Farewell My Concubine and Chasing Amy

When I rented both of these movies, I didn’t know that they had the same plot.
Both movies are love triangles between two men who are artistic partners and a woman with a promiscuous past who becomes involved with one of the men. One of men has an unrequited crush on his buddy.

The settings and tone couldn’t be more different. Chasing Amy takes place over a year in gritty-bohemian North Jersey and the world of aspiring comic book artists. Farewell My Concubine takes place over fifty tumultuous decades in North China, in the glamorous world of the Peking Opera.

Farewell My Concubine is an intense melodrama in a world of shocking cruelty. At beginning of the movie, a desperate prostitute brings her young son to train for the opera. They won’t accept him because he has a sixth finger on one hand, so she shields his eyes and amputates the finger. The Japanese occupation, nationalist regime, communist takeover, and cultural revolution put the relationships among the characters under unbearable strain. What I loved about this movie was the exploration of loyalty and betrayal under test.

Chasing Amy is a bittersweet romantic comedy in a mundane world of diners, little club parties, comic book tradeshows, and business decisions balancing nuances of artistic purity and commercial success. The movie is at its best when it is dramatizing GenX sexual mores, when Joey Adams and Jason Lee trade stories of bad highschool sex, and when Jason Lee and Ben Affleck slowly realize they are at a lesbian bar. Lauren Adams gets to preach the film’s moral in a PC sermon about sexual exploration and true love. Ben Affleck can’t act, but the rest of the cast and the clever dialog add up to an entertaining movie.

According to this poll, 70% of high school seniors support gay marriage (53%) or civil unions (20%). In a few decades, plots about doomed and unrequited gay love may go the way of plots about doomed women who try to get jobs.

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