August 20, 2003

Maggie Cheung Goodness

maggie.jpgCinecultist can go on and on about our recent favorite Asian actresses but there's really none like Maggie Cheung. She can make us laugh. She can make us cry. And she can make it look like she could knock us out with one hand tied behind her back. This woman's a powerhouse.

If you only know her from In the Mood For Love, we implore you to check out some of her other work. Here's our top five Maggie-liscious favorite performances:

1. Center Stage (aka the Actress) [1992]-- In this wonderful self-reflexive movie, Maggie and director Stanley Kwan reconstruct scenes from the life and performances of Chinese silent film star Ruan Lingyu. Intercut with footage of the original Ruan and interviews with her contemporaries, Maggie gives a delicate performance as the melancholy diva.

2. Song of Exile [1990] -- Director Ann Hui wrote this script partially based on her own experiences returning to Taiwan after studying abroad in England. A complex look at the complicated issues of migragation between the Mainland and the islands, Maggie plays a young woman trying to reconnect with her emotionally scarred mother. The kind of movie that will make you weep and reach for the phone just to tell your own Mommy you love her before it's over.

3. Irma Vep [1996] -- Playing "herself," Maggie arrives on the tumultous set of a French film cast as Irma Vep, the leader of the crime gang the Vampires. The director (played by French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Leaud) has become obsessed with Maggie after seeing her in the Heroic Trio but everyone else in the cast and crew is a little less convinced she can do the job. Maggie wears a latex cat suit, do you need more convincing? Yeow.

4. White Snake, Green Snake [1993] -- A Tsui Hark directed film (Once Upon A Time in China) where Maggie plays one of two snake spirit sisters who transforms into a woman. Based on a reworking of a classic Chinese fable, she's the Green Snake who battles priests, seduces men and does this amazing snake walk that left CC flabbergasted.

5. Comrades, Almost A Love Story [1996] -- A bittersweet melodrama about Mainland immigrants trying to make it in the urban bustle Hong Kong, this movie is When Harry Met Sally meets Far and Away only really really good. Silly Cinecultist got so caught up in this story, we actually thought sassy Maggie might not end up with the guy in the end. Another three Kleenex box movie with Maggie's luminous face as the central attraction.

Coming soon for this beauty queen turned serious actress and international sensation, a new collaboration with Wong Kar-Wai in a sci-fi flick called 2046, a winter release of Zhang Yimou's historical drama Hero already a huge hit in Asia, and another film with former husband Olivier Assayas. All of these movies (plus many more! except Song of Exile) are available on Netflix and MoMA will be screening Irma Vep as part of the Assayas retrospective next month (Sept. 21).

Posted by karen at August 20, 2003 11:54 PM