to the war effort, she follows him to the big city, splitting the film neatly into country/city halves like Crocodile Dundee.

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1990 Endy Awards

These are the 1990 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .
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A Brief Impression of The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993)

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Rewatch confirms what I’ve suspected for awhile: this is Martin Scorsese’s very best movie . . . poor Newland Archer, always thinking he’s the smartest person in the room when in fact he’s the dumbest . . . and what rooms, those sweeping tracking shots, rooms cluttered with objects, the conspicuous wealth of the 1870s, generated on the backs of the wholly absent poor . . . a world of unimaginable riches and power, so seductive, its occupants entirely unaware of its exceptionality: a simple matter of fact that their universe is the way it is because they are destined to lead it, their system of unexpressed rules governing their every motion . . . Archer thinks he understands it, and looks down upon those he doesn’t understand, those poor simple women who lack his self-awareness, his understanding of the ritual . . . his late realizations that not only is he caught in a web of conspiracy, that his darkest secrets are public knowledge and, ultimately, that his apparently vacant wife his a far more deft manipulator of the levers of power than he could ever hope to be . . . Archer ultimately refuses freedom, he’s old-fashioned, preferring to live in his constructed reality (ala Shutter Island or Solaris), lacking the imagination to step outside the social order imposed upon him . . . Day-Lewis and Ryder are brilliant of course: he taking a character that should be insufferable and making him a tragic hero, a foolish, arrogant prig who fails in every pathetic scheme, yet is ultimately almost admirable in his refusal to be anything other than what he is; she hiding May’s depths behind bright eyes and a sunny smile, never cracking but always twisting the knife, bending the world with a will far stronger than Archer can imagine . . . Pfeiffer might be a weak link, saying her lines as if she’s always out of breath, but perhaps that’s just the way Archer sees the Countess, her eyes betray a steeliness and wry arrogance that belies Archer’s view of her as the embodiment of his desires for sex and freedom . . . in a film so much about the unspoken rules and systems that underlie an excess of conversation, actors that play on multiple levels are essential, and no actors contains more multitudes than Daniel Day-Lewis . . . Scorsese captures it all of course, the beauty (that shot of the light house on the shore!), the isolation (that cube mansion in the middle of an undeveloped Manhattan) and the seductive power of the objects that surround them, the food, the cutlery, the hands of stone, such a luscious prison . . . and the dissolves, oh wow, the dissolves . . .

1993 Endy Awards

These are the 1993 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Dazed and Confused
3. Iron Monkey
4. The Puppetmaster
5. Three Colors: Blue

Best Director:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence
2. Richard Linklater, Dazed and Confused
3. Tsui Hark, Green Snake
4. Hou Hsiao-hsien, The Puppetmaster
5. Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors: Blue

Linklater’s chronicle of the last day of school/first night of summer of a bygone era grows as it recedes in the memory. 20 years ago it was a goofy bit of comic nostalgia, an excuse to laugh at 70s fashions and the importance of Aerosmith. But the older I get, the better it gets. But I just recently watched The Age of Innocence again, and it’s now my favorite Martin Scorsese movie and I’m giving it the Endy here. This is Scorsese’s first directing nomination, but surely not his last. It’s Hou’s sixth nomination.

Best Actor:

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, The Age of Innocence
2. Bill Murray, Groundhog Day
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Action Hero
4. Anthony Hopkins, Shadowlands
5. Jet Li, The Tai Chi Master

Best Actress:

1. Brigitte Lin, The East is Red
2. Maggie Cheung, Green Snake
3. Holly Hunter, The Piano
4. Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Juliette Binoche, Three Colors: Blue

This is Murray’s fourth nomination (third in Best Actor) and his first win. Binoche won previously in 2007 and 2010. This is Cheung’s fifth nomination (fourth in Best Actress) with no wins as yet.

Supporting Actor:

1. John Goodman, Matinee
2. Larenz Tate, Menace II Society
3. Li Tien-lu, The Puppetmaster
4. Will Smith, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Val Kilmer, Tombstone

Also receiving votes: Harvey Keitel (The Piano), Tony Leung Ka-fai (He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Father), Dennis Hopper (True Romance), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), Sean Penn (Carlito’s Way), Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), and Kevin Costner (A Perfect World). This is the best selection of Supporting Actors I’ve seen in the course of handing out the Endys. Of course I’m giving the award to the guy who’s playing himself.

