Yi’nan Diao – Bai ri yan huo AKA Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

 Yinan Diao   Bai ri yan huo AKA Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yinan Diao   Bai ri yan huo AKA Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Northern China, 1999. The grisly discovery of several corpses is made in a small town. A bloody incident during the attempt to capture the alleged murderer leaves two police officers dead and another badly injured. The surviving officer Zhang Zili is suspended from duty; he takes a job as a security guard at a factory. Five years later, another series of mysterious murders occurs. Aided by a former colleague, Zhang decides to investigate under his own initiative. He discovers that all the victims were connected to Wu Zhizhen, a young woman who works at a dry cleaners. Pretending to be a customer, Zhang begins to observe her and finds himself falling in love with the reticent Wu Zhizhen. One cold winter’s day he makes a horrific discovery. His life now in danger, he realises it is not always possible to separate guilt from innocence. Diao Yinan’s use of the characters of the ex-police officer and the femme fatale is a direct reference to classic detective films. This director’s third feature is a noirish thriller in drained colours which, whilst playfully alluding to the genre, also invites us into the lives of very ordinary people. (-berlinale.de) Continue reading

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Ming Zhang – Wu shan yun yu aka Rainclouds over Wushan (1996)

 Ming Zhang   Wu shan yun yu aka Rainclouds over Wushan (1996)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Ming Zhang   Wu shan yun yu aka Rainclouds over Wushan (1996)

Interlocking episodes and a bemused, deadpan vision shape the Chinese film ”Rain Clouds Over Wushan,” which is directed with quirky promise and dry precision by Zhang Ming. Mr. Zhang echoes Jim Jarmusch with his bare, quotidian settings and with characters whose quiet desperation can give way to surprising flashes of tenderness and sly, tacit wit. The film’s manner is impressively measured, but its progress can be very desultory. Events progress slowly, accompanied by pointedly mundane detail. The actors are often in the grip of stylized anomie. Continue reading

Hongqi Li – Han jia AKA Winter Vacation (2010)

fqBfq7 Hongqi Li   Han jia AKA Winter Vacation (2010)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Hongqi Li   Han jia AKA Winter Vacation (2010)

An ordinary village in Northern China, the last day of the winter vacation. Four idle, aimless adolescents gather at Zhou Zhixin’s home, a friend who lives with his father, brother and nephew. Like most contemporary teenagers, these youths want to enjoy their last day of holiday and simply hang out in this place where nothing ever seems likely to happen. Their conversations are desultory and they sometimes seem to argue for argument’s sake. One of them, Laowu, talks frankly with his girlfriend about how teenage love might affect their studies, while Laobao questions school’s value and relevance to real life. Continue reading

Mu Fei – Xiao cheng zhi chun aka Spring in a Small Town (1948)

51VCQa7XR1L Mu Fei   Xiao cheng zhi chun aka Spring in a Small Town (1948)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Mu Fei   Xiao cheng zhi chun aka Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Quote:
“Spring in a Small Town” is a remarkable fusion of classic form and the convincingly real. It moves from its central character, Yuwen, who is isolated in a small town, and in an arranged marriage with an ill neurasthenic husband, Lyan; and moves too from a truly enduring acting job by Wei Wei as Yuwen.

The story revolves around memory: memory of love, and memory of a pre-war period of youthful promise. These moments of being are stirred to life by the visit of the husband’s long estranged friend Zhang, who is now a city doctor. Zhang means renewed life and vigor at the desolate, war ruined estate of the noble Lyan, and love and passion to Yuwen, who happens to have been someone she once loved as a teen. Continue reading

Fei Mu – Kong Fuzi AKA Confucius (1940)

confucius19400000122013 Fei Mu   Kong Fuzi AKA Confucius (1940)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Fei Mu   Kong Fuzi AKA Confucius (1940)

Confucius (Chinese: 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ) is a 1940 Chinese film directed by Fei Mu. Produced during the war, the film was released twice in the 1940s before being thought lost. In 2001, the film was rediscovered when an anonymous donor sent a damaged copy of the print to the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA). The HKFA then spent seven years restoring the print which was finally screened to modern audiences at the 33rd Hong Kong International Film Festival in April 2009.
The film depicts Confucius’s later life, as he traveled across a China divided by war and strife in an ultimately futile effort to teach various warlords and kings his particular philosophy.
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Yimou Zhang – Yi ge dou bu neng shao AKA Not One Less (1999)

onq1 Yimou Zhang   Yi ge dou bu neng shao AKA Not One Less (1999)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yimou Zhang   Yi ge dou bu neng shao AKA Not One Less (1999)

Plot Summary: “In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each day and promises her an extra 10 yuan if there’s not one less student when he returns. Within days, poverty forces the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, to leave for the city to work. Minzhi, possessed of a stubborn streak, determines to bring him back. She enlists the 26 remaining pupils in earning money for her trip. She hitches to Jiangjiakou City and begins her search. The boy, meanwhile, is there, lost and begging for food. Minzhi’s stubbornness may be Huike and the village school’s salvation.” Continue reading

Yimou Zhang – Huozhe AKA To Live (1994)

av6k Yimou Zhang   Huozhe AKA To Live (1994)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yimou Zhang   Huozhe AKA To Live (1994)

Review (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
To Live is a simple title, but it conceals a universe. The film follows the life of one
family in China, from the heady days of gambling dens in the 1940s to the austere
hardship of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. And through all of their fierce struggles
with fate, all of the political twists and turns they endure, their hope is basically one
summed up by the heroine, a wife who loses wealth and position and children, and
who says, “All I ask is a quiet life together.” The movie has been directed by Zhang
Yimou
, the leading Chinese filmmaker right now (although this film offended Beijing and
earned him a two-year ban from filmmaking). It stars his wife, Gong Li, the leading
Chinese actress (likewise banned). Together their credits include Ju Dou, Raise the Red
Lantern
and The Story of Qui Ju. Like them it follows the fate of a strong woman, but
also this time a strong man; somehow they stick together through incredible hardships.
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pixel Yimou Zhang   Huozhe AKA To Live (1994)