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Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day 1996
Description: The Yosemite Valley Railroad, which runs through the breathtaking scenery and stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park, is on the brink of failure. The grandson of a Chinese railroad laborer embarks on a romantic, but ultimately doomed, quest to save this railroad from being sold for scrap. His love of trains finds him working as a railroad-man, instead of at his father's profitable business. He manages to locate a wealthy eccentric investor to support him acquire the railroad, but its financial inviability makes this a quixotic reprieve, at best. The movie also portrays the anti-Asian racism show in America at the conclusion of Globe Fight II.
Released: 02 May 1997 Director: Christopher Munch Writers: Christopher Munch Actors: Peter Alexander, Jeri Arredondo, Henry Gibson, Michael Stipe Genres: Drama
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Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day Reviews:

This is among the most pretty movies of the last decade, in more methods than one. I was lucky enough to see the movie once in the theater. I wanted to own a copy. It was a long time coming to DVD but I recently learned that it was finally available, and so I bought a copy. The absolutely extraordinary cinematography by Rob Sweeney doesn't hit you on a TV screen with quite the same punch that it does on a full sized theater screen, but even so, first time viewers could still receive a nice sense of just how visually exceptional this film is. The film has many virtues, the best of which is probably its look. Even when showing us ordinary domestic features the black and white photography has a luminous, magical, dream-like quality that is magnified all the more when the camera turns to the natural spectacle of Yosemite park where most of the film is set. Not only does the texture of the imagery create you wish to bathe your soul in it, but each frame, without exception, is as beautifully composed as any produced by the nice directors and cinematographers of the 30s and 40s. Additionally, the film integrates documentary footage from the late 40s with seamless technical facility. Aside from the look of the film, the storyline movingly follows the obsessive dream of a young boy who tries to rescue a defunct pre-World Fight II short-line railroad. His effort arises partly from his interest in engineering, partly from what he seems to view as a proper method to live in the world, and partly from his grandfather's experience as an early railway laborer. His storyline is bound to touch anyone whose obsessions (professional or aesthetic) have ever been viewed with distrust or contempt by those around him, anyone who has found value in something others reject, and anyone who does not necessarily trust that all progress is nice progress. That he fails in his point is inevitable; that the inevitability of his failure seemed clear from the start, perhaps even to him, only makes his storyline more moving. Another interesting elements of the film contain the relationship of the main hero with a loner (Michael Stipe) that gently tips at the blurred lines between friendship, professional association, and sublimated romance. The movie's matter-of-fact presentation of late-40s bigotry directed at Asian-Americans is yet other of its uncommon background elements. If you wish some sort of fast-paced action, or a plot that says you exactly what you could think, look elsewhere. If you wish an exceptional example of visual storytelling that integrates the historical and the private and is rich in ambiguities, you can hardly do better than "The Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day."


I really wanted to like this movie. The visuals are spectacular and the filler shots of vintage Los Angeles are amazing. A lot of work and care went into crafting all of the visuals, from the scenery to props and the entire railroad itself. The storyline has some serious possibility, even being based on an current railway (the Yosemite Valley RR did exist and ended operations in 1945 and an 18 yr old child called John McFadden who worked at the Pacific Electric Railway DID test to save the RR). But, alas, that's where it ends. The acting was painfully flat and almost felt like a first reading of a script at a high school play. None of the characters were even very compelling, except the YVRR itself. There were a couple of throw away scenes that depicted the racism vs Asians, but they should have easy landed on the cutting room floor with no loss to the movie. The soundtrack is appropriate, but the abysmal acting kills this movie. It breaks my heart to tell it, but with just better acting and a slightly better script and you have a nice love letter to railroading history.


Black and white movie making is elevated into the heavens with Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day. The storyline of a young Chinese- American struggling to resurrect the historic Yosemite Valley Railroad is a visual treasure. Unlike the brilliant black and white DP's of movie noir, this movie gives fresh energy to the screen. The slow pace of the storyline might place off some, but the pace is excellent for allowing the viewer to look behind the action at the lush setting of the Yosemite park.



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