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  • Still Life

    Still Life

    ★★★★½

    The newsworthy construction of the Three Gorges Dam in 2005 - 2006 understandably drew director Jia Zhangke’s attention — a filmmaker with a keen interest in the lived effects of social and political change (as well as a keen eye for scenery and landscape), Jia was not likely to miss an opportunity to document the Chinese government’s attempt to change the face of the Yangtze River. Still Life is thus as much a carefully pieced-together documentary about a large-scale construction…

  • Platform

    Platform

    ★★★★

    Written for an in-class essay assignment:
    ---
    An aspect of Jia Zhangke’s work not often remarked upon is the almost off-handed way he treats sexual relationships between characters. In Platform, the larger narrative of which is about the progression of the People’s Republic of China into modernity, there are nested within the film’s narrative structure many brilliant, though rather pessimistic observations about sexual relationships. Two of the depictions especially stand out: the fraught, decades-long courtship between Minliang (Wang Hongwei) and…

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  • Prisoners

    Prisoners

    ½

    9.

    It's been a while, so the bile has most receded, although me and screening bud both agreed that this is basically the opposite of what cinema as an artform should be aiming to achieve. No doubt it's not incompetently crafted--the actors are doing what they can (probably too much), the editing is sharp and tailored to the story structure, plus y'know, Deakins (who really doesn't get much to work with here, IMO). But the writing is godawful and the…

  • The Day After

    The Day After

    ★★★★½

    For the past two years I've been finding it strange that Hong has gone from an auteurist curiosity to a full-fledged arthouse celebrity. Of course, he's been in the news, his films have opened up a bit... But to me, he's still a guy with really quite challenging and uncompromising notions about filmmaking as art, who is always dreaming up ways to sabotage established practices.

    But I think to myself some more, and maybe it's not so strange that he's…