Archives for posts with tag: China

Instead of Chinese Box, I’d like to order solid two hours of Gong Li smoking and pantomiming to Marlene Dietrich.

Well, the scene with Gong Li wondrously mimicking Marlene Dietrich shows you what kind of roles Gong Li should be doing, rather than this one, as an ex-prostitute from the mainland come to make her way in Hong Kong. Her character exists as nothing more than a symbol (of the new Chinese-governed Hong Kong), as does Jeremy Irons’ dying Brit (the English era soon to be finished), and Maggie Cheung’s wild, frenetic, unpredictable street vendor (as the wild, frenetic, unpredictable Hong Kong in transition, with a strained past with the British and an uncertain future with the Chinese). The characters themselves are so burdened by their symbolism that Read the rest of this entry »

The Soong Sisters poster

The Soong Sisters (1997); directed by Mabel Cheung; screenplay by Alex Law

This story is just too sprawling to fit into one film, but with its built-in historical scope, international intrigue, astonishing wealth, clamor for power, sacrifice, selfishness, and schisms, it would make a fantastic, big-budget mini-series. The sisters’ story is largely the story of China in the first half of the last century, and it didn’t end in the 40s, as does this movie.

The sisters and their families led fascinating lives that traced the political dreams and ruptures of their country; however, the story here rides roughshod over long stretches of history, and without dates, it’s hard to follow exactly what is happening and when. (Years ago I had Read the rest of this entry »

At Mr. Lousy’s behest, I finally watched the Weijun Chen documentary Please Vote for Me, which chronicles the campaigns of three eight-year-old children running for Class Monitor in the first democratic election at their middle-class school in Wuhan, China.

It’s one of the more compelling and revealing political films of the decade, with so much about kids, political persuasion, political personality, children’s motivations, adult ambitions, boys and girls in competition, China, Chinese children, Chinese parents, transitioning to democracy, raw democracy in action, and how much gritty effort and how little actual thought it takes to win.

The kids? Could Xiaofei’s face have possibly been any more transparently, painfully expressive? Cheng Cheng, the portly, magnetic, manipulative, verbose, bullying, underwear-lounging, brilliant bon vivant – who manages to be sympathetic even when he’s at his worst, and is heartbreaking at his defeat? And the seemingly upright Lu Lei – who shows us in the end that the more things change, the more they really can stay the same?

One might ask for better candidates, but not better characters.

Chinese champion Dong Dong looks at the world below, from upside-down.

The trampoline just doesn’t enjoy the same status as artistic gymnastics. It’s relegated to a status even lower than rhythmic gymnastics by most of the press. (And I have a special place in my heart for rhythmic gymnastics.) Nobody goes wild for trampolining? Maybe some network executives and the world at large should see more of Dong Dong, the Chinese Read the rest of this entry »