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Yimou matches the opulence with an operatic greek tragedy and extravagant action, something which will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it to work quite well.
What makes it work is Gong Li, doing what only great actors can do in taking a nothing role and turning it into the most important part of the movie.
The only character I feel bad for is the good nazi, but not enough to shed a tear. I wish Black Book would be as emotional as the sort of similar masterpiece, When The Wind Shakes The Barly.
And I'm the type that cries at every movie - whether it's a great emotional scene or a great happy scene or a great action scene. I'll bat for zhang yimou a bit here, I agree his approach in Golden Flower is not for everyone, but I dont think it's sloppy (apart from maybe the last 20 min when it gets a little out of control). Also, The Lives of Others is what I saw last week, borderling great film IMHO.....
I was going to automatically buy it, but it's a good thing my video store has the Spanish DVD to rent.
The only obscure movies that I really really love which could be considered too arty or too pretentious are The Holy Mountain (my most eagerly awaited DVD ever), Mathew Barney's Cremasters, and Von Tier's The Idiots...ya never know, I hated Todd Field's In the Bedroom, but I thought Little Children was a masterpiece.
Sure, Alatriste and Curse of the Golden Flower look good, but they are both sloppy films with poor storytelling. Second of all more often than not I select certain titles to review (that would include the extra ones i do, non-r1) simply because I already know that they are of exceptionally high-quality and would love to have forum members see them.
I think it actually might have played in USA theaters under the title Happily Ever After. El Metodo (2005 Spain - DVD Pal Spain) This movie was awesome - IMDB sums it up as "Perfect psychologically intense examination of the job application process ".
It's about a group of people that are at a corporate job interview, and they have to sort of fire each other using a psychological test called the Gronhold Method.
Outstanding performance by Melanie Laurent and a script that will likely be improved by Hollywood in a near future. I also disagree with your comments on Verhoven's Black Book which I thought was quite well done but I do not wish to engage in a pointless rebutal as the purpose of this thread is rather different. Sure, Alatriste and Curse of the Golden Flower look good, but they are both sloppy films with poor storytelling.
I think a lot of people got psyched after reading your Alatriste review, especially since it's a mainstream foreign movie which looks like an extremely rewatchable adventure movie epic, but many people have been disappointed or underwhelmed.