Supporting Actress:

1. Christina Ricci, Addams Family Values
2. Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence
3. Josephine Siao, Fong Sai-yuk
4. Joey Wang, Green Snake
5. Emma Thompson, Much Ado About Nothing

The Supporting Actress group this year is not as good, but still has a pair of all-time great performances. Josephine Siao, with the best supporting performance in a kung fu comedy ever, just edges out Ryder’s career-best performance.

Original Screenplay:

1. Richard Linlater, Dazed and Confused
2. Danny Rubin & Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day
3. Jane Campion, The Piano
4. Chu Tien-wen & Wu Nien-jen, The Puppetmaster
5. Krzysztof Kieślowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Three Colors: Blue

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence
2. Lillian Lee & Tsui Hark, Green Snake
3. Steven Zaillian, Searching for Bobby Fischer
4. John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Robert Altman & Frank Barhydt, Short Cuts

Non-English Language Film:

1. Green Snake (Tsui Hark)
2. Iron Monkey (Yuen Woo-ping)
3. Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano)
4. The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
5. Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieślowski)

Three Colors: Blue was the first art film I ever saw that made me want to watch and rewatch it until I took it all in and felt I really understood what was happening and why. As such, it’s probably overrated in my memory. I can’t tell and I don’t care: these are my fake movie awards.

Non-Fiction Film:

1. Latcho Drom (Tony Gatlif)
2. The War Room (Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker)

Animated Film:

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick)
2. Ninja Scroll (Yoshiaki Kawajiri)

Unseen Film:

1. Blue (Derek Jarman)
2. The Blue Kite (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
3. Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige)
4. Naked (Mike Leigh)
5. 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard)

Also receiving votes: Stalingrad (Joseph Vilsmaier), Madadayo (Akira Kurosawa), Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley), The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung), Smoking/No Smoking (Alain Resnais), Caro diario (Nanni Moretti), Fearless (Peter Weir), and M. Butterfly (David Cronenberg).
ironmonkey_poster

Film Editing:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Dazed and Confused
3. The Piano
4. The Puppetmaster
5. Three Colors: Blue

Those dissolves.

Cinematography:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Green Snake
3. The Piano
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Art Direction:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Green Snake
3. Matinee
4. The Piano
5. The Puppetmaster

Costume Design:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. The Eagle Shooting Heroes
3. Green Snake
4. The Heroic Trio
5. Matinee

Mant vs. Maggie Cheung. Mant wins.

Make-up:

1. Army of Darkness
2. The Bride with White Hair
3. The Eagle-Shooting Heroes
4. Executioners
5. Matinee

Original Score:

1. Jurassic Park
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
3. The Piano
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Adapted Score:

1. Coneheads
2. Dazed and Confused
3. Judgement Night
4. Matinee
5. True Romance

Sound:

1. Jurassic Park
2. The Piano
3. The Puppetmaster
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Sound Editing:

1. Gettysburg
2. Jurassic Park
3. The Last Action Hero
4. Schindler’s List
5. True Romance

Visual Effects:

1. Army of Darkness
2. Green Snake
3. Jurassic Park
4. Kung Fu Cult Master
5. Matinee

1995 Endy Awards

These are the 1995 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Ballet
2. Dead Man
3. Fallen Angels
4. Good Men, Good Women
5. Whisper of the Heart

Best Director:

1. Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man
2. Wong Kar-wai, Fallen Angels
3. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Good Men, Good Women
4. Tsui Hark, Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Yoshifumi Kondō, Whisper of the Heart

Very close race for the top prize this year, as Good Men, Good Women might be Hou Hsiao-hsien’s best movie. But Dead Man is simply one of my all-time favorite films. We discussed it way back on Episode 2 of The George Sanders Show.

Best Actor:

1. Johnny Depp, Dead Man
2. Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fallen Angels
3. Robert DeNiro, Heat
4. Colin Firth, Pride & Prejudice
5. Morgan Freeman, Se7en

This is DeNiro’s first Endy nomination, but I suspect it won’t be his last. Depp previously won for 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Firth’s performance is deservedly considered definitive. For those who say it a performance in a TV miniseries and not a film, I say “Pffffbbbbtt.”

Also receiving votes: Ralph Fiennes (Strange Days), Leslie Cheung (The Chinese Feast), Denzel Washington (Devil in a Blue Dress and Crimson Tide), Ian McKellen (Richard III), Stephen Chow (A Chinese Odyssey), Chris Farley (Tommy Boy) and Lau Ching-wan (Loving You).

