泪王子 | Prince of Tears

Prince of Tears

Largely based on Yonfan’s childhood memories, Prince of Tears is akin to a sumptuous fairy tale. Alternately magnified through the eyes of innocent children and darkened by the disturbed dreams of frightened, guilty adults, the realities of a little-known era are explored through Yonfan’s powerful vision. As in the best of fables, here too we have a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, a charming fairy and a mean ogre. Elegantly shot, the film weaves the characters and their stories together in a mysterious and lyrical fashion. Yonfan’s pristine touch as production designer seamlessly matches the vibrant light and colour of Chin Ting-chang’s cinematography. As a result, the film’s stunning look provides a stark contrast to the terror within the environment. As both an exquisite rhapsody of emotions and an intriguing historical account, Yonfan’s work is utterly unique. It charms, evokes and informs, perfectly capturing the confusion of adolescence, when the world is full of beauty one moment and immersed in darkness the next.

Directed by Yonfan | Starring : Hsiao-chuan Chang, Terri Kwan, Wing Fan, Kenneth Tsang, Jack Kao | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival

Advertisements

复仇 | Vengeance

Vengeance

What is vengeance if you can’t remember who it is you’re avenging? Isn’t memory what vengeance is all about? Vengeance is always personal, and usually results in at least a few more deaths than originally intended, many of them more than a little mordantly ironic. That’s part of what makes a revenge thriller thrilling, and Johnnie To’s terrific, slow-burn triad actioner Vengeance, adds a memory glitch to those thrills. Vengeance is a rich, fragrant reduction of To’s favorite themes (male bonding and codes of loyalty, the triad underworld, vengeance) trademarks (slow-motion clouds of blood, unforgettable set-pieces, impossibly sleek cinematography, brooding men, black humor) and actors. One splendid difference: Vengeance stars French actor and singer Johnny Hallyday (adding a nice tip of the chapeau to the French noirs of the ‘60s, when Hallyday had his rock and roll heyday). Hallyday plays François Costello, a Parisian restaurant owner who is in Macau at the request of his daughter—to avenge a savage attack on her family. Costello crosses paths with a crack team of triad hit men, whom he then hires to carry out his own revenge plan—a plan growing increasingly hazy due to his deteriorating memory. The craggy, lived-in face of Hallyday is as riveting as To’s mad scenes of mayhem, which include a fierce nighttime shootout as clouds pass over the full moon and—shootouts being To’s stock in trade—an epic battle in a junkyard that has to be seen to be believed. Vengeance, indeed, is a dish best served by Johnnie To.

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ka Tung Lam, Simon Yam, Suet Lam | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Oldenburg Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival

南京!南京! | City of Life and Death

City of Life and Death1

Nanjing, 1937. The third film from award-winning Sixth Generation director Lu Chuan, City of Life and Death is a devastating account of the massacre that occurred during the Sino-Japanese War when Japanese troops took the city of Nanjing in December 1937, a tragedy remembered as the Rape of Nanking. Shot completely in black and white, this powerful war drama unflinchingly captures the shocking violence and brutality of the Nanjing massacre, from the mass executions of POWs to the raping and slaughtering of civilians, while providing a deeply human portrait of both the victims and the perpetrators. Rendered in many shades of gray, City of Life and Death touches on the different people whose lives are destroyed by the war: the Chinese soldiers who gave their lives, the foreign missionaries who sheltered refugees, the comfort women, the Chinese civilians, and the Japanese soldiers. In a surprising move for a Mainland Chinese film about the Rape of Nanking, City of Life and Death is told primarily from the perspective of a Japanese soldier, who witnesses, commits, and abhors the atrocities of his army. By choosing to humanize rather than demonize, Lu Chuan offers an all the more devastating memory of the Nanjing massacre, and the people who lived and died in the City of Life and Death.

Directed by Chuan Lu | Starring : Ye Liu, Yuanyuan Gao, Hideo Nakaizumi, Wei Fan, Lan Qin | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, Athens Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival, London Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

梅兰芳 | Forever Enthralled

Forever Enthralled

Acclaimed Fifth Generation director Chen Kaige brings the tumultuous life of Peking Opera legend Mei Lanfang to the big screen in the highly anticipated biopic Forever Enthralled. The inspiration for Leslie Cheung’s character in Chen Kaige’s 1993 masterpiece Farewell My Concubine, Mei Lanfang was one of the greatest Peking Opera stars of modern China. An actor who specializes in female roles, he was renowned for his great beauty on stage and performed extensively around the world, famously introducing Peking Opera to Western audiences. Pulling viewers into a riveting world of musical allure and historical tumult in early 20th century China, Forever Enthralled follows Mei Lanfang’s amazing, inevitable rise to fame – from his bold challenges against his teacher as a teenager, to his US tour that brought New York to its feet, and finally to his refusal to sing during the Japanese Occupation period. Portrayed in youth by newcomer Yu Shaoqun and in adulthood by Hong Kong star Leon Lai, Mei Lanfang embodies the professional and emotional struggles of a man whose life belonged not to himself, but to the stage.

Directed by Kaige Chen | Starring : Leon Lai, Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hong Chen, Xueqi Wang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival

地下的天空 | The Shaft

The Shaft

In a mining town in western China, separately, we follow three members of a family. Each individual family members’ story flows from one to another chronologically, although they do not simply trace the continual development of a single family. There is the daughter who has to choose between her dreams and a suitable husband, the son who is about to start work down the mine, and the father who has just retired. Their lives are inextricably bound together as they symbolically represent the men and women from all mining towns who must accept their thwarted dreams and aspirations, and learn to accept their lot in life.

Directed by Chi Zhang | Starring : Deyuan Luo, Xuan Huang, Luoqian Zheng, Chen Li, Qiya Gong | Presented at Edinburgh Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Marrakech Film Festival, Sao Paulo Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival

红色康拜因 | The Red Awn

The Red Awn

Whenever the wheat becomes golden, thousands of floaters will leave their homes and migrate from one place to another to make a living by working in the wheat fields. A 50-year-old father leaves his wife and son in their hometown and, in order to make money, goes to the city for five years. The 17–year-old son grows up in the countryside alone. At summer’s end, the father returns and decides to drive the red combine during the harvest with his son. On their way, an irresponsible father and a resentful son try to rebuild their bond, to face their destiny.

Directed by Shangjun Cai | Starring : Lu Huang, Yulai Lu, Jianbin Chen, Shi Junhui, Hong Wang | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival

夜宴 | The Banquet

The Banquet

In 907 AD, the Tang Dynasty is in tatters; infighting snarls the imperial family. Crown Prince Wu Luan loves Little Wan, but his father takes her as his Empress. Wu Luan goes into exile, studying dance and music. His uncle murders his father, taking throne and Empress; uncle sends assassins to kill Wu Luan. The Crown Prince eludes death and comes to court. The Emperor arranges for Little Wan’s coronation and dispatches Wu Luan to a distant land; he then calls for a midnight banquet on the 100th day of his rule. Poison, treachery, Wu Luan’s return, and the love of the innocent Qing for Wu Luan set up the final entanglements. No Fortinbras or Horatio lay the dead to rest.

Directed by Xiaogang Feng | Starring : Ziyi Zhang, You Ge, Daniel Wu, Xun Zhou, Xiaoming Huang | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival