House of Flying Daggers at Hoyts, Broadway

Didn’t enjoy House of Flying Daggers as much as Hero (see my comments on Hero). It had a more conventional plot, but I found I didn’t really care that much about any of the characters. And while the visuals were impressive, it didn’t have the incredible use of colour in Hero. It was less stylized – more like the first flashback in Hero than the later ones. Which was still pretty amazing, but it was the later Hero flashbacks that really stunned me.

I was also very bothered by an early scene in House of the Flying Daggers, in which some horses fall over. It looked as if the horses had been deliberately tripped, rather than being trained to fall in an impressive but non-dangerous manner. I couldn’t find anything on the Internet Movie Database that actually said whether any horses were injured (there was no Humane Society clause at the end of the film, but then I don’t think it was filmed in a location that has a Humane Society or equivalent). However, the IMDB did say, in its alternate versions bit, that the UK version was cut by 18 seconds “to remove three instances of real animal cruelty (in this case, three horsefalls)”. This is enough to make me unsure whether I will see any of Yimou Zhang’s future films.

Million Dollar Baby at Hoyts, Broadway


Out of competition drug testing

For all that I’ve been on the National Fencing Squad for years, I’ve been lucky enough to never be picked for drug testing. This changed tonight.

I had arrived at training, and was just changing my shoes, when two ASDA people walked into the room, with my name on their list. This is the first time they’ve ever turned up at our club – previously, they’ve come to National level competitions, but as it happened I haven’t made the top four at the comps they’ve been at, so I was never selected for testing.

The way it works is that from the moment they’ve identified me, one of them has to keep me in their sight at all times. This includes the bit when I’m actually producing the urine sample for them. What fun! (That was sarcasm, by the way.)

After drinking about a litre of water in 40 minutes, I was able to produce the sample in spite of having a witness. But the security around it is really amazing. I had to give them a list of any medication (including vitamin supplements) that I had taken in the past week. They gave me a choice of three (sealed) cups in which to produce the sample. Then I had a choice of three packs of sample jars – the pack was numbered and sealed. I had to unseal it, take out the two jars inside, make sure they were sealed and that they and the pack all had the same numbers on them. I then had to pour the sample into the two jars (they weren’t allowed to touch it) and reseal the pack. One of the jars is sent to a lab for testing, and the other is held for a second test if there is a problem with the first one – i.e. if it comes out positive. If everything is okay, I’ll get a report in 8 to 10 weeks. However, they explained that if there’s a positive result from the first jar, I should hear back in a couple of days, and I then have the right to be present for the opening and testing of the second jar.

It was all a bit embarrassing from my point of view. However, later I got to thinking what kind of a job it must be to follow an athlete around and then watch her pee into a bottle. I hope that it’s only a small part of the ASDA person’s role, or that it’s only something she has to do for a short time, before moving on to bigger and better things. I don’t imagine it’s the sort of job most people are thinking about when they talk to the Careers Guidance person at High School.

Kinsey at Hoyts, Broadway

I guess it’s hard to distill an entire life into a couple of hours. Nevertheless, Kinsey did seem rather “bitty”. It felt as if there was lots of other stuff happening that we only saw segments of – e.g. his relationship with his son, and with the other researchers. Also, I felt that all the relationship problems were solved too quickly, too easily and too neatly. I found that side of it a bit hard to believe.

I also found the inclusion of the animal footage in the final credits a bit tacky. I assume it was footage taken for serious research purposes, but it seemed designed more to get a laugh – like something out of “Funniest Home Videos”.

Notwithstanding all of this, I didn’t dislike the film, and the performances were certainly good. But ultimately, it didn’t really engage me.