L’Ennue & Red Sorghum : Film Meaning in Lockdown

L’ennui (boredom)

Film 1998

Lost in Paris

The lack of energy in a city renowned for its vitality is amazing even in the late nineties when this was made. The slow pace of Paris is contrasted with a frantic abusive controlling relationship with an older man “you can see a bed but not a personality” Cecilia (Sophie Guillemin tells Martin (Charles Berlin) as this is seen natural in a disarming drama of societies values and morals. It looks crude and ott with no good things on offer.

Moral – If your bored it’s your own fault!

Strange secrets

Mad and Bad

Martin is a mad philosopher behaving as a bully with fits of jealousy when he becomes infatuated with a young intelligent actress. Cecilia is making her skills work across her world. It doesn’t slow down their sexual appetites but intensifies it. A little death every time.

Empire review synopsis is almost perfect (later I raise some historical concerns) in its vision.

Self interest

From Empire Review this extract ‘As the philosopher who has almost eradicated sensibility from his life, Berling expertly combines curiosity, lust and despair as he loses control of his intellect. But it’s Sophie Guillemin who provides the truer portrayal, with a display of dispassionate adolescent volition that is almost capricious in its innocence.’ David Parkinson Empire 1998

Obsessions in different periods

There is also an observation of French films of this period being observed as obsessed with copulation.

It is what reviews ought to do and challenges through cinema self mockery the genius of our accepting art film as moral guidance while at the same time is obviously a dark morose triangle, at times voyueristic. It’s a surprise there is so much sex but souls are also bared. Also obvious is the lack of guile in the young woman who is confused and unable to reject the enabled freedom she is locked into.

This review https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/lennui-review/

Conclusions

It’s a functional fast moving film with few surprises navigating an earlier time, and almost provides an obsession philosopher/psychiatrist R D Laing would love, as it becomes in mood a retreat to the streets where in the 19th and previous centuries a large part of the female population were forced into being sexual objects satiating a powerful male run society. Their is even a crudely placed appearance of that industry with unreal and contrite conclusions. It leaves the screen with Cedric Khans Cecilia lost.

The David Parkinson Empire Review has insightful parts though even it is caught in the sexual prominence the film uses. This for example, …..

‘Initially baffled by how such an unprepossessing kid could have enslaved so cultured a man, Martin is soon besotted with her, too.’ He passes on the ‘use’ the ‘cultured man’ has made of a vulnerable girl.

He also has habits of the time with this extract.

A Parisian professor becomes sexually enslaved by a monosyllabic teenager.

These words are vile and judgemental for any reviewer to summarise the complexity of youth.

David Parkinson arrives at the same rating

3###

Red Sorghum a story from 1919

The way this ancient story deals with love and betrothal is again with the women of principle young girl auctioned off by her family to a wealthy man nearly four decades her senior and he is riddled with leprosy.

Traditions

Opening scenes introduce us to the girl she travels enclosed in a red sedan with four bearers who lead by a paid bodyguard. They make the journey jolting her on her way and along with six singers pipers, are going through the red Sorghum fields. Tall reeds of corn stalks conceal the imported grains secrets. Wine is made from the gluten free Jowar grain.

The fields stretch beyond the horizon and huge blue skies dominate the curvature of the Qingshako province removed from the cities and relying on this highly nutritious food.

Twists of fate and government control shapes how they live.

Director Zhang Yimou on set

Plant with healing binding properties

Little wonder its benefits allow for some diversions. Rich in protein iron and copper, this gluten free grain has been known to play a crucial role in cellular function and repair. The rich quantity of potassium and phosphorous helps lower cholesterol and manage high blood pressure. Jowar grain is rich in fibre and hence should be part of your daily diet.

Sorghum field

A cup of jowar has 22 grams of protein.

Jowar has essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It is loaded with good amounts of calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorous, potassium and cell-building B vitamins.

Red Red Wine

The young girl believes she is ill. The community tell her “Sorghum wine kills all germs”.

Red Sorghum wine becomes the source of goodness for the community as they revive the winery. The cooperative practices the rest of society lacks is found in abundance selflessly. It is out with the old and in with the new.

Zhang Yimou examines the future,

In a way as this film was made while the renewal of China and the course taken since, it forms revalue the optimism this period that had gone along with imperial imperfections that were to suppress the Chinese later.

Almost a replication of the revolution. The time China is now in as a fascist undemocratic is far removed from the filmmakers writers vision of the true meaning of Communism or his providing expression of what might be.

His vision as a filmmaker is within a culture devoid of a revolution, and he shows a community is basically only as far as the horizon and that’s all it need be and visitors would be neighbours not family.

