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Lu bian ye can (2015)
Man returns to past places, people, and memories.
KAILI BLUES: A DEMANDING, STUNNING EXPERIENCE
KAILI BLUES is an extraordinary film .not just a good first feature, not just a good independent Chinese film. but an imperfect dazzling masterpiece.
Audiences who watch normal films bring strong ideas of what makes effective, satisfying storytelling. I came expecting another good festival art film from China, yet even as a film director/critic, it took me 45 minutes to suddenly realise and understand what the director was brilliantly achieving with fresh cinematic language and vision. From then on I was mesmerised and deeply moved.
This film doesn't satisfy cinematic art or entertainment preconceptions .It is unique, thrilling personal cinema, that communicates on different conscious and subconscious levels, conceptually, visually, emotionally.
BI GAN, the very young film director/poet in his 20s, is already an honest, open, accomplished artist, with well-deserved self-confidence (ego firmly in-check), dynamic creative ambitions, and skills to accomplish them. I don't want to burden him with this, or sound pretentious and preposterous but I couldn't help flashing on Orson Welles during "Citizen Kane".
Wang Tianxing's cinematography was stunning, perfectly merging with the dynamic style and viewpoints of the story. No matter how many camera persons were used or their professional experience, everything flowed seamlessly emotionally. The magical 41-minute single moving shot is as revolutionary as Sokurov's landmark "Russian Ark," with greater psychological and emotional resonance. Memory, fantasy, and reality weave through and around each other.
Film crafts and cinema language are used smoothly and very effectively: visually powerful rural locations in Kaili, Guizhou Province, China (used with subtlety and respect), "costumes" (real lived-in clothes), props (from real homes and villages). Production design, sound, and editing are all creatively professional.
The Producers did a remarkable job during pre-production, shooting, and post-production, because there must have been daily stressful problems to overcome.
The actors 99% non-professional - are perfectly cast and directed. Chen Yongzhong's memorable presence holds together all the wonderful characters in the 110-minute film.
Traditional Chinese, Miao, children's song, local band, actor's song, new music, and terrific end credit duet, are all evocative and touching.
KAILI BLUES should be seen at least two times, and discussed by film students in every international serious film school, and by audiences who are passionate about cinema in all countries within and outside China.
(Since this is a glowing review, I must say that I have absolutely no connection with the film or anyone who made it.)
Mei zhen (1994)
Sentimentally Manipulative, but Surprising Masterwork
May Jane, an uneducated but courageous country girl, escapes her destroyed farming village. She tries to lead a large band of orphans through the absurdity and violence of civil war (between Mao and Chiang Kai-Shek's KMT) to a ship that will bring them to safety from China in the 1940's. Extremely sentimental, brilliant, subtly rebellious cinema by the Taiwan/Hong Kong Director, who also wrote the exquisite music and intimately epic plot. Despite a number of terrific performances (including the gorgeous star, made-up to look ordinary) and sophisticated stunning cinematography, the film was unjustly dismissed by Taiwan critics, many of whom apparently harbored old antagonisms toward the director, as well as by both Hollywood-influenced young and patriotic old audiences (ending the composer/director's long successful career). This highly personal, uniquely old-fashioned and visionary film has many long sequences of superb artistry and sustained master filmmaking skill.
Harry's Law: American Dreams (2011)
American DREAMS is outstanding.
"American Dreams" on HARRY'S LAW is a truly great American script, whether for television or film. Speaking as a screenwriter/director and film professor, it is stunning work. The balancing of political and emotional POVs, using reason, pragmatism, philosophy, and raw emotions, is rare on TV, and was perfectly sustained in all three story lines (drama, romance, melodrama) for almost an hour. Sensitive inner performances from all the supporting and character actors matched the high level of the writing. Kathy Bates and Christopher McDonald were wrenchingly superb, even without words. Director Steve Robin's seemingly invisible direction allowed every dramatic point and character change to clearly shine. The show, and this episode in particular, are more than worthy of the next Emmys, Writer's Guild Awards, and if it were possible, Oscars. David E. Kelley has outdone himself, and deserves our deepest professional, artistic, and humanist respect.