China

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

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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. Read More »

Fei Mu – Kong Fuzi AKA Confucius (1940)

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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 – Huozhe AKA To Live (1994)

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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.
Read More »

Yinan Diao – Ye che aka Night Train (2007)

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From DVD distributor trigon-film:

Wu Hongyan, woman executioner in her thirties, works at the court in the province of Shaanxi in China, where she executes women condemned to death only. In spite of her macabre job, Wu Hongyan travels every weekend to a town nearby to join parties organized by a marriage bureau. The result of her dating is mediocre, until she meets the mysterious Li Jun. But she is thousands of miles away of imagining that Li Jun’s wife is the last of the women she executed. Electrifying! Read More »

Hongqi Li – Huangjin zhou AKA Routine Holiday (2008)

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QUOTE:
Topics from social awkwardness to forced nutrition are among the subjects discussed by a man and the various acquaintances that drop by to sit on his couch during a vacation in “Routine Holiday,” a film so utterly devoid of pleasure or meaning it defies comparison. Pointless extended silences and uncomfortable spatial dynamics define this affected drama far more than insightful commentary does.

“Routine Holiday” is a nearly perfect festival movie. Wide release is not an option for a film that that takes the “motion” out of “motion pictures,” and only increased post-Olympic China fever will stoke any interest in even art house release overseas. Distribution in Asia, where Hollywood is king, is also a long shot.

A national holiday is the impetus for Li Hongqi’s (NETPAC winner “So Much Rice”) plodding meditation on China’s socio-political ills. The locus for a series of wooden conversations is Tuo Ga’s (Yang Bo) home, where a parade of friends and relatives drop by on their day off to say … absolutely nothing. The most excitement comes from the Lovelorn Man (Xiao He), who would really like to have an affair — and goes so far as to tell his wife so. The dour space inhabited by a man, his son, two brothers, and a committed couple is suitably bleak, and echoes the characters’ bleak worldviews. Read More »

Kaige Chen – Caught in the Web (2012)

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The story begins on a bus, when white-collar worker Ye refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen. Her defiance is videotaped by a journalist intern and played during a news show. The video sparks intense debate on and off the Internet. Some Internet users search for Ye’s personal information and post it all online. The issue soon brings tremendous changes to the families of both the journalist intern and Ye’s boss. Read More »

Yen-ping Chu – Yi shi er niao AKA One Stone and Two Birds (2005)

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During the reign of Emperor Jia Jing of the Ming Dynasty, the evil court official Yan Song relies on the emperor favoritism towards him, becoming overbearing and domineering. An honest official Zhang Ying Long impeaches Yan Song w/ a “Ten Cimes Five Deceits” against him. But instead he gets flogged 30 times, and banished to a far off frontier Guizhou.

Zhang Ying Long’s remonstration won the hearts of the common people, on the day of his banishment thousands of people turned out to see him off. At the sight of this, Yan Sung knows that if he does not kill off Zhang Ying Long, he will be unable to deter other court officials. Thereupon, he arranges for assassins to kill Zhang Ying Long during the journey. Read More »