Zhang Yimou sees the power structures in the world and shows us the character of the girl Little Nine becomes an equal in her new environment and circumstances. She comes with qualities unfamiliar to the men in the community. This is a rebirth not just of the cooperative and communism but a lesson in human values base and real.

Tiananmen Square

Known as a Fifth Generation Director, Zhang Yimou was seeing a wave of predetermining Maoism, that would follow the eventual defeat of the Japanese. The Fifth Generation he belonged to suffered from the forced outcomes that came from the Chinese tragic and inexcusable massacre in Tiananmen Square, of their own, among them student’s, women, elderly and children. I know I’ve seen the unaltered pictures in the Royal Destival Hall.

When this was made it won the Berlin Film Festival Award in 1988 one year before the wall came down. Did it inspire that long awaited act?

Won the Golden Bear at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival.

Royal Festival Hall had extremely disturbing images of the massacre in 1989 on its first floor out of the usual public view, routes. Seen on the way to performance.

As Germany was to take down the wall thus became a symbol as Tiananmen Square symbolised with it’s bloodbath suppression the opposite direction China was heading.

Within the film there is the exploitation by a militia gangster element who know no morals and act as a barrier to the freedoms asserting themselves within the community. The Sangou are against liberty and intimidate by spoiling progress.As Angela Merkel planted her Eastern German feet in the liberal capitalist machinery of West Germany she ritualised the false premise of wealth gathering as the epitome of human endeavour.

Red Sorghum makes a story of nature’s abundant giving, when respected. Becoming a catalyst for harmony but the ceremony of seasons are trivialised by the love lorn former bodyguard who demolishs all goodness in a feature of brokenness. The triangle is of a young girl, her betrothal to a much older man, the uncirculated jealousy. Meanness from a the bodyguard initially paid to protect her is met by her rejection of his base and controlling ways.

Fixed

Just as L’Ennue was full of poor treatment of women this again goes into the barbed relationships routinely faced. French films had their sojourn in the ‘69 spawning of tales of revolution, wild ambition alongside female intuition were contests then. Here is another such battle, and a decade or so on the French have abandoned that for ‘the philosophers angst’ and a base treatment of women as this reflects the ‘eighteen mile hill’ high above the plains in China so a community in isolation is not safe from its own inherited demons. One brutality is followed by more and the red becomes a symbol of occupation, oppression and waste.

This story really concerns the imperialism of neighbours devouring hope. It’s as if the brutality is customised by race. Here the Japanese destroy thousands and show bitterness divides. The combination of evil and oppression is mirrored across red lines.

Zhang Yimou has as the Empire review link below – this interpretation – ‘The disease-ridden winery owner (to whom Jiu’er was exchanged for a mule) clearly represents the corrupt Ching dynasty that was toppled in 1911, while the emphasis on collective action suggests the nation’s predetermination for the Maoism that would triumph just five years after the vanquishing of the Japanese.’

Zhang Yimou

Making such a film debut with writing and concepts that are politically charged is astonishing when you consider the interrogation of an emerging China within a global context.

Author Hóng Gāoliáng Jiāzú; lit.: ‘red sorghum family’) is a Chinese language novel by Mo Yan. Published in 1986, it was Mo’s first novel and remains one of his best-known works.

Stunning scenery

There are times when the cinematography reverts to a tonal black. When silent compliance under a form of penitence or servitude is embarked on. The contrast are raw in ceremonial playing out of the forbearance, of their kin, like a stage drama. A dance in a non existent universe.

Conjuring tricks evoking thoughts like babettes feast are played out, or the last supper. The wine brought to the table as a cure for all ill. Another memorial is recalled.

In a local Church a wall ‘viamold’ sculpture by Rosamund Praeger shows a man in non military attire with a snake at his feet looking across a valley to a a large house hill as the Church remembers the two world war victims. The belief is Rosamund Praeger got the image from the Irish image of the famine, a sketch with a hovel where the solider stands and across a valley on a hill the landlords house.

natural corona eclipse

The embossed text reads ‘Press on’ words that are repeated in the film. Like the future a corona eclipse sends us the message the laws of the universe are to be obeyed. It appears in the film as a visual reminder of higher things and beyond horizons that must be returned to.

A reviewer stuck in recent boredom (L’Enneu again) thought two recent pieces he’d read, Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem and Bill McKibbens’s Falter, explored if we are “hard-wired” (somehow) for empathy/altruism.

The book Babettes Feast holds a community around the one table with outsiders among the gathering.