Best Actress:

1. Alicia Silverstone, Clueless
2. Annie Shizuka Inoh, Good Men, Good Women
3. Parker Posey, Party Girl
4. Jennifer Ehle, Pride & Prejudice
5. Nicole Kidman, To Die For

Also receiving votes: Julienne Moore (Safe), Charlie Yeung (Love in the Time of Twilight), Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility), Lili Taylor (The Addiction), Catherine Keener (Living in Oblivion), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Georgia), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas).

Supporting Actor:

1. Kenny Bee, The Chinese Feast
2. Gary Farmer, Dead Man
3. Don Cheadle, Devil in a Blue Dress
4. Chris Eigeman, Kicking and Screaming
5. Ciarán Hinds, Persuasion

Supporting Actress:

1. Christine Taylor, The Brady Bunch Movie
2. Charlie Yeung, Fallen Angels
3. Chloë Sevigny, Kids
4. Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite
5. Gina Gershon, Showgirls

Farmer is an obvious pick, of course. In Supporting Actress, this is one of the rare times when the Oscars and I agree on an acting winner. Sorvino really is quite wonderful, it’s a shame she never got another role half this good again.

Original Screenplay:

1. Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man
2. Wong Kar-wai, Fallen Angels
3. Noah Baumbach, Kicking and Screaming
4. Tsui Hark & Sharon Hui, Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Daisy von Scherler Meyer & Harry Birckmeyer, Party Girl

If the screenplay consisted of nothing other than “Stupid fucking white man” it’d probably still win the Endy.

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Amy Heckerling, Clueless
2. Chu Tien-wen, Good Men, Good Women
3. Andrew Davies, Pride & Prejudice
4. Emma Thompson, Sense & Sensibility
5. Hayao Miyazaki, Whisper of the Heart

That’s right: three Jane Austen adaptations. There’s a fourth that just missed a nomination as well. There was something in the air in 1995. But the Endy goes to Chu Tien-wen, who previously won in 1997 for Flowers of Shanghai.

Non-English Language Film:

1. The Blade (Tsui Hark)
2. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-wai)
3. Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
4. Love in the Time of Twilight (Tsui Hark)
5. Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō)

Just missing is Pedro Costa’s Casa de Lava, which also just missed out in Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

Documentary Film:

1. Ballet (Frederick Wiseman)
2. The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
3. Unzipped (Douglas Keeve)

This is Wiseman’s second win and eighth nomination. He won in 2014 for National Gallery.

Animated Film:

1. Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)
2. Toy Story (John Lasseter)

Unseen Film:

1. La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol)
2. Love Letter (Shunji Iwai)
3. Mabarosi (Koreeda Hirokazu)
4. Underground (Emir Kusturica)
5. The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi)

Also receiving votes: Ulysses’s Gaze (Theo Angelopolous), La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz), Cyclo (Tran Anh Hung), The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodóvar), and Village of the Damned (John Carpenter).

Film Editing:

1. The Blade
2. Dead Man
3. Fallen Angels
4. Good Men, Good Women
5. Heat

Tsui Hark reaches the apotheosis of the fast-cutting action movie, a full decade before Hollywood begins to (badly) imitate the style.

Cinematography:

1. The Blade
2. Casa de Lava
3. Dead Man
4. Fallen Angels
5. Good Men, Good Women

What can I say? I’m a sucker for fish-eyes.

Also receiving votes: Seven, Dead Presidents, Strange Days, City of Lost Children, Heat, Nixon, Shanghai Triad, Ballet, Sense and Sensibility.

Art Direction:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. City of Lost Children
4. Dead Man
5. Pride & Prejudice

Costume Design:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. A Chinese Odyssey
4. Dead Man
5. Sense & Sensibility

Everything Sharon Stone wears.

Make-up:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. City of Lost Children
4. A Chinese Odyssey
5. Species

Original Score:

1. City of Lost Children
2. Dead Man
3. Friday
4. Toy Story
5. Whisper of the Heart

Adapted Score:

1. Clueless
2. Dead Presidents
3. Devil in a Blue Dress
4. Kicking and Screaming
5. Kids

If it was “Adapted Song” this would easily go to Whisper of the Heart, as it is, “Country Roads” is almost enough to get it nominated in both categories.

Sound:

1. Casino
2. Dead Man
3. Good Men, Good Women
4. Heat
5. Seven

That telephone ringing.

Sound Editing:

1. The Blade
2. Braveheart
3. Crimson Tide
4. GoldenEye
5. Heat

Visual Effects:

1. Apollo 13
2. Babe
3. A Chinese Odyssey
4. Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Species

That’ll do, pig.