Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

Reviews Are In: Unanimous Praise for Crime and Punishment and Petition, Now Playing in New York

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Petition (dir. Zhao Liang)

Today is the first day of screenings for the indomitable Zhao Liang at Anthology Film Archives, and we couldn’t be happier with the press coverage so far. Here are some choice clips from reviews by New York critics for Zhao’s films Crime and Punishment (opening tonight at 6 and 9; additional screenings Saturday and Sunday) and Petition (starting tomorrow and screening daily at 6:30 and 9:30). More reviews and directions to Anthology after the break.

EMERGING FROM ARDUOUS, dangerous, in-the-trenches work, Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang‘s documentary investigations open onto the profound problems of a country often kept hidden by authorities. His interest is in the banal mechanics of systematic oppression: His remarkable debut Crime and Punishment (2007), for instance, provides a rare look into the People’s Armed Police, a branch of law enforcement similar to the military in its regimented lifestyle and coldly abusive administration of “justice.”

- Michael Joshua Rowin, ArtForum

Crime and Punishment (2007) follows the paramilitary People’s Armed Police on the beat, gaining extraordinary access to a station in the rugged, frigid Northeast, on the North Korean border. The staff of young officers – pettily prideful, swimming in their uniforms – is naive enough not to self-censor for the camera. They show as bullies, incompetent if not malicious, with their lone investigative technique a face-slap.

- Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice

Although it has its clear literary antecedents in Kafka and Bleak House, Petition‘s look at the arbitrary and corrupt nature of authority is of a specifically Chinese variety – not to mention the authentic stuff of actuality. A case of life imitating art – or rather art documenting life imitating art – Zhao Liang’s non-fiction film continues the director’s dissection of petty Sino-officialdom begun in his first film, Crime and Punishment. While that movie recorded the power abuses of soldiers policing the Chinese-North Korean border, Zhao’s latest film moves to Beijing to document the bureaucratic nightmare known as the petition system.

- Andrew Schenker, The L Magazine

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Play the Jia Zhangke 24 City East-West Match Game

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

24city1It’s always an event for us at dGenerate when a Chinese film enjoys a theatrical release in the United States, especially when it’s a film from Jia Zhangke. But Jia’s new film 24 City, which opened today in New York and will hopefully make its way across the country, is a particularly interesting case, because the film in some ways is a critique of itself as a international cultural product.

The issue of the different reactions between Western and Chinese audiences to Chinese cinema has been with us for at least since the first appearance of Zhang Yimou’s exotic period tragedies. But what’s striking about 24 City is how it seems to elicit different reactions across national borders by design. The film mixes non-professional subjects with professional actors portraying civilians, and films all of them in the same talking heads interview format as they relate the history of a run-down factory complex in Chengdu. Chinese audiences are bound to recognize the actors, while Americans are not, with the exception of Joan Chen and possibly Jia regular Zhao Tao. This is but the tip of a wedge driven between distinctly Chinese and non-Chinese experiences of reality and fiction by this groundbreaking work.

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