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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blue Gate Crossing 藍色大門, Beautiful Taiwanese Film!

Blue Gate Crossing

"Maybe someday, a year later, or maybe three, if you start liking boys, you must tell me. Don't laugh, I'm serious."

I have chosen to rewrite my upcoming short film, RED BEAN SOUP (tentative title), due to the fact that I ceased to believe in it anymore, and had lost motivation to complete its previous incarnation (I wrote it in prose form in an attempt to overcome writer's block, an experiment that seemed to work initially, until it became unnecessarily tedious). The flawed characterization of my female protagonist prompted me to rethink the entire concept of my supposed romantic short. (Chewxy and Justin pointed out that she was too anime-ish, and not realistic nor deep enough)

I've started to write since yesterday using Final Draft, I screenwriting program I've never used before until last week. It was pretty insane how I managed to write my previous screenplays (for both VERTICAL DISTANCE and GIRL DISCONNECTED) with Microsoft Word!!!

Anyway, I accompanied my mom to the PALACE OF THE GOLDEN HORSES Hotel (a 5-star deluxe hotel) today for a press conference regarding a Buddhist event (which my mom, being a publisher of a Buddhist magazine, had to attend), and while she was away, I sat at the lounge, typing away on my laptop. Was making some nice progress, but still needed more inspiration to keep me going, especially because my short film was intended to be in Mandarin despite the fact that I'm writing my script in English. (Obviously, I'm much better at writing in English compared to Chinese, but you can find some Chinese blog entries I've posted sometime during the end of 2005 if you want to)

So I decided to watch BLUE GATE CROSSING 藍色大門, a 2002 Taiwanese film, on my laptop. Knowing full well that the film's in Mandarin, and is about high school romance, something similar to Japan's jun-ai (innocent love), but without the senseless tearjerking, and retaining something exclusively... Taiwanese (hard for me to explain this). Basically similar to what I intend to do with my own short, RED BEAN SOUP. I remembered reading about this film when I was at Shanghai earlier this year on a book that listed some of the greatest Asian contemporary romantic films. This film was listed with the likes of LOVE LETTER and MY SASSY GAL!

BLUE GATE CROSSING is a surprisingly good film, very good, actually. It's slight, but very affecting. Just a simple coming-of-age love triangle between three 17-year-old high school students (two girls and the one boy who comes between them).

Girlish Yueh-chen (Liang Shu-hui) has a major crush on schoolmate Zhang Shi-hao (Chen Bo-lin, who is so good in here that I forgive him for appearing in TWINS EFFECT 2), a member of the swimming club. So obsessed she is with him that she collects (or steals) his pen, homework, goggles, shoes, water bottles and other belongings. It's kinda creepy, but sad, since she also believes that by writing his name repeatedly on a notebook until the pen runs out of ink, he will love her in return.

Too shy to speak to Zhang, Yueh-chen sends her best buddy, tomboy and actual protagonist of the film, Meng Ke-rou (Guey Lun-mei) as an intermediary to collect information about her crush. Sometimes, Yueh-chen asks Meng wear a mask of Zhang's face so that Yueh can pretend that Meng is Zhang and slow dance with her. But anyway, Meng approaches Zhang, checks out on him, and he starts to fall crazily in love with Meng. But Meng is also confused with her own sexuality, since she believes that she's actually a lesbian who is in love with Yueh-chen, and that the only method to ensure that she's hetero is to kiss a man.

Sounds like a Hollywood rom-com, or something from a John Hughes 80s teenage film, but BLUE GATE CROSSING is actually more subtle and chaste. The cinematography is really beautiful, in fact, it's one of the most beautiful I've ever seen in such a movie, while the performances are natural and unforced. There aren't any big dramatic moments, nor manufactured emotional climax, yet various moments of the film linger.

The poetic ending is great, very quiet and elegant, look at the first video below. I have to admit that my eyes watered a little during Meng's final voiceover.

"Seeing your flying color shirt, I'm thinking, one year, three years, five years from now... what would we become? You're kind and cheerful, you'd be more handsome. And I can see... years from now... you're in front of a blue gate. , under the 3pm sun. You still have a few zits. You're smiling and I run to greet you. You nod. 3 or 5 years later, or even later, much later, what kind of grown-up would we be? PE teacher? Or mom? Though I can't see myself even with my eyes closed. I can see you."

The blue gate refers to their schoolgate, and the transition from teen to adulthood. Beautiful.

Anyway, highly recommended for anyone who can get their hands on it.

On the other hand, feast your eyes upon different video clips of this film.

The ending of Blue Gate Crossing

Music video of the title song 'A Little Step' performed by Cheer Chen. Nicely done, I like the song too.

A fan-made music video for Harada Ikuko's song, Kazeiro Natsukoi, using clips from this movie. Nice song, but the editing made the video feel a little slow

UPDATED (28th of June, 2011): RED BEAN SOUP, the film mentioned at the beginning of this blog post was never made. I ended up writing and directing a string of short films and producing a number of feature films that allowed me to travel to many film festivals. Funnily, and coincidentally, I then met lead actor Wilson Chen a bit more than 3 years after writing this post, at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2010. And lead actress Guey Lun Mei 4 years after this was posted, at the Shanghai International Film Festival 2011.