Yimou Zhang – Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao AKA Shanghai Triad (1995)

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Summary:
“Country boy Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao) is brought to 1930s Shanghai by his uncle who wants the boy to become a member of the powerful gang ruled by manipulative Tang (Li Baotian). In fact, Shuisheng will serve Tang’s capricious mistress Bijou (Gong Li), a nightclub singer whom the boss proclaimed “the Queen of Shanghai.” When the boy’s uncle and the gang’s several other members die during a rival gang’s unsuccessful attempt on Tang’s life, the latter retreats to a remote small island, taking both Bijou and Shuisheng with him and thinking of revenge. The film’s English-language title is a little bit deceiving (the original Chinese title translates to “Row, Row, Row to Grandmother’s Bridge,” a line in Tang’s favorite song performed by Bijou), as this drama centers more on the boy’s coming of age and Bijou’s disillusionment than on Shanghai gang wars. The film is slow-paced and sometimes lacks a narrative drive, but Zhang Yimou’s images are striking as ever and Gong Li’s beauty shines throughout.” -AMG Continue reading

Bing Wang – Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks – Part 1: Rust (2003)

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From All Movie Guide
Filmmaker Wang Bing spent three years charting the decline and decay of one of China’s major industrial regions in his over nine-hour, three-part documentary Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks. From 1999 to 2001, Wang traveled via freight train through the northeast district of Tie Xi. Beginning with the four-hour first section entitled Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part One: Rust, the director visits three important factories in Tie Xi that are all on the verge of closure — a development sure to accelerate the region’s economic downturn. In the nearly three-hour second section, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part Two: Remnants, Wang visits a rundown governmental housing community that is also on the slate for demolition, leaving the inhabitants without shelter as well as unemployed. Completing his series is the final section, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks — Part Three: Rails, that follows some of the people that make their earnings by bumming around and on the rail lines. With the downturn of the economy, which in turn decreases the rail traffic, these scavengers are also falling into desperate times that force difficult choices to be made. The entirety of Tie Xi Que was screened at the 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. During its festival run, this film played in an English-subtitled version. Continue reading

Bing Wang – Feng ai AKA ‘Til Madness Do Us Part (2013)

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Wang Bing wrote:
There is no freedom in this hospital. But when men are locked inside a closed space, with iron wire fence and no freedom, they are capable of creating a new world and freedom between them, without morality or behavior restriction. Under the night-light, the bodies are like ghost, looking for their needs of love: physical or sentimental. This film approaches them at a moment where they are abandoned by their families and society. The repetition of their daily life amplifies the existence of time. And when time stops, life appears. Continue reading

Yimou Zhang – Gui lai AKA Coming Home (2014)

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Quote:
The story is adapted from the novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi (simplified Chinese: 陆犯焉识; traditional Chinese: 陸犯焉識) written by Yan Geling. Lu Yanshi had been a professor before being sent to the labour camp (laogai, literally “reform through labor”) during the Cultural Revolution. He escapes from the labour camp in faraway northwest Xining to make his way back to his long-missed wife Feng Wanyu and daughter Dandan. Dandan is a teenage ballerina, and is prevented from playing the lead role due to her father’s outlaw status. So when she stumbles across her father trying to hide in their apartment building to meet her mother, she reveals his presence to the police, and the police are therefore waiting to arrest him when he tries to meet his wife. Lu is captured, his wife is injured in the scuffle, and Dandan is awarded a supporting role in the ballet. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Lu comes home to find his family broken: his wife suffers from amnesia resulting from her injury, and she blames Dandan for having reported her father, and meanwhile Dandan has given up ballet and works in a textile factory. Continue reading

Yimou Zhang – Qian li zou dan qi AKA Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005)

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A young Japanese film maker is in hospital in Tokyo. His estranged father tries to visit, but the son refuses to see him. So, as a gesture of reconciliation, the father decides to go to China to complete the filming of a Chinese opera, called “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles,” which the son was working on but unable to finish. Continue reading