Monday, April 16, 2001

Aging Kitty Burned Out Bureaucrat

"A faithful heart makes wishes come true..."
-Michelle Yeeowww!

News Flash: Love may be able to save your heart and soul but it can't save your life or colon.

On Good Friday the 13th I had a rare day off where I had no obligations, no responsibilities, no places to be, no faces to see, other than doing my taxes. Have any of you tried eFiling? Man I would highly recommend it! Filling out forms online and getting your return done in a matter of an hour of your precious life and getting funds sent electronically, what could be sweeter? Even the oh so attractive Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Revenue, my mentor and former boss Jenny Engh did it this year!

So for dinner on my day off I microwaved the previous day's lunch, the tasty Pad Thai from Ruam Mit, and as I was pulling my steaming dish from my oven I noticed an ant walking along the peripheral edge of the stove. It had survived three minutes of non-explosive nuking and I wondered if soon there would be a mutant insect a foot long wandering the hallways of my home. This wasn't some nuclear surviving cockroach after all.

On my day off I paid extra special attention to my roommate the rapidly aging Mr. Max. I've noticed the past few months he isn't so sure nor confident in his jumps. Years back I set up his cat tree in front of his favorite viewing window. It's a three foot jump up for him that has never been a question. But I've noticed more and more a bellow before the jump (often in the wee small hours of the morning) and a hesitancy to leap before crashing into the closed window. So I finally had the chance to really watch him and sure enough he hesitated before taking the plunge. So I thought I would do him a favor and move an object (searched for and considered about)- his carrier that he can only associate to my leaving or his trips to the veterinarian next to the cat tree to enable him to leap a less distance. Max of course got somewhat worked up at this unexpected change. He clung to me like a pair of alleged inappropriate birthday underwear as we watched the Twins win and thought about Mom as the trivia question answer had to do with poor hitting Dean Chance.

Afterwards I slid in my American rare DVD copy of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon into my computer. I've been meaning to re-watch it after having acquired such a unique treasure last month from somewhere in Asia but just haven't had the time for a second viewing of a movie that touched me the first time around like few others. The second time reminded me strongly of my desire to want to like the Academy Award winner of the early 1960's West Side Story all the more. That movie had such great music, such a universal story message (the value of romantic love over one's unaccepting upbringing) that I ended up liking it despite it's melodramatic shortcomings.

I realize having seen none of the other nominees for this year's Best Picture that I'm not qualified to make a judgment of how the Oscars turned out. I know that Traffic had a more pressing and important message to deliver; Gladiator was more epic and had a more accessible appeal (no subtitles for Pete's sake!); and Erin Brockovich had spunk and cleavage; but I do know no film from last year had greater artistic integrity than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When we reach that apocalyptic day and all things have to be gauged on their individual merits, I know deep in my heart that none of those other movies can even begin to measure up to Ang Lee's masterpiece.

The movie delivers an important moral memoradum in a profoundly perfect technological and cinematic way. The fight scenes are heavenly ballet and poetry in motion, and though you know there are wires and hidden editing trickery involved nonetheless you sit there with your mouth agape totally able to put aside any inherent and ever creeping cynicism that may exist. It's a magical movie that has a timeless saga.

I used to have this dream as a kid when I was running full speed (away/toward something) where I would be able to achieve such a speed that I was able to take flight. I remember that feeling of floating tempered with my logical disbelieving side that lamentably kept reminding me this was only a dream that I couldn't really fly. But the dream was so real and Crouching Tiger recaptured that same spirit in such an effective way that I was transferred thankfully back to another place, another time.

The three main leads, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Zi Yi, are perfect for what they are expected to do. Zi Yi's character Jen, the emotional centerpiece of the movie is exquisitely beautiful in conveying the conflict of loyalty for a friendship against the discord of doing what one is expected to do by tradition. It's a nakedly ostentatious distinctive performance, courageously true to the heart.

The movie begins so serenely and so quietly that when the first fight scene arrives 15 minutes into things it truly leaves one totally stunned. As Yeoh and Zi Yi race and romp across the rooftops the effect is one of total brilliance. The viewer lets go and can only sit back and watch the cinematic wonder of all that is to follow.

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