Martine the convent caretaker says, “Now you will be poor the rest of your life“,Babette replies, “An artist is never poor.” It is set in Jutland in 19th-century Denmark. Again an isolated community.

Written in 1950 post ww2 it examines humanity – “And it happened when Martine or Philippa spoke to Babette that they would get no answers, and would wonder if she had even heard what they said Orshe would sit immovable on the three-legged kitchen chair, her strong hands in her lap and her dark eyes wide open, as enigmatical and fatal as a Pythia upon her tripod…..”

You couldn’t get more isolated than a convent and here the symbolism of a women’s retreat is evoking simple rules for simple pleasures.

Isak Dinesen the writer of this short story had been a five star chef in Paris, having sought political asylum in Denmark.

Open palms. The resurrection as a film is simultaneously in the period when the Berlin Wall came down, when Red Sorghum was made.

Cinema seeks to capture the zeitgeist of one period through another and act as a unifier of our perceptions and thoughts stimulated by instant immersion. The immediacy is without an instance, until this form of review or after film discourse takes place, and often carrying the plain speaking superficial meanings around at the time. Or like my own choice of best ever film, Ordet, untangles a whirlwind of thought and discovery.

Conclusion

Through this period of forced reflection during the Covid 19 epidemic it has thrust us forward into needing reference points evaluating what we know, what really is and how the future is part of our own making.

Red Sorghum is seen in a wide lens also. The table is a constant source with wine central to the sharing and its properties are teased in so many processes just as life’s forces. The intoxication taking over and many succumbed to its altered energy.

Zhang Yimou is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer. He is part of the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, having made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum.

The Empire review below sums up the political point here –

‘But it represented life and death, birth and renewal, and the physicality and humanity of the villagers as much as it did the Party’ – is how the Empire review sums it up as a forceful political essay.

From the Empire review –

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/red-sorghum-review/

is this extract –

By setting the story in the barren wilderness around the north-eastern Gaomi Township, Zhang departed from the lush southern landscapes that Beijing preferred to see extolled on screen. He also depicted his protagonists in a far from idealised light, as he permitted them to indulge their basest instincts, right down to urinating in the wine vats (which, ironically, improved the flavour). Moreover, by allowing the only avowedly Communist character to perish at the hands of the invading imperialists, Zhang also suggested that the workers resisted their tyranny through their own innate heroism, just as their own labour and ingenuity had revived the fortunes of the winery.

https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Geography_of_China.html?id=tfVN0Gwx67YC

5#####

John Graham

30 June 2020

Belfast

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This was reviewed after seeing the films again on a domestic screen and still the magic of Cinema creates feelings never touched on by the ingenuity of the creative community. The genius of Cinema is often traumatised by badly conceived forms and weird unrecognisable scripts. But story and the human psyche is a minefield of conflicting ideas. Tread carefully and Be Safe.

Containment : A Film Review


Containment

Just this past week the Hinckley Point, Somerset, Nuclear reactor was given the go-ahead on behalf of the United Kingdom population, by Theresa May, Prime Minister, following a false standoff with Chinese and French providers since her elevation internally by a group of her party seeing her fit to govern us, a new found ability to take decisions. This is a decision which should never have been made to be taken. With the daily occurrence advances in battery technology and solar power retention and storage from that huge object we know as the Sun, it is within a very short time very likely we will individually at our homes or collective of homes have our own power stations. Nano transformation of energy which allied to similar advances in motive power shall also have an effect of reducing carbon output. Berlin is now a zero carbon city for example so where are the British in this revolution?

Documentary

Containment A Film made in 2015 by Directors, Peter Galston and Robb Moss. It is film documentary on Nuclear waste production and storage. The USA/Japan co-production brings forward the extent of Nuclear waste currently abroad in what is basically a state of deadly toxic limbo.

Getting to screen it.

Interested in bringing Containment to your community, conference, festival or campus? Share your details here at containmentmovie.com or email us (them!) at containment@filmsprout.org, and we’ll (they’ll!) be in touch right away!


Framework
The first frames show Fukishima and a woman walking alone seen by the cameraman/woman surveying the limbo state this empty city has become. It alone needs a containment scenario this film addresses elsewhere in the Art graphic animation discourse for a place in the USA. New Mexico. When did the first scenario arise?

