Sorry I've been mostly absent this weekend. The Film Experience (i.e. Nathaniel) is relocating to DC for a month starting tomorrow. This hopefully won't affect you as readers much but you never know. Between packing, shopping for trip and watching the Olympics I haven't had any time to think let alone write or see movies. The summer has been busy: I still haven't even seen Mamma Mia! and that opened weeks ago. Can you believe it? All that buildup to a new Streep Sings moment and no payoff for Natty.
But let's talk about the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics for a second.
I'm feeling eternally grateful to political activists and the inimitable Mia Farrow who succeeded in pressuring Steven Spielberg into backing out as the "artistic advisor". I know that people think Spielberg is the greatest film director on earth and [insert hyperbolic statement here] but to me Zhang Yimou, who did directing duties, is better at two things and they happen to be two things the Olympics can't do without: pageantry and spectacle. Plus, he's Chinese. Shouldn't Olympic Ceremonies always run to homegrown talent first? I doubt he needed advice from Spielberg.
Zhang Yimou's filmography includes Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, and Ju Dou so when it comes to a skilled way with eye candy, well, I rest my case. Yimou was pleased with the big night and why not. It was the best opening ceremony I've personally ever seen: that absurdly precise choreography of thousands, those vibrant storytelling colors, the elaborate but still human special effects and costumes, the incongruously calm brush strokes in the midst of chaos; It was just like Hero only less violent.
I'm sure it cost more to produce than three over budget Hollywood blockbusters put together.
Just about the only thing that wasn't perfect was the absence of Chinese movie stars. Did we really need what I presume was China's Liberace? Did we really need ...Sarah Brightman? (a useful question in many situations). I know the torch finale is an athletes-only kind of gig but couldn't they have let Gong Li or Tony Leung Chiu Wai do a lap with it or something before the big scrim-running finale?
Did you watch? Did you love?