On…. Magic Kitchen (Or How I Learned How To Stop Collecting And Love Asian Cinema)

This isn’t going to be a normal review, so a little explanation is in order.  I have been toying for a little while with writing a few articles to supplement the reviews and capsules.  I have a couple in the pipeline, and well, I hope my readership enjoys these more rambling posts.  They will be tagged with “On….”, and I hope they may be a semi-regular occurrence.

As I have mentioned a couple of times before, five or so years ago, I was heavily into buying just about every film I had recommended to me.  It started with J-Horror, but started to spill over into other genres.  Interestingly, there were very few films from Hong Kong, but for some reason I ordered this film.  I had no idea what it was to be honest, but it came in a lovely big Hardback Package, with silly things like fridge magnets and an apron.  But when it arrived, I realised that things had gone too far.  This particular DVD had acted as a catalyst that made me realise my addiction.  It wasn’t the films I was after, it was the ownership.  So the film went unwatched all this time.  The DVD then got lost, found in a garage clear-out, and eventually sat on my bookshelf. 

Two and a half years ago I met my best friend, and she managed to re-spark my interest in Asian Cinema.  Giving me a different focus, and a different context, widening my horizons, and basically inspiring me to write this little blog.  She continues to act in this role to this day, and for anyone that does enjoy my meandering musings, spend a moment to thank her for the inspiration.

I digress.  I reached a point a couple of weeks ago, that I realised I had to get this monkey off my back, and decided to pop in into the DVD player and see what it was that had affected my life so.

Magic Kitchen” is the story of a talented yet uninspired Chef, and her struggles in love both letting go of the old and embracing the new.  We also follow the romantic-ish journeys of a couple of her friends, all against the background of her entering an Iron-Chef style TV show in Japan.

It’s ok.  This was my first exposure to Sammi Cheng, who apparently was once the queen of Hong Kong cinema (although, yes she was in “Infernal Affairs”),  and she is a charming and funny actress.  The problem is that the whole film comes across as a Sex In The City-lite, populated on the whole by very narcissistic individuals that it is hard to care for.  The highlight for me was recognising so many faces from the Hong Kong films I have seen in the last couple of years – something which would have totally passed me by when I originally bought the film.  It is occasionally amusing, but little more.

And I guess this is where I make my point.  This love of Asian Cinema is now more than a quest to own DVDs, or see the latest Cult blockbuster.  Now I yearn to understand, to connect the dots, to see the bigger picture.  To see this film and suddenly get a smile because I recognised a quite unusual Anthony Wong cameo, or because I thought Sammi Cheng looks like Miriam Yeung – and to then discover that Miriam is called the “new” Sammi, well these are little things that show me how much I have changed.  In a good way.

So whilst “Magic Kitchen” will probably never be watched again by me, and if it gets lost again, I doubt I will even notice, it will always be an important bridging point for me.  Its the Asian film where my recent past links to my present.

And that I think is the point of my blog.  It’s about my interaction with a different world.  It isn’t necessarily about film A being better than film B.  It is about how the film affects me.  That’s why I don’t tend to give films a specific rating.  Sure, a great performance, or brilliant direction will never go unrecognised.  But if one scene can capture a moment, can talk to me in a special way, then that is worthwhile.

No, not worthwhile.  Much more than that.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nekoneko says:

    I do understand your feeling that your Blog wants to “widen” itself…

    Mine started pretty much as yours did, as my own lil' chance to gush about the crazy films I collect. Like you, many of my Asian ones were horror films, but eventually I branched into Martial Arts, anime, comedies, and love stories too… (even if most of my purchases still do lean towards the scary films…)

    Eventually my own Blog even became a sort of online diary…. It's amazing the things you end up wanting to share with relative strangers…

    For what it's worth… I'm liking what I read here and it's nice to find common reactions in a fellow film fan. Keep it up!


  2. ElPeevio says:

    Hey Nekoneko.

    Thankyou for the kind comments – it means a lot that people are actually reading the silly little things I am saying, and maybe having some kind of connection with them.

    The funny thing is, it took me a long time to work out what I wanted this blog to be – a lot of the personal diary stuff have gone by the wayside, as I really don't want to mix my real life with any kind of online personna.

    Saying that, it is clear at times from the films and shows I look at, and my comments and reactions to them, exactly what my emotional state is! 😉

    I have experimented a little in the past, with some different ways of doing the reviews, and with the themed Ha Ji-won week, all of which I found to be interesting experiments, but I just don't have the time to explore these ideas further. I am hoping that semi-occasional “On….” posts might help me flex a different kind of creative muscle.

    More importantly though – did you watch “Bedevilled”? I am very curious about your opinion.


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