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A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
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23 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

An amazing journey, exploring human relationships and communications

10/10
Author: MrVintner from United States
5 November 2007

It is so refreshing to see a director (Wayne Wang) so courageously has his audience go through watching and listening to conversations in mixed dialogues exploring the "human relationships and communications" that goes beyond common language! There is an understanding that masterfully is being established during the movie with the audience, interestingly enough, the old man (Henry O) fails to establish this with his daughter, but it is being established with the audience, "with subtitles at times." Then the climax, the scenes/conversations in the park between an Iranian old woman (Vida Ghahremani) and the Chinese old man (Henry O) in mixed languages, Mandarin, Farsi, and English, "with No sub titles!" which the audience has no problem understanding it and it is fluent, enticing and absolutely delightful. This is an amazingly smart and fascinating movie with masterful acting, specially the old couple, the Iranian old woman (Vida Ghahremani) and the Chinese old man (Henry O). Warning: if you are looking for an Action or Kong Fu movie, this may not be your top choice.

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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A Fine Film Worthy of the Awards.

9/10
Author: reports88 from United States
17 March 2008

There is some warning in this story and it is well worth watching. Henry O performs admirably in his role as the watchful father that harbors his own secrets. His best intentions fall short of the mark and despite his efforts, life seems to follow a path that is not of his making.

The writer and author is revealed in the title. Just search on it. If you don't like stories like this or Samuel Beckets "Waiting for Godot" (all on a park bench) then don't watch it. I found the story humorous and uplifting but it saddened and worried me that the relationship between a father and his child will not get better.

This is a good film and deserves its awards.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Wayne Wang Returns To Form

9/10
Author: Seamus2829 from United States
7 December 2008

The films of Wayne Wang are an acquired taste. His early films,such as 'Eat A Bowl Of Tea','Dim Sum:A Little Bit Of Heart',and his best known film 'The Joy Luck Club' are meditations on the Asian lifestyle in the United States. If your tastes are aimed at explosions,car chases, mindless teen sex romps,bathroom humour,then avoid Wang's films at all costs. If you like a well written screenplay that doesn't dwell on car chases,explosions,toilet humour & all the rest that make for just another descent into the cinematic sewer,then you just may get your groove on with the films of Wayne Wang. Here,a elderly Chinese widower comes to the U.S. to visit his adult daughter (and try to run her life), while adjusting to the American experience (or at least trying to adjust). Toss in an attempted friendship with a widow from Iran,mix in some long hidden family secrets, and we have ourselves the formula for a real human drama. The cast,mainly made up of unknowns,make this slowly paced (but never boring)drama an alternative to the formulaic Hollywood garbage that always seems to be the centre of attention at the local multiplexes. No rating,but outside of the discreet mention of extra marital affairs,nothing to offend here.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A lifetime of daughter and father not being close can't be healed overnight

9/10
Author: kathleen-pangan from United States
17 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the preview for A Thousand Years of Good Prayer, which shows a Chinese man talking on a park bench with an Iranian women; both have problems speaking in English but they communicate and talk about their children. I thought it would be a nice heartfelt movie about two immigrants connecting. That was a part of it... but it was a lot more than that.

There is indeed a Chinese man; he is an old rocket scientist and is visiting his 30-some year old daughter in the U.S.; the problem is that they don't talk... almost at all. The setting is a pretty dull-looking suburban apartment complex, and the only thing to do is to go to a nearby park with some ducks. I had a feeling of depression throughout the whole movie. There isn't really anything momentously bad that happens in the movie; maybe it's that nothing huge happens at all and people are just not happy. It was very non-uplifting, especially as there is no clear resolution by the end. There are a couple funny parts, and some of it is pretty charming as it is a reflection of real life. However, I was expecting a very cute and fun feel-good movie, and it wasn't. It was a snippet of time in this family's life, about some pretty severe communication gaps and how difficult it is to heal a whole lifetime of lack of intimacy and hurt. Some wounds don't heal overnight, and some lessons can't be learned in a short period of time. The film has sincerely stellar acting, and it is serious in a very real way. I can't say I enjoyed the film and maybe it's because it hit too close to home, but I can say it was very good.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Stark but touching: the epitome of a small film done well

8/10
Author: intelearts from the big screen
19 June 2009

1000 years is a small film built on a simple premise: a Chinese father visits his daughter. He is nearing the end of life and the film is at all times reflective and quiet. His daughter is recovering from a bad divorce and they have never felt close. He arrives in America feeling alienated and the film centers around themes of reaching out and alienation. He makes friends in the park with an Farsi woman - they don't share language, but they share communication.

