Center Of The World

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick Sun, Jul 5, 2002.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    This could have been a better film, but as it is, it's like a snapshot of dotcom bull ride in 1999-2000 in terms of how a rich dotcommer falls in love with a stripper and convinces her to go to Las Vegas with him for a weekend.

    Where the film fails is in crafting characters that you become empathetic towards while the film unfolds. They mainly remain iconic in their place in the film, and you never get a sense of either one progressing, perhaps even regressing a bit by the end of the film. But it's sort of interesting from the standpoint of how power in their relationship shifts moment to moment (money for sex, sex for money).

    Molly Parker is an actress to watch, she's mesmerizing. Peter Sarsgaard is the rich, but out of touch, dotcommer who falls in love with the stripper played by Molly.

    But, one of the main reasons to at least rent this film (if you can handle the unrated "Pretty Woman" aspect of the film) is for the commentary of this film by the direction Wayne Wang (who directed "The Joy Luck Club" and "Anywhere But Here"), and the post production wizard who gave the film its "look" (I forget his last name, but his first name is "Patrick").

    I didn't realize how experimental this film was in the technical aspects of shooting the film. This is due to the film shoot totally on Betacam, or mini-DV cam, which allowed for very intimate film-making (much smaller cameras than the standard film cameras) and thus less intrusive, allowing the actors to be less aware of the cameras and more into the scenes. Anyhow, in post-production, you can do some nifty things in the digital realm that would be too costly to do with film (bleaching out scenes, color correcting, emphasizing and de-emphasizing colors), but the digital cameras require a new attitude to shoot with, and they come with their own quirks that need to be thought out before shooting scenes (like trying to maintain lighting continuity from different cameras for the same scene with shade and lighting challenges). Once the digital film was processed in post production, then it got converted over to film. All in all, pretty neat commentary on the film-making aspects using new digital camera technology. There's very short, incisive commentary on the film's story, but Wang does give you his take, but leaves it for the viewer to come to their own conclusions (though I do side with Wang's interpretation on how the ending plays out).

    (I was rather conflicted as to where to place this post, either in the Movies area, or the software area, but I think it belongs in the Movies area if anyone else wants to discuss the story or the way it was filmed.)
     
  2. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    It's been some time since I've seen The Center of the World but I would agree that it had potential to be a whole lot more than it was. The characters were interesting but the two leads really lacked for anything to do beyond having predetermined sex at certain times. Then you throw in the confusing addition of Carla Gugino and the whole thing starts to swerve out of control. But, it wasn't major enough to derail it...only dampen the movie overall. I thought it ended well, though. No cutesy ribbon and bow ending. No real evidence of what might happen. Just a lead-out about two people that got together, fulfilled a deal and parted ways. Overall, the detail of the film was very good and the dialogue, while seemingly simple and unglorified, worked really well.
    A good film but really had a chance to be a great one.
    Bruce
     
  3. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Here's what I had to say about it back in February in the 2001 films list thread.

     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I'll never look at ice cubes the same way ever again. [​IMG]
     
  5. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Or lollipops[​IMG]
     
  6. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    Thanks for bringing to the forefront of consciousness - as I try to support asian filmmaking, I'll keep an eye out for this title as a rental.

    I'm surprised by this movie, but in a different way. Earlier on, I was keen on Wang's work as a result of Smoke and Joy Luck Club. I even liked Slamdance.

    So I've been especially perplexed, in the context of the critical acclaim and BO success of Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, and John Woo, why Wang has not emerged as more of a hit based on his film anthology and the actors that clamor to work for him (Harvey Keitel, Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, and Maggie Cheung). Especially with Joy Luck Club, which seemed to find a wide audience in America.
     
  7. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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    Speaking of Wayne Wang flms, I'd give anything for Chan Is Missing to be released on DVD. This was an excellent early film of his I was lucky enough to see in a college class. It is nearly impossible to find on video and judging from the very few votes on IMDB, not many people have seen it. Highly recommended.
    I saw Center of the World in the theatre and I was disappointed. I thought I'd like it much more than I did. I think I ended up rating it a B-. I didn't like it enough to buy it on DVD, but that commentary track sounds interesting. Maybe I'll pick it up some day if the price is right (and I whittle down my unwatched stack of DVDs.).
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    The DVD is like $10-$12 at Circuit City (which is partially why I bought it).
     
  9. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    I was actually quite entranced by this movie. I guess I took it at its basic level - a portrait of two people and the awkward situation they enter into. I want to call it "gritty," but I think that implies too much about what the movie isn't.

    I don't go out of my way to seek out films about sexuality, but I do like coming across one like this that seems to shoot straight. I'm definitely more familiar with the mainstream American Pie approach to sexuality that really betrays the power that lies within such acts. I found it really perverse that people were dismissing Center of the World as essentially pornography when so much of it should make you feel uneasy rather than titilated.

    And I'll bet this is a hell of a lot better than that upcoming Swimfan movie, which I can't imagine adding any real depth to the realm of sexual politics. I'll take a mediocre movie that wants to say something over a retread of Fatal Attraction calculated to scare the crap out of promiscuous teenage boys.
     

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