Posts Tagged ‘Chinese films’

ImageWhen the lights went up after the premiere of Wu Ren Qu (No Man’s Land) at the 64th Berlinale Film Festival in February, the twists and shocks that came with the feature were not quite over. Director Ning Hao and three of the stars, Xu Zheng, Yu Nan und Huang Bo, took the stage to acknowledge the well deserved applause of an appreciative audience.

There they delivered the final surprise: Xu Zheng, who plays the bespectacled and shaggy-haired lawyer in the feature, had assumed the physical appearance of his adversary, Huang Bo, who portrays the film’s bald, stocky villain. Bo, meanwhile, now sported an almost Elvis-like pompadour. It was more than mere make-up, hairstyles, and costumes, the quartet explained. They looked different (the exception being Nan, familiar to Western audiences from her role as Maggie in The Expendables 2, who remains as lovely as ever) because of the amount of time that had passed since filming. The movie was completed four years earlier, but had been kept from release by Chinese censors who deemed it too nihilistic.

And the censors were half-right. Wu Ren Qu is nihilistic. But wonderfully so.

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ImageBlack Coal, Thin Ice (Bai Ri Yan Huo) winning the Golden Bear as Best Film at the 64th Berlinale Festival in February came as no surprise – not because the film merited the honor, but rather because Berlinale juries are notorious for their idiosyncratic and unpopular choices, and the film was not considered a candidate for the top prize leading into the award ceremony. Festival organizers should consider crowdsourcing the selection of the winner of the Competition category. The effectiveness of that approach is on display in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, where audiences picked The Act of Killing and The Broken Circle Breakdown as winners in 2013. Both films went on to earn Academy Award nominations.

It is doubtful that the future holds such promise for Black Coal, Thin Ice though one could argue that there is a crackerjack 90-minute noir locked inside the current 106-minute version.  (more…)