Sunday, February 15, 2015

Somewhere Only We Know

Wow, I really should have saved that commentary for how the conventional romance - whether comedic or dramatic - was dead in Hollywood, at least compared to China, for this weekend, because I half-suspect that Chinese movies popped back up in Boston Common versus just Fenway this week was because there really was nothing else like this to play for Valentine's Day. That's kind of crazy, if you ask me, but I'm sure Universal will do pretty well by everyone else basically ceding the weekend to Fifty Shades. Just not sure what the other studios were thinking.

At least me and the other folks who were there for a 10:15pm show seemed to be having a good time. Kind of a long wait, but the live show I was at ran earlier than expected, and it was cold out. There was also one guy in the theater who got quite upset about some talking going on, yelling "quiet!" toward the end. Honestly, I couldn't recall noticing any talkers, but it made things weirdly tense afterward.

There were four trailers for Chinese-language movies before the feature, and I am curious to see how many will play Boston Common. I don't know if there is enough of an audience for these movies to get two screens outside of this particular circumstance, and I'd hate the two theaters splitting the audience make either think it's not worth doing.

You yi ge di fang zhi you wo men zhi dao (Somewhere Only We Know)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 13 February 2015 at the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

The movie listings this Valentine's Day are weird: The big studio release is Fifty Shades of Grey and in that spirit, my local theaters are pulling out prints of Secretary, bringing The Duke of Burgundy back for a few more shows, and even booking R100 in one particularly odd case. Nothing but kink, with the near-sole exception of Somewhere Only We Know, making its way across the Pacific just days after opening in China. It's a thoroughly sweet love story that wears its old-fashioned sappiness on its sleeve, and that, somehow, serves as the alternative to what's playing next door.

As it starts out, Jin Tian (Wang Likun) has been in Prague for about a month. She came after the grandmother who raised her died and her boyfriend broke up with her, and still feels out of sorts. Through friends Luo Ji (Juck Zhang) and Shan Shan (Re Yizha), she meets cellist Peng Ze-yang (Kris Wu Yifan), who has lived in Europe for years. They hit it off, and he helps her follow the clues in a letter sent to her grandmother back in 1979. After all, she's in Prague because grandmother Chen Lanxin (Xu Jinglei) spent time there after World War II, where she apparently became quite friendly with on Dr. Josef Novak (Gordon Alexander).

Prague is often used as a shooting location for films that take place in previous eras, and it's kind of interesting that, aside from one shot, director Xu Jinglei and cinematographer Mark Ping Bin-lee don't visually differentiate present-day Prague much from the post-war city. It marks the location as timeless, and in some cases Xu allows the two love stories to bump against each other, letting Tian and Lanxin be two young women finding love halfway around the world rather than emphasizing the generational aspect. Of course, it's also a beautiful, exotic location that Xu and Ping seem to get a great kick out of filming, even if the there is something just a bit odd about having nearly every major character in a movie set in central Europe be Chinese.

Full review at EFC.

No comments: