Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Supper (2012) New York Asian Film Festival 2013

From director Lu Cuan who made the amazing City of Life and Death comes The Last Supper the story of the Emperor Liu, who on his death bed hallucinates and relives his past as court intrigue goes on around him.

Based upon events that transpired during the Chu-Han Contention which bridged the Qin and Han Dynasties the film the film covers the legendary Feast at the Hong Gate and the Battle of Gaixia. (The subject was also the subject of the film White Vengeance). If you have no idea what that all means you'll be fine since while I did some research following seeing and reviewing White Vengeance I still don't completely understand it all. The details are not important, you simply have to be able to watch one man essentially win the world and lose his soul by double crossing everyone to get there.

More tone poem of a remembered life than straight forward narrative. We are adrift in the mind of Liu and at his mercy as to how he tells the story. Some things are real sometimes they are clearly fantastical. What we are seeing is not the whole truth but what he chooses to see and relive. Actually much of the film has a very strong emotional sense to it as we go through events with an unconscious or subconscious thread of feeling what Liu is feeling. Its this sense of emotion and feeling that draws us into the film and keeps us anchored even when the film's narrative is less than clear.

The film is a visual stunner. I don't think there is a film at NYAFF this year that looks quite this amazing.

Watching the film I was struck by two things, first much of the power of the film is in the visuals. They are the films arms and hands, grabbing you pulling the viewer in and then at some point turning us loose to free fall amongst the hovels, castles and crashing armies. They are also so carefully nuanced that I think it's possible to watch many sections of the film without dialog and still know what is going on.

The other thing I discovered is that I really have to see this film again on a BIG screen, not dinky multiplex size but big ass Walter Reade size. I really want to sit down in front and disappear into the film.

I am in many ways in awe of the film .

I should say that the cast is excellent. I should also probably go into more detail on the plot or the emotional thrust of the film,but to be perfectly honest I really can't find the words. The Last Supper is one of those films that's better to see than talk about. That's not a cop out, its simply a statement that I can't explain what the film is like until you see it.

A visual treasure and one of the must see films of the 2013 NYAFF.

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