Of course, the journey they all take is in their conversations and silences is the film.

If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea then you won't enjoy this: however if you can let this wash over you it is surprisingly involving and beautifully rendered.

It is film for the mature, the small gestures and meanings of the words in different languages hold meanings within meaning but there is something implicitly human on display here.

Shot in natural tones with a washed out feel to it the cinematography lends much.

One to be savored and strongly reminiscent of Swedish cinema this is real film in one sense, but it fails in being too staged in places.

All in all a small film that will appeal to those who enjoy reality in film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Bit of a soap opera, with an endearing octogenarian lead.

4/10
Author: evening1 from United States
26 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this movie somewhat of a mixed blessing.

Henry O is likable as a concerned father visiting his cold-as-a-fish daughter, who has abandoned many of her Chinese traditions and lives a kind of sterile existence in Portland. Mr. Shi apparently worked too much under some harsh Communist conditions; some suspected him of having an affair with a co-worker though it never happened. Still, his late wife held all this against him and his daughter Yilan is still stewing over it.

Some of the best scenes in this film depict Mr. Shi and another foreign-born parent, Madam (Vida Ghahremani), struggling to commiserate with each other in English after having met by happenstance on a park bench.

As good as those scenes were, I'm not sure the plot and characterizations in this film hold together very well.

Toward the end of the film, Mr. Shi gets a little more pointed in his questions of his daughter. He's concerned that she's wasting her time on a married Russian man. Their getting below the surface in their dialogue somehow draws them closer together and in the end Yilan cracks a smile for the first time.

I guess we are supposed to see this as a breakthrough. But I found Yilan so unpleasantly monosyllabic that I really stopped caring much about her. It bothered me that Madam, a refreshingly vibrant presence earlier in the movie, gets whisked out of the story near its end. Her friend says she placed her in an assisted-living facility because her son had not wanted her moving in with him.

That made no sense to me...She was a sensitive and determined woman and I didn't see how a friend of hers could dispose of her in this fashion.

In the end I guess it smacked a bit of stereotyping against elders.

I'd heard good things about Wayne Wang's direction but this production was a mixed bag. As a student of Mandarin, though, I greatly enjoyed the beautifully articulated conversations between father and child. The meals Mr. Shi whipped up looked delicious as well!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It has no conflicts

4/10
Author: jackasstrange from United States
9 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here a perfect example of a boring film.

It starts out strong, the first twenty minutes or so are somehow interesting and perhaps a good character development... we have this old man, trying to deal with his loneliness, with a struggling relationship with his daughter. Then this theme lasts forever. Literally no conflicts happens in this film. All of it seems pointless, and apparently the highest point of this film is nowhere near of being interesting. This coming from someone that can stand really boring films. So i am not exaggerating about it, trust me. The boredom in this film is beyond the acceptable limits by far.

Maybe i am not in the perhaps small 'targeted' group of audience of people that are 60 years old or more, but frankly, i am just warning about 99% of the people in this world that are not in the targeted audience to stay away from the film.

But yeah, those who have a grandpa do know that this film is very truthful to reality. It depicts the loneliness and the struggles that a 'old' person suffers when 'changes the ambient that he/ she is used to live. Real deal here. Very realistic.

But all in all, the climax don't does nothing to me. It is just about some pointless revelations explaining why the 'quiet' behavior of both the father and daughter. Not mildly interesting.

The technical aspects in this film are generic at best. Not worth to mention.

Skip this film and avoid an inevitable headache. 3.7/10

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Generation gap

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
3 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An older Chinese man is seen arriving at an airport in an unspecified American city. His daughter, Yilan, is there to meet him. They have not seen each other in years. Their encounter is not exactly a warm one. It is clear the two have grown apart. Yilan has been living in American for some time. She has made a somewhat nice life for herself in her adopted country. Yilan lives in one of those sterile condominium complexes where everything looks cold.

Mr. Shi, as the father is known, speaks some English; he jots down new words he sees, but he lapses into his own language, when he cannot find the right words to express himself. He does not appreciate the way his daughter is living. Going through her things, he discovers she has fondness for Russian things, like the Matryoshka dolls she keeps on top of her dresser. Mr. Yi feels his daughter is not eating properly, so he begins to cook meals that are hardly touched by Yilan.

The old man goes out to a nearby park just to get out of the apartment. He happens to meet a lovely Iranian lady who is also living a similar experience as Mr. Shi. Even though they cannot speak fluent English, they manage to talk about many things. The lady is of a certain age, she is proud of having come to America, leaving the chaotic world of her native country behind. She is also grateful to be living with her doctor son in a nice environment. One day she stops coming to the park, so one of her friends stop by the bench to inform Mr. Shi the Iranian lady is now living in a Seniors' home, something that surprises the old man.

Yilan is not too happy with the new addition in her life. She has been secretly avoiding her father to stay away from the apartment. Coming home late one evening the truth emerges. Yilan has been seeing a Russian colleague who happens to be married. He has a family back home; it is obvious the affair is over. When Mr. Shi questions her about what he learned, she becomes defensive. She goes on to accuse her old man to have lived a lie all his life. What's more, Yilan knows he had cheated her mother with a mistress. Years of bitterness surfaced between father and daughter. Finally, Mr. Shi decides to explore whatever he can from the country he is visiting riding trains to get to his destinations.

A lovely story based on stories by Yiyun Li is explored by director Wayne Yang, whose films have delighted movie going audiences for the way this creator views complex situations, mainly involving Chinese characters and culture. The film is basically a study about two generations that have grown apart. The older father, has stayed in his native country, China, where he felt his work was needed, in spite of his troubled past within that society. Yilan, in contrast, adapted well to her new country, viewing the situation with her family with different eyes. She has a new set of values, but keeping some of her native culture alive. The arrival of the father puts a strain in Yilan's life. Suddenly, her world begins to crumble right in front of her eyes; she begins to resent the intrusion in her home of a man she does not even relate to, anymore.

Beautifully acted by Henry O as Mr. Shi, and Feihong Yu, who is seen as Yilan. The generation and culture gap are clearly the focal point in their relationship. Vida Ghahremani makes a good contribution as the only friend Mr. Shi finds in his new surroundings.

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Pointless Family Drama that Goes Nowhere

6/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
25 February 2011

The retired rocket scientist Mr. Kun Shi (Henry O) arrives in the United States of America to visit his daughter Yilan (Feihong Yu), who moved twelve years ago from China to America with her husband Keming and now is divorced. Mr. Shi tries to approach to his estranged daughter and expect to help her to find another husband. Meanwhile he befriends an Iranian old lady (Vida Ghahremani) in a park, and despite their language barrier and difficulties, they meet each other everyday. When Mr. Shi sees his daughter with the Russian Boris (Pasha D. Lychnikoff) late night, they finally have a honest conversation with each other.

"A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" is a pointless family drama that goes nowhere. The story has a promising beginning with the encounter of an old Chinese with his estranged daughter and with an Iranian woman, but the plot and subplots are not well resolved and are cold and emotionless. Maybe if I had had a lesser expectation, I could have liked this little film more. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Mil Anos de Orações" ("A Thousand Years of Prayers")

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17 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

More like ten thousand

1/10
Author: rrfrank from United States
25 October 2007

This movie felt like it lasted over 1,000 years. A really bad soap opera masquerading as a meaningful family "drama" exploring generational and cultural barriers. There is not one genuine moment in its bloated running length. An anamorphic screen image can't disguise what an amateurish production this is – the acting is especially laughable. Story in a nutshell: elderly Chinese man comes to The States to visit his daughter. The father is hoping (and pushing) to become a grandfather. Pathos and a lot of moping ensue. Yawn. The void between father & daughter is played out in interminable dinner scenes. The only thing more boring are the excruciating park bench pidgin English dialogue scenes between the father and an Iranian woman he befriends. Daughter's Russian boyfriend is a cardboard cutout of a joke – like everyone in this epic. And oh yeah, the most unintentionally hilarious line of the movie, "You were never a rocket scientist."

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