It begins by pointing to the Cold war period after the second word war, when nuclear warheads were accumulated and agreements placed to disarm these weapons of destruction by putting them into vast radioactive ‘landfill’ sites comprising mainly a site in New Mexico whose irrational acceptance as a location for a nuclear waste dump defies logic. The terrain was chosen primarily because of its geological fingerprint. It was a location with a vast unique strata of salt which millennia had proven stable and a medium in which a frozen ‘time’ capsule could be maintained. It had the hallmarks of having the capacity of being an enevelope for storing the radioactive sludge. However the bunds and lagoons created on top of it were and still are reservoirs of storage for a hundred million gallons of toxic waste. This means of storage is but one part of the cycle which includes other non-associated methods which involve inward shipping of nuclear waste in vessels – carefully checked when transport protection is removed for leaks. Each vessel is thoroughly x-rayed for casing integrity. Watching the magic gieger-counter being waved by an operative circling each container begged the question had they replaced the batteries in it. From this part of the process it then went sub-strata via. a long passage of tunnels by vehicle to hopefully it’s final resting place and presumably back filled at some juncture. Other processes included pouring liquid nuclear waste via. robotic arms manually operated into glass containers. Giant Kindle jars of high tech composition presumably.


The only problem is they remain mostly in their last location since a shut-down after a freak accident when a material failure allowed leakage to occur from a container – it’s past x-Ray and scrutiny failing to identify ahead of time any possible flaws or defects – which in turn jeopardized operatives and future containment activities. The decision was to put the entire site under lockdown and begin a clean up operation estimated at the time to be in the region of $300 million dollars or was that billions? In any event nowhere on earth is capable of storing the material waste China America Middle Eastern and European countermoves have plans to accumulate never mind that already stockpiled and in state of transition limbo.


Deep concerns

The film is concerned with not only the accumulation as well as a key part the Fukushima meltdown catastrophe which we are shown in its raw elemental state as a no-go locality but with the figurative signaling beyond our times into periods frankly inconceivable, ten thousand years hence and multiplications thereof. The means of alerting ‘others’ unaware of the backstory our history are explored in real time exercise a of futurist projections. Cockamamie American pawn brokering is one way of describing it. Put it in as a trade and see if any idiot will buy it.


The film becomes cartoon depictions crudely fascinatingly naive ventures of our humanity expressed as a vent diagram and delineation of rogue versus alien versus well the ordinary Joe or Jane whose curiosity got the better of them. Pictorial semaphore signals as used by pirates might have easily substituted or maritime signals heralded by symmetry as unnatural presence of danger put in place by those previously occupying earth. Ie. Humans.


Other reviews.

How do you plan 10,000 years in advance? Containment asks whether we are adequately caring for future generations with current storage methods for radioactive waste. A visit to the nuclear ghost towns of Fukushima shows what will happen if we fail.

—Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian

Peter Galison and Robb Moss remind us of the lingering threat of radioactive waste. What to do with it? How can we warn people centuries in the future about the danger of waste disposal sites? With inventive animation and incisive reporting, Moss and Galison aren’t going to make it any easier to sleep at night.

—Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

The film…attempts to articulate the beautiful and complicated problem of how to render the future a part of the present. It offers glimpses of a future beyond our societal imagination…and goes beyond ordinary documentary filmmaking to bring forward this future image into the minds and sensibilities of its viewers. It is in attempting this communication with the audience beyond the here and now that the film has its greatest success.

—Zoe Jones, Spook Magazine

I admire Containment for its zealous questioning of a situation that is ignored, misunderstood, and obviously—thanks in part to this film—urgent. I’ve been thinking about 10,000 years from now ever since.

—Erin Trahan, WBUR’s The ARTery and The Independent Magazine

The way we tell stories about who we are, what we did and how we considered the consequences of our actions is moving and profound in Containment, told with investigative care, sadness, fury and poetry.

—Andrew Lattimer, heyuguys.com


Three titles making their world premieres at Full Frame garnered plenty of buzz…Containment, Peter Galison and Robb Moss’ latest documentary, also taps into another controversy magnet—nuclear power. The directing duo aren’t strangers to hot-button topics. Their 2008 Sundance hit Secrecy chronicled the massive efforts by the U.S. government to classify data from the general population. Containment, about the scientific, moral and philosophical problems that surround the disposition of nuclear waste, is sure to spark a national debate.

—Addie Morfoot, Variety

Alarmingly frank but refreshingly optimistic, Containment tells a great many inconvenient truths but its coda assures us that all is not lost. The future will come, but we will endure.

—Phil W. Bayles, oneroomwithaview.com

Where did I see it? – this list shows its progress.

Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace, Pittsburgh, PA — August 5, 2016

Pilgrim Legislative Advisory Coalition, Jones River Landing, Kingston, MA — August 20, 2016

CBK Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands — September 3–November 27, 2016

Virginia Tech Research Center, Arlington, VA — September 8, 2016

Case Western Reserve University, Physics Department Colloquium, Cleveland, OH — September 15, 2016

Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast, UK — September 17, 2016

Department of History, Brown University, Providence, RI — September 21, 2016

Willard Straight Theatre, Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY — September 27, 2016


Conclusion ###3

A loose three is attributed to this as the central theme of Containment is heavily here approached using an Art based form of narrative.  This in itself is a very lame element.  It practically philosophies about different advanced and abstract notions.  It focuses while doing this on the processes involved in capture storage and transportation to a location with interviews, protocols of public meetings and the personalities in ‘local’ politics making huge global impacting decisions.  Maybe the highest rank of Government was County Official.  No Presidential, No Congressman, No State Govenor is addressed.  Why not?  Didn’t want to speak? Unsuprisingly? So instead why not make cartoon versions of supposed dialogue and their answers to the Containment question so artistically examined?  Except the artistic endeavors are in my mind not even at the level of a third year student of Architecture whose grasp would no doubt evaluate the obvious pros-cons of symbolic gestural, linguistic, extra-terrestrial scenarios and much more as established throughout mainstream sci-fi non-fictional examinations and the plethora of commentary overloading the Internet from one campus to the Daily News in Singapore or Daily Comet in New York.

Point Blank Failings

I am afraid it lets the fundamental differences of responsibility being attributed to the decisions made in Nations which ignore this Containment issue.  The commentary is not validated while a ‘Nuclear’ Authority speaking as a Police(woman) whose role oversaw protocols and practices came nowhere close to the target.  A question of where possible ‘dangers’ – the plain direction of the conversation marked out terrorism as a principle if not top concern, – got lamely tossed back as ‘Couldn’t possibly answer/speculate!’ kind of moderation the film should not even allow as any direction of investigative informative journalism.
Take a look at the website for additional and valuable source material as the film is only part of a projected discourse and is a beginning – as far as ‘multiple locations’ arise by example through the stark reality of Fukishima.  Mr Nissan is interesting and in a semi-comatose state as his life is Groundhog Day – this is an insight in itself but only, only a miniscule part of what is required to be examined and dealt with by Governments and activists post UN interventions which are of a Human Disater reactive kind not fundamentally addressing ongoing Nuclear exploitation for Billions of dollars/yen/euros of Business.  It’s about the money stupid.
John Graham

21 September 2016

Belfast.

Lilting : A Film Review

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Director: Hong Khaou, cast: Ben Whishaw, Cheng Pei Pei, Naomi Christie, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles, : 1hr 31mins
Six Characters Bound Together.

Around Grief
This film is a chamber piece in the sense it contains its story in a tightly bound cast.
Pivotal is Kai (Andrew Leung) who is killed by a car as he is walking to meet his mother, the Chinese-Cambodian mother Junn (Cheng Pei Pei)
Richard (Ben Whishaw) is introduced as the partner of Kai.
This unsettling event turns everything upside down.
Grief is overwhelming to Richard as he dresses in some of Kai’s clothes and draws himself closer to his unknown almost, nemesis Junn whose own world is now without family or domestic reference with her still being in the sheltered manor house chosen as a temporary refugee.
The three had shared a house, Richard as a housemate. Kai has placed his own imprint on.

