West Lake Restaurant in South China's Changsha can safely call itself the biggest Chinese restaurant in the world, with its staff of 1,000 working 5,000 tables and serving no fewer than 150... See full summary »
West Lake Restaurant in South China's Changsha can safely call itself the biggest Chinese restaurant in the world, with its staff of 1,000 working 5,000 tables and serving no fewer than 150 ducks per day and 200 snakes per week. The words of the restaurant's staff and guests are used in the film to paint a picture of modern China: the proprietress, one of the city's 20 self-made millionaires, speaks candidly about her failed marriage; a bridegroom-to-be who is celebrating at the restaurant explains the modern Chinese customs associated with the wedding party; and a waitress visits her poor parents in the countryside. Through these scenes, we gain insight into the unique combination of the ancient religious values and the new capitalist values with which China is stepping into the 21st century. What becomes very clear is that not everyone is set to benefit from the economic boom. In an approach comparable to Jia Zhang-ke's in his portrait of a theme park called "The World," by focusing... Written by
In the end, a banquet restaurant is a banquet restaurant, whether it's in your working class hometown in the USA, or your working class hometown in China. Sure the food is different, but much is the same: the huge quantities, the hordes of staff, the maze of rooms with so many parties celebrating family events, the loud,corny DJ/MC conducting the rituals of the particular celebration, the backroom management, the sales pitches to prospective clients -- very familiar material if you ever worked in one of these places yourself.
TBCRITW maintains a sense of detachment, and thus come off as a documentary of operations at the most factual level. Add the personal story of the owner, a sharp, pragmatic, tough woman who tolerates no nonsense, and it is a decent portrait of a mammoth, family-owned and grown 'hospitality' business -- for better and for worse.
I felt sorry for the workers who seemed stuck, like any worker in a low-paying mass production facility. I'd love to see the same story, perhaps the 'real' story, inside this restaurant, from the folks who do the most basic functions of cooking and serving. That would be the really interesting, forbidden couterpoint to this story.
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