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About JustinJagoe

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  1. Sorry to get a little bit personal, but there's no way my vote on this one can't be personal. I think most of us have that one movie we watched as a kid or young adult that completely broke open our understanding of what movies can be. For me that movie was Crouching Tiger. I saw it as a teenage boy, after years of watching (superficially) teenage boy-friendly kick-ass action flicks like Star Wars, The Matrix, X-Men, and yes, Gladiator. While Crouching Tiger offered plenty by way kick-ass action, what really brought me in was the grace of the action, the lushness of the colors, thematic subtext, and braided love stories with a true ache at the core. Crouching Tiger is nothing less than the movie that made me fall in love with movies. There's no way it doesn't get my vote. As personal as my experience is, though, I don't know if it's all that unique. I saw Crouching Tiger in a packed theater at my local multiplex in the suburbs. For many, I bet it was the first non-American movie they'd seen in the theaters. (I know it was for me.) For Western moviegoers, it was likely their most accessible window into a culture -- or at least a culture's movie tastes -- from well beyond their own borders. At the very least the movie was a clearly personal gift from Ang Lee, a director perpetually eager to kick dirt on the line between East and West, a gift whose appeal transcends cultural and geographic barriers. But most of all, Crouching Tiger deserves to enter the Canon because it remains a masterpiece of lyrical storytelling and filmmaking. It gently yet pointedly interrogates notions of honor, tradition, skill, gender, and class*. The characters, their motivations, and the action sequences they partake in all advance these themes naturally. Certainly more so than Gladiator, a just-okay action flick with listless performances and an insight-free script. Crouching Tiger is undoubtedly the best film of 2000 and, in my humblest of opinions, one of the greatest films ever made. * Amy pointed out in the review how being belittled as a woman fuels Jade Fox as a villain, which is completely right. One thing I noticed on my rewatch is how class barriers fuel her anger in equal measure. Her resentment of Jen clearly begins when she learns her student has flourished beyond her teaching. It's later learned Jen -- an aristocrat -- is able to read the texts beyond the diagrams, a skill it's pretty safe to say had also been denied in Jade Fox's life. Jade Fox's villainy is as much a product of the society that shaped her as Li Mu Bai or Shu Lien's heroism. Her tragedy really hit me this time around.