I have a tendency to watch movies in pairs. Not just two movies at a time, but two specific and unrelated movies. If I watch one, I am compelled to watch the other.
Jesus Christ Superstar & Hair
The Mission & Room with a View
The Turning Point & The Turning Point (Baryshnikov always deserves a second viewing)
This weekend’s pairing was Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Taiwan) and Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico). I adore both of these movies, and always watch them in tandem. I’d like to say something pithy about their commonalities, such as the challenges facing single parents raising strong-willed daughters, and the struggle between progress v. family tradition. But it’s really just about the food. If you’ve never seen Like Water for Chocolate, you’ll never look at your ol’ Quail with Rose Petal Sauce recipe the same way again – trust me. And don’t even get me started on Chinese dumplings!
But those are just two in my favorite foreign trifecta. The third movie is The Scent of Green Papaya (France/Vietnam), which has become one of my favorite foreign movies of all time. The story is simple and almost irrelevant. A young girl is sent away from home to serve a wealthy family/Life happens/The end. But the film is lush and fragrant, sensual and ethereal, slow and nearly silent. Watching this movie is like standing in a quiet museum and getting lost in a beautiful painting. Divine.
That’s 4 – count them, FOUR – movies in 2 weeks. I have now exceeded my annual movie-viewing quota by 3. But as with everything else in my life, once I get my proverbial claws into something, I’ll keep on it until I burn out. Next on my list is Norwegian Wood (Japan), which was not only directed by Tran Ahn Hung who also directed The Scent of Green Papaya, but it’s also based on a book by one of my favorite writers, Haruki Murakami. I have high expectations and hope it warrants its own pairing for future viewings. Perhaps Green Papaya will have a worthy mate.
EDIT: I forgot I’d watched Bread and Tulips (Italy) last weekend, and one more that I’ve already forgotten. That makes SIX movies in 2 weeks. That may just be a new record!