It is a split level cut back to the brick Camden Lock type location. Kai is confident hence the imprint which is only partially Chinese in character with line drawing prints.
His identity is sharply European Chinese while Richard relies on his sense of self and internalises his British character. His way with things is however intense and some have called this magnetic.
It so happens the confines of this MICROWAVE budgeted film, apparently made for £120,000, are life as bonsai.The BBC Films might account for some lead funding. Few locations are used and the pace is very sedate.
The cast is strong and Kai’s mother Junn has an awful time with this strange country the family arrived in many years back.
Language is a silent barrier
Unbeknownst – language is the most infuriating part of their lives, all of their lives, it is intensely suffocating in a lot of the film – Junn has no inkling of her sons predisposition which itself is not normal but possibly cultural.
To Junn, Richard and Kai’s relationship is not the “best friends” tag used often.
England as Pastoral.
The home she stays in is semi rural with a sweeping drive and lawns.
It actually could be off Hanger Lane or up to esturial Essex is so Manor House pastiche.
Hong Khaou insists on showing several quite still frames of frosted fields and trees linear and controlled edging a sweet comforting vision of this England. Junn mentions how Kai’s father thought the NHS and clean water were heaven sent. There is this adoration but this is a frozen picture of life here and it is for Junn almost a vacuum.
The saxifrage family of plants are touched upon again symbolic.
Like the aspidistra is symbolic of Lancashire house plants in seedy lodgings run by lacey landladies.
Mixed Flashbacks
With Kai having died the story has to make him the central character in absentia and the relationships with his mother and Richard are frequently revisited. The effect to begin with disturbs the progress of elements often making it ‘stilted’ and a broken cadence which only improves as pieces of the small number of characters bring tone and their own presence after the first cluster of pieces. Kai has temporarily moved his mother into a sheltered time shifted, 50’s, shared manor house savouring the period of the occupants youth with G plan furniture and few modern signals.
Junn is like a Koi fish swimming in circles around surreal features and odd people doing crosswords and reading pat fiction.
Lothario in Flannels (those trousers with a permanent crease)
Time hangs heavy and when Kai visits Junn’s dislike of the best friend is strongly divisive in their already troubled relationship it exposed the isolation felt by Junn.
Kai has no real answer except the promise of this arrangement being temporary. She mentions the fellow house mate, an Englishman, Alan, (Peter Bowles) one oddly sympathises with this fulsome actors appearance as a nearly empty vessel plodding through an ill-fitting part, others may disagree depending on their familiarity with his other more suave manifestations. The Lothario sends her flowers and she is genuinely grateful of the attention.
Cheng Pei Pei
She in a former film life known as the Queen of Chinese Martial Arts in Hong Kong at least, which the intensely demure inactive or her playing is remarkably at odds with here given the Crouching Tiger identity.
Junn is an elegant fresh faced creature of a settled disposition, a kind of Judy Dench, distinctly not Helen Mirren coquettish phenomenon or a Joanna Lumley (whose age remains the same?) Junn is a soft kitten who dislikes the more physical side of Alan’s attention. She puts up with it and Richard has found a young Chinese Interpreter. Vann (Naomi Christie), who acts instantly as the joining go-between. Her work in this side story is entwined with Richards own need to communicate and show his willingness to help.
Vann (Naomi Christie), has no emotional baggage but becomes involved in the hallucinosis grief brings into the life’s of those touched by the loss of Kai.

For young people grief can be very, very, challenging to put into place.

 

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Has it happened for a reason is the main question asked by them and all ages. Is it my turn next? Invincibility exists in films only or the books and stories they trace and depict.
For youth it seems so meaningless and arbitrary. IT has no value but every value ever present. All life is defined by it and to say it is ever present is to state its obvious cocooning of us in a human relation with others whose fragility we recognise and see reflections in.
Currently what do we see? We see murderers walk the streets, we see death visit the house nearby or in someone we are close to pressing on the mirror.
Noticing their breath appear. Then moving off to a funeral to pay tribute to the person past. We see the taking of the lives of children, of young soldiers rounded up and summarily executing while pleading for their lives. We see musicians, entertainers, actresses and scientists et al leave the stage of dreams and leaving us a legacy.
All in the end is Harvest
Nations do not distinguish death but poets and writers can and do celebrate the inhibition filling the mind before it laments into memory.
Eurydice by Edith Sitwell has the above line.
Love is not changed by Death,
And nothing is lost and all in the end is harvest.

Junn experiences loss and cannot express it.
In Eurydice Edith Sitwell places a conjecture on the continuity of love. Her sense of the immensity of love in the person tends to put affection, touch, compassion, companionship locus in quo. It was, now the love carries on without the physical body and the mind must expand into the newness and reshape that love to actually produce feelings of consequence.
It is how Edith Sitwell grasps the concept so simply.

The prolonged life beyond times measure.
One of the finer writers on this for me happens to be the philosopher Bertrand Russell. His logic consists I think of the immeasurable infinite reach of death. He Does not draw the afterlife as the bible prophesies of an oracular kind. Being a non-sententious person he knows no less than anyone so celebrates the portion that brings last breath. Where the life was and where it began is all that matters truly. The infinity of truth is the widest dream.
The Word is wise beyond our realm. It is summoned from the old world.
The ancient forms of life that drew life short replaceable but not renewable.
Edith Sitwell envisages us as cells that disintegrate, become parts of other things, remain elemental. The name Edith has as its derivation Old English of a conflicted triangle – meaning Happy, Rich and War.
Back on the subject of language William Morris described being bereft of your ‘speech-friend‘ harrowing to the extent holding a conversation with someone was like asking a favour.
Shakespeare’s words from Macbeth proclaim
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’erfraught heart, and bids it break.

And finally Bertrand Russell from The Conquest of Happiness…’ Surmount all misfortunes by the emergence after each blow of an interest in life and the world which cannot be narrowed down so much as to make one loss fatal. ….all our affections are at the mercy of death, ….our lives should not have that narrow intensity which puts the whole meaning and purpose of life at the mercy of accident.

