Chinese Cinema

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, 1972

From the opening (recurring) sequence of a highly stylized nighttime image of snowflakes trickling through the saturated illumination of a roof opening in a feudal era estate and onto the lifeless body of an assassinated aristocrat, Chu Yuan illustrates his elegant command of composition and atmosphere in Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan. The film… read more »

The House of 72 Tenants, 1973

Adapted from a stage play, Chu Yuan’s enormously popular peasant comedy The House of 72 Tenants is a delirious, unabashedly old-fashioned lowbrow ensemble confection that features immediately recognizable film stars from the decade, over-the-top caricatured performances, preposterously convoluted schemes, and a requisite – and justly deserved – comeuppance of the powerful, self-indulgent, and corrupt evil… read more »

Welcome to Destination China, 2003

Creating another slice-of-life pseudo-documentary chronicle of marginalized people living in impoverished slums along the banks of the Suzhou River (and in the process, deconstructs the romantic vision of Ye Lou’s ephemeral Suzhou River), Welcome to Destination China loosely centers on a madam called Jennifer and the desperate people whose meager livelihood rests on her disreputable… read more »

Shanghai Panic, 2001

Based on a banned novel by underground writer Mian Mian entitled Welcome to Panic, Andrew Cheng’s socially relevant, but technically uneven digital video pseudo-documentary follows a close-knit group of rootless, young adults (apparently played by Mian Mian and her circle of friends) in the urban jungle of Shanghai as a male friend – perhaps struggling… read more »

Accident, 2009

Part caper film and part psychological thriller, Soi Cheang’s Accident is an early highlight in this year’s Film Comment Selects program. Opening to the gruesome image of a fatal car accident scene, the film immediately recalibrates the viewer’s expectation over the notion of accident in another seemingly random traffic-related episode as an impatient driver, blocked… read more »

Durian Durian, 2000

A sweet little girl from the the city of Shenzhen in mainland China named Fan (Mak Wai-fan) recounts with innocent reflection her father’s early dawn ritual of dressing in complete darkness, preparing his meal, and rolling his portable cart to the train station, as he makes his exhausting daily commute to Hong Kong to buy… read more »

Little Cheung, 2000

Little Cheung (Yiu Yuet-Ming) has learned that money and existence are inextricably connected to each other: “I’ve known from an early age, money is a dream. It’s a fantasy. It’s also a future.” His doting grandmother, a former Chinese opera actress, spends her afternoons gambling at a mah jong parlor. His grandmother’s affable and religious… read more »

The Longest Summer, 1998

A public broadcast on March 31, 1997 officially announces the disbanding of the Hong Kong Military Service Corps – the cadre of Chinese soldiers serving in the British garrison on the island – as images of regimental exercises leading to the final lowering of the sovereign flag cuts to a shot of a young boy… read more »

Made in Hong Kong, 1997

Autumn Moon (Sam Lee) describes with resigned disaffection his aimless life in the urban jungle of Hong Kong: playing street basketball with other underemployed, high school dropouts in the city park; collecting loansharking debts for a mob boss named Big Brother Wing (Chan Sang); coming to the rescue of a defenseless, mentally disabled friend named… read more »

Last Train Home, 2009

From the seemingly mundane (if logistically nightmarish) objective of documenting the annual mass exodus of migrant workers from industrial cities as they return home to their rural villages in time for the Chinese New Year, Lixin Fan poignantly captures the dissolution of family in the face of globalism, poverty, and disenfranchisement in Last Train Home…. read more »

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