色,戒 | Lust, Caution

Lust Caution

Shanghai, 1942. The World War II Japanese occupation of this Chinese city continues in force. Mrs. Mak, a woman of sophistication and means, walks into a café, places a call, and then sits and waits. She remembers how her story began several years earlier, in 1938 China. She is not in fact Mrs. Mak, but shy Wong Chia Chi. With WWII underway, Wong has been left behind by her father, who has escaped to England. As a freshman at university, she meets fellow student Kuang Yu Min. Kuang has started a drama society to shore up patriotism. As the theater troupe’s new leading lady, Wong realizes that she has found her calling, able to move and inspire audiences and Kuang. He convenes a core group of students to carry out a radical and ambitious plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator, Mr. Yee. Each student has a part to play; Wong will be Mrs. Mak, who will gain Yees’ trust by befriending his wife and then draw the man into an affair. Wong transforms herself utterly inside and out, and the scenario proceeds as scripted until an unexpectedly fatal twist spurs her to flee. Shanghai, 1941. With no end in sight for the occupation, Wong having emigrated from Hong Kong goes through the motions of her existence. Much to her surprise, Kuang re-enters her life. Now part of the organized resistance, he enlists her to again become Mrs. Mak in a revival of the plot to kill Yee, who as head of the collaborationist secret service has become even more a key part of the puppet government. As Wong reprises her earlier role, and is drawn ever closer to her dangerous prey, she finds her very identity being pushed to the limit…

Directed by Ang Lee | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Wei Tang, Joan Chen, Leehom Wang, Chung-Hua Tou | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Calgary Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Edmonton Film Festival, London Film Festival, Vienna Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Göteborg Film Festival

Advertisements

上海伦巴 | Shanghai Lunba

Shanghai Lunba

The last film of Peng Xiaolian’s Shanghai Trilogy, Shanghai Rumba is based on a true story. The film draws us into 1940’s Shanghai, when Kuomintang’s corruption was at its zenith, while ironically retaining the opulence of its golden age in the film industry. The film is about the making of Crows and Sparrows as well as the difficulties of women’s entry into the society at that time, as told through the story of an actress. Wanyu’s life has been marked by historical turmoil and changes in Shanghai at the time. She is forced to play the role of the good wife after marrying into a wealthy family, but cannot shake off her true calling as a film actress after being inspired by Gone with the Wind. Chosen as a heroine for Crows and Sparrows and free from her stifling and restricted life, her dream comes true. Wanyu falls in love with Ah Chuan, who plays opposite her in the film. But he gives up her love because of the burdens his family has imposed on him. They part ways and meet again on the set of a film several years later. The life of an actress, who never gives up her dream and love in the mist of turmoil, unfolds through the alternating focus on the inside and outside of the 1940’s Shanghai film scene. Though based on a true story, this is the most glamorous and dramatic of Peng’s films.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Quan Yuan, Yu Xia, Yi Guan, Jie Cui, Xin Gao | Presented at N/A

美丽上海 | Shanghai Story

Shanghai Story

The Kang family was once well-off, owning a garden house in Shanghai, until catastrophe befell them in the late 1960s. The four adult children of the family are now scattered and residing in three places: Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and San Francisco. When the mother is suddenly hospitalized, the children return to see her. The family reunion, however, is anything but a happy event: the four siblings are unable to even have one peaceful dinner together, and the mother herself has serious matters to settle with all of them.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Joey Wang, Zhenyao Zheng, Youliang Zhao, Josephine Koo, Yuanzheng Feng | Presented at Shanghai Film Festival

女人的故事 | Women’s Story

Women's Story

Women’s Story was the first work to garner international acclaim for Peng Xiaolian. It is about three women living in China’s northern countryside and straightforwardly raises the issue of gender inequality hidden in a communist society. The reality of women’s lives in the film is very similar to that of Cuiqiao’s in Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige), a film made during the same period. Both films show the fact that farmers and intellectuals, rural and urban, man and woman are not equal in the operation of the communist ideology and criticize the Confucian patriarchal tradition still surviving in rural peasant society. The film insists on the addition of an adjective, ‘patriarchal,’ before communism. There are three women in the film: Laizima, Xiaofeng and Jinxiang. Laizima bring raises her 8-year-old son by herself, Xiaofeng is sold into marriage to a deaf-mute, and Jinxiang has to sell linsey thread. They go to the big city together but are deceived and get lost and in trouble on the way. They finally return home but waiting for them are their families and the deaf-mute who was supposed to be married to Xiaofeng. Against the deaf man with a rope and his friend with a hoe, Xiaofeng slowly walks towards them and at that moment Laizima and Jinxiang stand abreast with Xiaofeng. They march off against two men together. This is a women’s film resisting through women’s solidarity and revealing patriarchal practices such as the preference of sons over daughters, the exchange of women between tribes through marriage, and financial subordination in China.

Directed by Xiaolian Peng | Starring : Wenrong Zhang, Min Zhang, Ruhui Song, Xiaojie Lin, Zhenjun He | Presented at N/A