Kung Fu Fighting

Kung Fu Panda 2

When the first Kung Fu Panda was released in China, it caused an existential crisis. Chinese audiences marveled at how well Western filmmakers had understood Chinese culture, but deep down they all wondered the same thing: Why hadn’t this movie been made in China? In an thoughtful op-ed in China Daily, Chinese director Lu Chuan […]

In the Realm of Forms


But what about those “old” formal styles of film developed in Europe in the early decades of cinema? They’re still around; one of the distinctive qualities of American cinema is its quality of assimilation—it’s quite prone to taking influences outside itself and absorbing them. It took those European ideas and stripped them of their ideology (Hollywood’s appearance of a lack of ideology can be said to be an ideology of its own), deploying them because they can perform certain functions admirably. Where are you most likely to see collision montage, expressionism, and avant-garde elements in the supposedly-realistic sphere of mainstream Hollywood? Curiously enough, you see it in dreams.

Beijing Dreams

I’ve got a movie recommendation for everyone. It was recommended to me by my students who said they and their classmates were moved, sometimes to tears. It’s called Old Boy, not to be confused with the Park Chan-wook revenge thriller of the same name. The title could more accurately be translated as “the old boys” as in men who are still children at heart. The story deals with a very contemporary issue in China: the reconciliation of childhood dreams with realit

3D is the New Color

In The City (La ciudad), a 1999 drama film directed by David Riker, we get an unvarnished, unsentimental look at the plight of Hispanic immigrants in New York: language barriers, alienation and isolation, and abusive labor practices and lack of access to social services. Riker attempts to accurately reflect these experiences as they would happen in the real world, and uses non-actors and location photography to enhance this element. The City comes off as an utterly realistic film—and yet it is filmed in black-and-white.

Inception to Premiere in Mainland China September 21

It’s official!  Inception is hitting IMAX screens across the mainland on September 21, nearly 2 months after its release in Hong Kong.  There was some back-and-forth about whether the movie would be given one of the 20 slots reserved for foreign films each year but the release date has now been confirmed by the Associated Press […]

I Hate Kick-Ass

I know, I know. You’re all thinking I’m about to lay into the liberal splashes of claret resulting from Hit Girl’s slashfests as an example of the decay of cinema’s moral fiber. Well, you’re wrong. I don’t need to lay down any Roger Ebert-style preaching to pull the rug from under this colossal waste of time that has inexplicably grossed over $46 million and counting domestically. Kick-Ass, in my view, is the most overrated film of the last decade. Rather than just embark on a mindless, meandering rant, I will attempt to disprove some of the utter, utter drivel spouted in praise of this celluloid cockrot by using the critics’ words against them.

The Rabbit Hole

It’s been almost one month since Tim Burton became dead to me. For ten years I was a devoted follower of his work despite admonitions from friends and family that his movies were “weird.” There are more than enough reviews of Alice in Wonderland floating around the internet so all I will say is I was shocked that Alice is what Burton made with $200 million and no one seriously questioning him or trying to rein in his creativity. Honestly, had it been any other director, I would say it was an okay film; from Burton, it was not okay.