Do you enjoy nouveau Chinese cinema?
They no longer just bootleg films in China. They've actually begun to produce respectable dramas that will surprise you with their content and subject matter. Here are a few Chinese movies to get you started:
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Two urban young men, Ma and Luo, are sent upriver during the Cultural Revolution for a little re-education. Peasant life is not too their liking, but they manage to steal a suitcase full of forbidden European literature, which helps pass the time. They also become enamored with a local girl who has a little more spunk than her contemporaries, and they begin reading their forbidden books to her. The boys teach her to read and she is soon aware that her mountain village is too small for her ambitions. The scenery and the photography are awe inspiring, and the frankness of the subject matter shows a new liberalness that adds dimension to the tale. Even the subtitles did a decent job of showing the complexities of the poor souls who were flattened by this so-called revolution. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is long but not endless, and the director gets in a little dig about the social and environmental damage of the Three Gorges dam. 112 minutes. Mandarin. 2003.
Zhou Yu's Train
Zhou Yu is a porcelain artist who falls in love with a poet, Chen Ching. They have a commuter romance, and she spends a great deal of time on the train to and from their trysts. Although this would pale against an American or French love tale, it is fairly erotic for a Mainland Chinese film. (Yes, this is a modern Chinese film that actually has sex in it. How weird is that?)
During her commute, Zhou makes the acquaintance of a young veterinarian and adds him to her tag team of lovers. You realize, however it is not the men, but the train ride that really turns her on. God, Amtrak does nothing for me. Anyway, life is good until she decides to try out the bus. A little confusing, a little too much clothing, but this is genuine progress and bodes well for the future of Chinese cinema. 2003. 90 minutes. Mandarin w/subtitles.
Going to School with My Father on My Back
If you think the title is long, wait till you see the film. This
is the tale of a precocious village boy, Shiwa, whose brains and
good luck afford him a decent education. He excels in chemistry at
the local high school and wins a regional prize to the delight of
his father and members of their village. The father, a widower, has
a stroke and requires constant attention. Since his daughter has
recently married, the fathers care falls on Shiwa. He tries to
balance his familial duties with his desire to go to college, but it
all seems hopeless. Going to School with My Father on My Back
is a touching story that gives some insight into the strength of
familial obligation that still exists within rural Chinese culture.
This film manages to convey a strong emotional story without
resorting to saccharine and swelling music. Chinese w/subtitles. 90
long minutes. Unrated.
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