Take A Chance On A Chinese Film

Richard Gere in the year 2000
This week, CBS News Sunday Morning's John Leonard gives some very specific advice about where to spend your movie money this weekend. And it means walking away from Richard Gere.
You will probably want to see the new Robert Altman movie, Dr. T. and the Women no matter what I say. So I won't say much.

Richard Gere is Dr. T., a Dallas gynecologist and a biblical Job. The many women he thinks he loves punish him like plagues.

Except for Liv Tyler, they're all blonde.

Except for Helen Hunt, they're all dimwits.

In no particular order, they also include Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Shelley Long, and Tara Reid. And if they aren't bonkers or lesbians, they are sex-starved, drink too much, shop too much, believe in conspiracies, and play golf.

This is supposed to be funny.

Now, how can I talk you, instead, into leaving immediately for your local art house to see a movie that's three hours long and in Chinese?

Yi Yi in Mandarin means individually. It is translated here as A One and a Two, as if a jazz band were about to riff.

When this movie is over, you'll wish it weren't. You will also feel better about being alive.

The Leonard File
Read past reviews by John Leonard.
Edward Yang tracks three generations of a middle-class family in modern Taipei from a wedding, to a funeral, through plate-glass windows, elevator doors, surveillance cameras, TV news, computer games, sonograms, swimming pools, brilliant interiors, and urban nightscapes.

See N.J. rediscover Sherry, the first love he jilted 20years ago.

See N.J. at his computer company. And N.J. going out to dinner with the Japanese games designer his partners want to cheat, ending up in a karaoke bar.

And N.J. going to Tokyo for a second chance with Sherry.

See Min-Min (N.J.'s wife) cracking up after her mother goes into a coma.

See Ting-Ting, daughter of N.J. and Min-Min, forget the garbage because of romance. And fall in puppy-love with dangerous Fatty, who goes to too many movies. And walk home alone in the rain.

And, finally, see 8-year-old Yang-Yang, son of N.J. and Min-Min, brother of Ting-Ting, picked on by girls and teachers, worried about what he can't see, taking snapshots of mosquitos and the backof heads, playing in the bathtub, being smitten, dressed for battle, and saying goodbye.

Movies as far-flung, crafty, generous and humanizing as Yi Yi, so full of contour, sinew and grace, always remind critics of some novel.

I am reminded, oddly but truly, of the stories of John Cheever, which spoke of simplicity and usefulness; of stamina, valor, virtue, kindness and beauty; of what he called "that sense of sanctuary that is the essence of love"; and of the shadow that falls on all of these.

Don't miss this one. Do yourself a favor.