Other than that, not much to tell you about this week. But here are opportunities to see two very different views of China.
A- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, United Artists Berkeley, Thursday, 8:00. Ang Lee and James Schamus turn the period kung fu epic into a character study of warriors who must choose between love and duty. The action scenes are among the most amazing ever filmed—complete with the gravity-denying leaps found only in Hong Kong cinema—but with a very human story at its core.
B- The Toll of the Sea, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. Anna May Wong received one of her few starring roles in this blatant rip-off of Madame Butterfly (set in China rather than the original’s Japan). But the real star is the very early two-color Technicolor process. A pretty good weepie lifted into special interest by Ms. Wong’s beauty and talent, and its value as an excellent record of a now-dead color process. The print is from a UCLA restoration made from the original negative (rare for a silent film). However, the last reel of The Toll of the Sea is missing, and the story filled in through new footage and title cards. Piano accompaniment by Frederick Hodges.
F Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Red Vic, Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, how Terry Gilliam has fallen! Monty Python’s token Yank made three of the best movies of the 1980’s, then his career collapsed and took his talent with it. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas reeks; a confused, ugly, and meaningless exercise–which would be forgivable, if it also wasn’t boring and witless.