Skip to main content

A Movie Recommendation

You may freely admit to giving recommendations of various types to other people, over the course of your life, without feeling too foolish about it. But why does it hardly ever work, whether the recommendations are for movies, books, or blind dates?

That's what pops to mind after watching a movie from the local library, "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman", directed by Ang Lee, who later directed "Sense and Sensibility" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."  "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" is what put his career on the map, I suppose.

But the movie isn't too well known or popular. There are reasons. The only audio choice on the DVD is spoken-Chinese with English subtitles. There is a lot of dialogue, so you have to read the subtitles fast.

From time to time I read movie reviews on Amazon/IMDB. Usually they aren't too helpful, and because there are so many of them, I usually give up. Sigh, that's an old problem in the information biz. Some blabber-mouths tell you too much, and ruin the ending for the prospective audience. Others rehash the plot in detail. (Why?)

It's easier to see what is wrong than to come up with a clear idea of what is right. Perhaps the most useful thing a review can do is to match the mood of a viewer with the movie, because only then will the viewer be receptive. 

There are people who tire of Hollywood movies: their cliches and predictability. Such people want a breath of fresh air. Maybe they are the kind of person who would be an excellent world-traveler, if the budget allowed it. But they might not want to watch a depressing, pseudo-intellectual movie made in Europe, and funded by the Ministry of Culture. For such people, "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" might be just the ticket.

The second best contribution that a review can make is to be convincing! Here, I'm afraid I've trapped the readers. Since I get (undeserved) credit for being anti-woman, a movie has to be something special if it gets me to recommend what is essentially a Taiwanese chick-flick. So the recommendation should count for something.


XXXXX said…
Very true. I have done this myself, recommend some book or movie that I became simply engrossed with, something that seemed to profess a deep truth or held a wonderful revelation, only to be met with a politeness which reflected appreciation that I wished to share such an important thing (to me) with this particular friend but which clearly indicated a flat response on their part.
Your last paragraph holds an interesting phrase....."Since I get (undeserved) credit for being anti-woman."
So you use the word "credit" rather than "blame" this a Freudian slip?
Just teasing.
Maybe it was a Freudian slip!
John V said…
Oh Boonie, Boonie, Boonie...what has become of you? Next thing you'll be renting "Like Chcolate for Water", eating bob bons, and wearing high heels!
XXXXX said…
I looked up the summary and realized I have seen this already. I'm not sure why you call it a chick flick. It seems to be more about the frailty of family life. Something that, to me, portrays a generation gap rather than a gender gap. The movie was made in 1994 and at that time we were already aware of how each decade brought dramatic social changes, so a generation gap was clearly evident and I believe the phrase was in use then as well. This was not so earlier in history as life remained much the same as the decades went by and children lived in the same world as their parents. One of the reasons why now the elderly are not looked upon as wise any longer for the world they lived in, the one they developed their wisdom about, no longer exists and so their advice has a relevancy problem.
I do think that we often show our deepest caring in a symbolic way, such as in the movie, for the father showed his love through cooking. There is a point where words fail us and the places where we care the deepest is one of those times. The father was surprised by what his daughters had been up to. He didn't have a clue. I think mothers of that time went through the same experience.
Why did you recommend this movie?
I recommended the movie because it is refreshing to take a break from Hollywood movies, every now and then.
edlfrey said…
" I'm not sure why you call it a chick flick."
I had to find out since I have not been in a movie theater for decades and have not watched a movie on TV for many years and never as a DVD.
This is what Wikipedia says a Chick-flick is.
Chick-flick is a slang term for a film genre mainly dealing with love and romance and designed to appeal to a largely female target audience. Although many types of films may be directed toward the female gender, "chick-flick" is typically used only in reference to films that are heavy with emotion or contain themes that are relationship-based (although not necessarily romantic as many other themes may be present).
The plot as explained on Wikipedia.
Each Sunday Mr. Chu makes a glorious banquet for his daughters, but the dinner table is also the family forum, or perhaps “torture chamber,” to which each daughter brings “announcements” as they negotiate the transition from traditional “father knows best” style to a new tradition which encompasses old values in new forms.
As the film progresses, each daughter encounters new men. When these new relationships blossom, their roles are broken and the living situation within the family changes. The father eventually brings the greatest surprise to the audience at the end of the story.

My guess is that this film plot is based on relationships and emotions which would probably appeal to females more so than males so the chick-flick designation may be applied. However, if Boonie had wanted to be more sensitive and politically correct perhaps he could have just referred to it as a foreign film.
That movie has been on my list of ones to watch for awhile. I find it difficult to read the subtitles, but perhaps I'll give it a go.

I recommend "The Sweet Hereafter" from 1997. It is a compelling story about a tragic accident in a small town. The town is blessed with a few wise and loving souls.
It will be a cold day in Hell before I become sensitive and PC! grin.
XXXXX said…
Interesting thoughts, Ed. I thank you for your interest and research. One must be careful though to not end up in a box. By that I mean that family is the basic structure of any culture or society. And from this idea of family and how it ought to be comes many political viewpoints. To say that this is purely the domain of the feminine viewpoint is what I mean by thinking in a box. Many sociologists, psychologists, etc. are men and certainly they are very interested in this aspect of culture and society in all its manifestations.
I think it is a bit of downgrading the intelligence of men to imply that relationships and emotions are of less interest to them than women. I agree with your research on the meaning of "chick flick" but think it was probably born from a narrow-mindedness and grew from there. There is no shortage of narrow-mindedness, you know.
What the film portrays about changing family structure is true in the US but what is interesting to think about is how this same dynamic is affecting other countries as well, especially the ones considered more traditional, those having less freedom to evolve, etc. as ours does. It is a very interesting movie. Boonie is quite right about that.
XXXXX said…
A bit of an afterthought.....when I think of the relationship/emotional component of a "chick flick", it would be on the level of an Elvis Presley flick.....boy wants girl, boy gets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back and they live happily ever after. The movie offers nothing else.
In the movie we are discussing, the relationships are used for the purpose of supporting a much larger theme. This movie was nominated for best foreign pic. That isn't going to happen for an Elvis Presley flick.
One of my personal favorites is The Bagdad Cafe. No plot at all - just a simple story about humans and how we affect each other (and I hate anything to do with chick-flicks or romance novels).

But I can't read so no flicks with subtitles for me. But it doesn't matter, as I usually don't have any way to watch movies anyway.
Yes I am a convert to the Bagdad Cafe. Somebody else told me about it. I had to watch it twice to start liking it. But maybe that is a good thing.
XXXXX said…
"Man on the Train" is a great movie. Originally made in France. That's the version I have seen but now I see it has an American version and that one is on its way from the library. A story of male friendship between two very unlikely prospects. My curiosity has been peaked by Boonie's comment about foreign films being a refreshing change. It should be interesting to see the American version of the same film.
I've heard of people who watch it many times. I've seen it 3.

Haunting music, disfunctional people, and the desert - my three favorite things. :)