Conclusion ### 3
For the film to take on the subject is very commendable. The problem arises in not being connected with the drama emotionally. Playing with distractions of editing and vocal speakover fragments and disorientates without sufficient forward story telling it became irratatingly. Frame on frame an stop frame content was a bit mind numbingly tedious.
A death of film took place at times. I am reminded of the question asked by Levi-Strauss (Claude) ‘Is mine the only voice to bear witness to the impossibility of escapism.’ Hence Liltings trap. His world of remnants as Edith Sitwell similarly adjudged. He also wrote ‘all cultural forms are ‘necessary illusions’, systems of signification substituted for experiences that cannot be communicated, cannot be known directly, however they are lived. Lilting leaves us bereft of the filling of the void and only through the personal experience shall reality seem present and that through indirectness being conceived. The dilemmas are convincing and generously portrayed with a slight shortfall in atmosphere; the cinematography is a mix of designed approaches maybe imposed through direction but it lacked a cohesive feel. I would recommend this film purely on the basis of the very present subject infiltrating everyone’s lives and this assured story, the film less obviously delivering it, takes us along the path of awareness and sympathy for the grief accompanying the people of all nations.
It is partially subtitled and principally played in English.
It should be received well in China if the generalisations are not to great to be acceptable.

 

John Graham

8 August 2014

Belfast

QFT from Friday 15 August (@6.40pm) also on earlier on the Saturday/Sunday @5.40pm then back to 6.40pm on the Monday then to the following Thursday 21 August 2014 all remaining @ 9.00/9.10pm.
Can’t believe I flagged up the times! See QFT for further details!

Also expect a screening by the BBC but everyone KNOWS how superior the Cinema experience is and it is even more comfortable in the newly refurbished Screen 2.

Be sure to mix your screen experience between the above more somber and more esoteric – The Deamers, Two days One night, Bad timing, The Shout, Naked Lunch and Kon-Tiki to name a few coming soon to QFT.

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A Touch of Sin : A Film Review

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Director Jia Zhangke-Ke. (China)  2hrs 10 mins.  Cert. 15.

Chinese Chapters

Unprecedented Access
It starts off with Village corruption and takes in Corporate destruction.
This is an unprecedented film giving insight and exposure to a view of contemporary China in a Le Haines type social immersive narrative.
Through small incidents, for the most part true, it conveys a vast continent of great beauty, varied landscapes and a pioneering drive that is seemingly relentless.
There has been a protected idealism in revolutionary China which concealed very harsh conditions resulting in a slow industrial revolution.
Nevertheless China was first to come up with iron steamships and has many other world changing contributions to our modernity. It does not differ a great deal in national terms, being a combination of provinces and integral uniquely individual development patterns. Think ex. Germany, Ex. Soviet Union and the identity trials are deadly similar.

