Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2000
USA: Cowboy Pictures
Cast: Wen Jiang, Hongbo Jiang, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ding Yuan, Zhijun Cong, Zi Xi, Haibin Li, Kenya Sawada, Weidong Cai, Lianmei Chen, Yoshimoto Miyaji, Qiang Chen, David Wu
Director: Wen Jiang
Country: China
Languages: Mandarin Chinese / Japanese (English subtitles)
USA: 140 mins
USA Release Date: 18 December 2002 (Limited Release - New York)


By turns an elaborate wartime drama of China, suffering under Japanese occupation during the 1930s and 40s, and an absurdist comedy of madness, cultural disconnects and historical booby-traps that Samuel Beckett would recognize in an instant. The devils in question are the Japanese, but it's clear that director Jiang Wen is less interested in settling scores than in painting a complex picture of human frailty and vulnerability, especially in time of war. He begins by dumping two prisoners of the anti-Japanese resistance into the lap of some hapless Chinese peasants who are ordered to care for them indefinitely. The Japanese prisoner wants only to be killed to save face; his Chinese translator/collaborator wants only to survive (thus he mistranslates his boss's hysterical invective). The peasants want only to be rid of these crazed prisoners and their impossible demands. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize, Cannes 2000.

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