I don't know how I could ever have been underwhelmed by The House of Flying Daggers. Perhaps it was the ending that drained away all the awe. I watched the Peony Palace scene again on DVD this morning. You don't have to know anything about the characters or the plot to enjoy this whole sequence as an astounding standalone set piece - in fact it actually doesn't make much sense at all in the context of the rest of the story!
Last night this film was pipped to the best non-English language film BAFTA by The Motorcycle Diaries, just about on merit. Walter Salles came up with his whole gang and ended his acceptance speech with "oh and thank you very much for inventing football."
He was the only speaker that night that managed to get a laugh out of the audience, largely because Stephen Fry's relentless squirm-inducing unfunniness had turned this stage into a comedy death row.
Salles' triumph prevented us from seeing much of Zhang Ziyi apart from her smile and the odd little perm she was sporting. There really was quite a lot of eye candy on display. For the ladies there was the compact and toothy Gael Garcia Bernal sitting beside his old charolastra buddy Diego Luna, who surprisingly hadn't received a nomination for Dirty Dancing 2, Havana Nights. Ho ho.
Juliette Lewis' secure self-caricature as a spaced out hillbilly seems almost as well-practiced as Stephen Fry's unctious British twat. The gooey praise he dollopped on every set of award presenters kept everyone on the verge of vomitation, but the real finger down the throat was assertion by one actress that all the nominated performances by male actors were "great and transforming".
"Vera who?" could be read clearly in the magnified eyes of Martin Scorcese and most of the other visiting self-lovers from the States.