Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This week's movie:

The stone of the Vietnam War caused ripples across time that are still felt today.

What do you suppose happened to the children of American GIs and young women in Vietnam when the Americans pulled out? In many cases, they got left behind. Not quite American and not quite Vietnamese, they were shunned by their own families. This is the story of one such outcast. Binh is 17 years old. He lives with relatives, as his mother left to work in Saigon. His relatives don’t like him, because he’s half American, and treat him as “less valued than dust”.

He leaves home to find a better life. He first finds his mother, working as a servant for a rich family. There he learns more about his father who “one day, just didn’t come back”. He could have been killed or he could have been shipped out, or he could have bolted, she’s unsure. Armed with a photograph and an 18 year-old address, he decides he will go to America, the beautiful country, to find out. His mother urges him to take his young brother with him.

The story of Binh’s journey to find his father is truly one of epic proportions. On his way, they meet a young woman named Ling, played by the beautiful Ling Bai, and fall in with her. She is a survivor and if they are to survive themselves, they’re going to need her help.

The trip is not easy.

The film is beautiful to look at. In fact, everything about this movie is beautiful – that’s why they called it THE “BEAUTIFUL” COUNTRY after all. But why should that be? Well, here are a few things that make the film so damn beautiful.

  1. The journey. It’s horrible – but it’s beautifully shot.
  2. Sumptuous landscapes.
  3. Mountainous mountains.
  4. Cloudious clouds …….. well, you get the idea.
  5. America, when seen through the eyes of a foreigner. America is big. Big and beautiful …………if you don’t look so closely at the nasty ugly bits that is.
  6. I’m thinking, right off, you might want to stay away from, like Detroit and St Louis, and parts of Mississippi, and maybe parts of Texas. In fact, you may want to just look at America from a ways back – say …. from Portugal.
  7. Did I mention the beautiful Ling Bai? The camera just loves her. She was great in another of FranksFilms recommended movies, THE THREE EXTREMES (My apologies if you were trying to forget that one.).
  8. The ending was so beautiful that it made me want to cry. Well, it was either that or the onion I was dicing while preparing a particularly excellent bouillabaisse. I like to brown the onions with pancetta, coarsely ground black pepper, and butter before adding the flour for the roux. I think it brings out the natural sweetness of the onions which will later complement the saltiness of the clams. Balance, that’s what’s important in any ……..Wait – what was I talking about?
  9. The sea voyage was very treacherous, (****CAUTION: SPOILERS****) even though there were no pirates of the Caribbean, no giant squid, and no alien spores or spacecraft. It was just naturally (and beautifully) treacherous.
  10. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I used a sterile eye-wash, and then tweezers, and then the eye-wash again ………but it’s still in there.

Put THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY in your travel plans and


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