The Story Of Xinghua

The second feature (1994) of Sixth Generation mainland Chinese director Yin Lia project originated by screenwriter Shi Lingis a melodrama set in a village that’s next to the Great Wall in northern China: a wealthy and unscrupulous grocer purchases a wife hoping to have an heir and digs obsessively for a legendary treasure supposedly buried beneath one of the Great Wall’s watchtowers. The cast, headed by Jiang Wenli (the prostitute mother in Farewell My Concubine who severs her son’s finger to get him into opera school), is effective, and the ‘Scope cinematography is consistently attractive, but I found the film fairly routine, both as narrative and as drama. (JR)

Published on 01 Oct 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>

Fresh Bait

Though it’s remarkably well crafted, Bertrand Tavernier’s re-creation of the real-life exploits of three young Parisians (two guys and a girl) who cold-bloodedly murdered two men for their money in December 1993the female serving as sexual bait, the males carrying out the killingsleft me with a sour aftertaste. Tavernier seems to hate his youthful and remorseless characters too much to understand what makes them tick. There’s certainly plenty of intelligence here, and the avoidance of psychology has its benefits, but the script (by Tavernier and his frequent collaborator and ex-wife Colo Tavernier O’Hagen, working from a nonfiction book by Morgan Sportes) never transcends or even builds on its givens. Are we supposed to conclude that the trio’s enthusiasm for De Palma’s Scarface is somehow connected to their lack of soul? This painstakingly detailed docudrama, which won the grand prize at the Berlin film festival, commands some attention and respect; I just can’t go along with its antihumanistic attack on antihumanism. (JR)

Published on 01 Oct 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>

L’amore Molesto

A better-than-average Italian feature in black and white, directed by Mario Martone, about a grown daughter investigating her mother’s apparent suicide and discovering what her love life actually consisted of. It held my interest a couple of months ago, and some of the performances are strikingly lifelike. (JR)

Published on 01 Oct 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>