This film is a present portrait of four stories of four people each living separate lives. Seldom do they overlap and only as a loose interplay never likely to have occurred is used as continuity.
1st Act
Jiang Wu as Dahia
The first and most violent part is the unsettling governance and treatment of the villagers in a Mining operation which has been wrested from them by corruption. A one man crusade against the new owner and his backhander conspirators outrage the lone coal miner who now lives in a false environment, with immigrant labour and a disintegrating village which is turning into a Wild West frontier town. This is a compelling first act with the acting and realism shockingly face on. The miner is played with increasing compassion and unleashed rage by Jiang Wu, broad of back and morals which themselves are quickly unravelling, so we are seeing him in effect ditch his protocols and enter into the heinous world of destroying things.
An irreligious uncoupling like a broken down train carriage in a siding, he casts off this shell and enters another modern and not so modern world fast tracking his own form of justice.
2nd Act
Wang Baoqiang as Zhao San
Second up is another worker who travels by motorbike and has a preference of being a highway robber and city thief. He is driven by a thrill seeking narrative. It allows him to leave his family and mail back earnings.
He eventually returns to see the extended family at New Year when migrants are on the move all across China and in buses, in cavernous rail stations.
He has a natty tatty desperado dress sense with huge leather knee pads akin to equine saddle kit and other bravado flourishes.
Youth, senility, hard worn faces, fleeting lives cross each other’s paths In the astonishing transit places as the director shares this sensation of movement in through the many provinces..
The action is China’s restless and indulgence in the forbidden fruit of meaningless symbols of assumed sophistication and Nuevo riches.
The outlaw of this second installment returning to his hometown rejects their hanging onto the rudiments of agrarian life and their still intact community. He possibly resents their hard, comfortable, honesty and ancient ways, as he witnesses the China of many provinces, link arms in a culturally divisive plan, also watching as it fails to reinvent itself having lost its way with the grave digger, capitalism. He takes flight again leaving his son with a memory of a mysterious father.
3rd Act
Zhao Tao (Wife of Director) as Xiao Yu
In the third act we come across a couple who have an affair which is across one marriage and a young woman whose city life is working in a sauna and whose lover is reluctant to cast of his other life. When they split, putting off once more, a new life, he in a carriage, her alone on the departure platform, from a state of the art railway station with the future pointing down the endless platform into an out of focus future.
A breathtaking shot which is a kind of stop and observe the undercurrent of the worlds progress. It echoes the over confidence found in recent years when several high speed trains went off their concrete freeways killing many. In returning to her work she is accosted by a sauna client while on a break, the recurring pestering drives her to a radical solution and gIves the film one of its stand out visual statements and  she is on the move again. Her womanhood is violated mentally and physically in this prostituted existence.
Direction : Credible Case for China
Director  Jia Zhang-Ke is quick to visualize the baseless and disintegration of identity as China carries on with as yet unrealised outcomes. While the West has had its comeuppance and is trying to address war and greed, China is in a limbo type state as demand for goods and production slows, and as Western scavengers exploit the ready made labour force and mineral wealth in businesses as diverse as solar wind energy, to pharma exploitation. Jia Zhang-Ke is doing China a huge favour in much the same way cultural ambassadors Lang Lang and Wei Wei give global credibility to the underlying, ever present ancient sensibility and innate confidence which all struggle to build upon. He depicts the human cost and the visceral amnesia or wrong diagnosis of the Chinese condition. It also may be exporting its youth as many
It is as comparable as all human condition enveloped in its own backstory.
4th Act
Li Meng as ???? and Luo Lanshan as Xiao Hui
When we are now thoroughly immersed in the pace and revelatory passage of this wonderous vision of misunderstood place, it brings forth a youth perspective. We meet up with a young journeyman factory worker who finds routine and repetition jaw droppingly gruesome. He inadvertently causes harm and, given what seems a reasonable punishment with bearable consequences, he takes off on his own to another city and enlists help which comes in the form of a ‘waiter’ ‘youthful Conceirge ‘ and rapidly becomes entranced with his beautiful co-worker who comes from the same town. Hunan. This youthful ‘lotus flower’ Li Meng has a handle on social media ‘fish wanting water’. Both these young actors are dangerously stoic and accepting of their circumstances and they rely partially on each other’s company to extract the real human out of each of them instead of the false acted part of this well heeled corporate aimed sex hotel. Li Meng very capably shows the contrasting realities and the newcomer Luo plays his role with conviction. Fish needing water is unnervingly accepting of her fate and like a restaurant fish tank, her companion girls swim up and down their sink pool.
When he returns to DongGuan the industrial city where Foxxcon is located he sees nothing changed. When Li and Lou had off time she took him to a Buddist Monastery to which she took her soul for nourishment. It is her greater self standing for her and as her, the spirit is present and the only religious consideration on this film’s which in itself spoke volumes.
There is as Dostoevsky sense of vast spaces in China as in Russia where Churches/Temples reach upward above the skyline, seen distant as a village signifiers, yet empty places on arrival in the main. The spiritual life invisible and untended.

Conclusion
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The China Element
It, the extra element, is the landscape, culture and cultivation. Amongst the construction which provides a continuity of focus depicting the ongoing China rush, much of it incomplete, in progress. The cinematic metaphor for the forces of change is a convincing motif of Jia Zhang-Ke learned talent, using it in tunnels, roads carved through beautiful stone, pristine stations city edges unmade, (like Joni Mitchell Hissing of Summer Lawns, stylized album cover, confrontation of nature and cityscapes coming to mind) – one LA based reviewer took the USA disparaging tack, – conspicuously lame and off beam, considering (perhaps because of desired detachment) with his apparent Chinese origins, – that this was a drama without psychological or social truism. It is a bit rich coming from the gross nature of Hollywood or the US and his conclusion that it was a mish mash is a case of art denial. Probably never made a Film in his life and under appreciates the vexatious problematic individual and national generaliseations necessary for this media.
It is a memorable important part of the developing Chinese cultural landscape and though heavy on the depression and violence conveys much.

John Graham

22 May 2014

Belfast

QFT Friday 16 May until 22 May 2014 and other good cinemas.
Sorry for late review – didn’t spot this one coming.