Thursday, 1 November 2007

The Man Behind the Courtyard House (2011)

Chinese title: 守望者:罪恶迷途.

This film reminds me of NatGeo's Air Crash Investigation.

What I learnt from the program is that modern air planes are very safe. For example, a plane can still fly when it loses 1 or all of its engines. Or that it completely runs out of fuel. In fact, this scenario had occurred, and the pilots were able to land the plane with minimum casualties.

What usually brought about the crash is the result of a series of unforeseen, accidental events; some are technical, some are man-made. For example, the pilots take bad advice from ground control cruise after some technical malfunction, and this led to their eventual crash. This was an actual example of a crash.

This is what happens in the story, a series of unforeseen events occur, bad advice is given, and our main character takes those advice and is a step closer to the tragic end of his mass murder.

The story is told in increasingly regressive flashbacks. I.e. the story starts with the homicide, then previous flashbacks, one early than another are eventually unfolded.

This is like the air crash investigation. The air crash investigator arrives at the scene of the tragedy, (s)he wonders what happens by working backwards to an earlier and earlier times to piece together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. The audience is shown how in each successively earlier flashbacks, a decision was made by taking bad advice from other people, the main character is taking closer to his decision step by step until the final massacre of the whole family.

It also shows how in each of this flashback episode that how a totally innocent, or trivial decision would alter the course of events, and lead to a very different conclusion.

The Man Behind the Courtyard House (2011)A popular saying goes something like this, "To a handyman, all problems could be fixed with a hammer" (Ok, there may not an EXACT saying like this. But something along this line). Our central character in this movie may have taken this expression to heart. When he nails somebody, he puts a nail into their scalp with a hammer.

Here's a riddle. You enter a living room, you see a broken glass, and some water on the floor. Lies next to the puddle of water is Jane. Jane is dead. What happens?

Give up? Well, Jane is a fish. Don't know what I'm talking about? You will after you see the movie.

If you expect a slasher film because of the homicides, you will be sorely disappointed. All the killings are done out of sight. I guess this is to comply to the Beijing Film Bureau's heavy handed censorship. If you enjoy a movie with a philosophical musing, and a non-linear story structure, this may be your cup of tea.

The story is much better told in that 3-rewinds structure. It gives the audience 3 unique "Ah...I see", or eureka moments, which would be lost if told in a conventional way.

If this is this director's 1st movie (it seems so), I'm looking forward to his later works.

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