Tag Archives: 1990s Films

Recently Watched: Films: Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Quiz Show (1994) & Close-Up (1990)

I. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Chinese director Zhang Yimou tells in his film, which is based on the novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong, the story of a beautiful nineteen-year-old ex-university student Songlian (Gong Li) who decides to become a concubine in the 1920s China. After her decision, Songlian finds herself in the palace of “red lanterns” which has “four houses” for her husband’s four mistresses. She soon gets acquainted with the elderly and indifferent first Mistress, with the friendly and seemingly happy second Mistress and with the still young and beautiful, but jealous third Mistress. All is well, or is it? The palace’s strange, centuries-old traditions and customs first bewilder Songlian and then force her most shameful qualities out, as her husband randomly shifts the power between the four houses. Songlian soon finds herself in a miniature society and under the patriarchal dominance which she has never imagined to exist, with her husband employing arbitrary and complex policies of rewards and punishments to keep the mistresses in line. In this dangerous game, Songlian realises that she must learn to handle not only the three previous jealous Mistresses, but also her hostile maid Yan’er and the realisation of a lifetime imprisonment. Raise the Red Lantern is a psychologically-intriguing film about one oppressive world where the competition for power, hopelessness, despair and the weight of guilt all mingle as the palace changes people and makes them into forms it desires and the master has planned in advance. With the exquisitely beautiful cinematography (by Zgao Fei), Raise the Red Lantern is one of the most important films of the 1990s. 10/10  

Continue reading Recently Watched: Films: Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Quiz Show (1994) & Close-Up (1990)

“Kalifornia” Review

Kalifornia PosterKalifornia (1993)

Directed by Dominic Sena, “Kalifornia” centres on two couples and takes place on the road. On the one hand, we have an intelligent pair of up-and-coming journalists: Brian Kessler and Carrie Laughlin, played by David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, who are in the midst of an important Serial Killers book project and who are eager to reach the coast of California in the hope of a better life. On the other hand, we have two beaten-down-by-life vagabonds: Early Grayce and Adele Corners, played by Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, who are easily labelled as “white trash” in the film and who are accustomed to the life of crime and delinquency, wanting nothing more than a ride across the US at someone else’s expense. A chance meeting between the two pairs sets an unimaginable chain of events. 

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