Posts Tagged ‘a.o. scott’

“The Power of Committed and Honest Cinema.” New York Times Reviews Petition and Crime and Punishment

Friday, January 14th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

Petition (dir. Zhao Liang)

A.O. Scott reviews Petition and Crime and Punishment in the New York Times.

The right of the people to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution phrases it, would seem to be a basic feature of the relationship between citizen and state. Even nondemocratic systems acknowledge the principle that the rulers should listen to the complaints of the ruled. Zhao Liang‘s “Petition,” a brave and wrenching new documentary from China, takes a bottom-up view of the cruel and absurd ways that lofty ideal is put into practice on the streets of Beijing.

Mr. Zhao’s camera is a stubborn, patient witness to some shocking scenes of bullying and intimidation, and he also offers a sympathetic ear to the ordinary people whose government hardly seems to care. “Petition” is an anthology of Kafkaesque anecdotes, most of them fragmentary, but what gives it shape and almost unbearable dramatic weight are the handful of stories the director pursues in detail.

“Petition” opens on Friday at the Anthology Film Archives, which is also presenting Mr. Zhao’s earlier feature, “Crime and Punishment.” That film, about the day-to-day work of military police officers, takes place far from Beijing, but its fine-grained insights into the workings of state power complement and complicate those seen in “Petition…” Together they offer eye-opening testimony both to the rigors of life in contemporary China and to the power of committed and honest cinema.

Read the full review.

Raves Across the Board for Ghost Town – Now Playing at MoMA

Monday, March 15th, 2010
The Mao Zedong statue of Zhiziluo salutes the New York film critics for their reviews of Zhao Dayong's <i>Ghost Town</i>

The Mao Zedong statue of Zhiziluo salutes the New York film critics for their reviews of Ghost Town

We couldn’t be more pleased with this trifecta of fresh reviews from New York critics on the eve of Zhao Dayong‘s Ghost Town‘s weeklong run at the MoMA.

A.O. Scott writes in the New York Times:

Zhao has an exquisite ability to balance words with images… The life stories and household interactions that fill out the film’s three chapters take place against a natural background that is shot beautifully… A miniature epic of the everyday.

Time Out New York‘s David Fear gives the film four stars:

Zhao Dayong’s extraordinary documentary on life in the rural village of Zhiziluo, nestled at the foot of the mountains in China’s southwestern Yunnan province. Never mind the nation’s great economic leap forward; the longer you watch Zhao’s chronicle of the financially destitute and the bureaucratically forgotten, the more you feel that you’re witnessing a country fraying at its edges.

Nick Pinkterton in the Village Voice:

I do not expect to soon find scenes to match Ghost Town‘s mountaintop funeral, the running along after a rowdy exorcism, or the scanning of faces at the town Christmas chorale. His back to prosperity, Dayong finds hallowed ground.

If you haven’t seen what the critics are raving about, make a beeline for MoMA this week. Schedule and ticketing info here.