A high school valedictorian who gets baked with the local stoner finds himself the subject of a drug test. The situation causes him to concoct an ambitious plan to get his entire graduating class to face the same fate, and fail.
Follow the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin.
since the one posted yesterday apparently got censored...
A tamer version of my review in desensitized words:
Good film, could've been a great film.
A rather controlled and somber depiction of a dark chapter in modern history, subtly echoing another tragedy that happened 16 years later. Surprisingly un-judgmental and un-sentimental for a historical film recreating despair and lowest possible form of human existence.
Feng presents the multiple layers of clues and facts that lead to the ultimate tolls almost as-matter-of-factly, leaving the audience putting together the puzzles and drawing their own conclusions, which is a rather clever way of avoiding censorship and engaging the audience.
Could have been A LOT grittier and more affecting. The acting is powerful in this film. However for a film depicting a major famine that claimed over 3 million lives in recent history, not much huger is shown as visuals in the film, most of the lingering hunger is talked about/acted out (as opposed to being displayed visually) which reduces the general affecting power of the film.
Xu Fan and Zhang Guo-Li are amazing in this film with their acting. Xu gives her most powerhouse performance yet, portraying the tough bottom- feeder hillbilly b*tch who would attempt anything/everything in defending her and her family's rights to live. However for a country woman who's been starving for over 100 days and more than willing to sell her bottom half for a couple of crackers, what's with her double- chin? (think Jennifer Lawrence's face in The Hunger Game she can act all she wants but I'm sorry, girlfriend is just NOT that hungry) What TF happens to her makeup artist team and special visual effects people?!
Adrien Brody is effectively engaging as a very eager T.H. White who's desperately trying to expose the truth, whether driven by his journalist instincts, Pulitzer, or a genuine sympathy for the poor and depraved. However don't even get me to start with Tim Robbins - why is he even in the film??? The couple of scenes he's in are cringe-inducing. Even if you edit them out altogether it would not affect the story's flow whatsoever.
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