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Friday, January 18, 2008

Today's NY Times: Two Chinese Movies

Today's NYTimes reviews two Chinese movies, Still Life and Summer Palace.

Still Life: The blood and the sweat run directly into the Yangtze River, where they mingle with more than a few tears. The movie takes place amid the clatter and misery of the Three Gorges Dam, which cuts across the Yangtze in central China. The largest dam in the world, Three Gorges is a site of great cultural and political strife because of both environmental and humanitarian concerns. More than one million people have been displaced because of the dam (more are expected to follow), evicted from their homes by a ravenous hunger for power, electric and otherwise, that is washing them and history away. A modern master of postmodern discontent, Jia Zhang-ke is among the most strikingly gifted filmmakers working today whom you have probably never heard of. (Manohla Dargis)

Summer Palace: Yu Hong (Lei Hao) reflects that her college years were the “most confused” time in her life. A lot of us might feel similarly, but Yu Hong, the beautiful and passionate heroine of this beautiful and passionate film, is something of a special case. Yu Hong arrives in Beijing in 1988, and her first year at the university, already full of emotional and sexual upheaval, ends with the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and their violent suppression by the Chinese government. Summer Palace, which was first shown in competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, is remarkable for its candor about politics and sex. (A. O. Scott)

(Chinese Cinema)


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