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Golden Chicken

This vehicle for one of Hong Kong’s most underrated comediennes, Sandra Ng, tells the story of a prostitute whose life—from adolescence to riches to poverty—parallels the history of Hong Kong from 1978 to the present. A rambunctious comedy with a sentimental heart that at times turns surprisingly passionate, this 2002 feature never quite clicks. The […]

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Sebastian and Alex are two smarmy upper-middle-class jerks who enjoy “slumming”: mocking and playing practical jokes on people they find in lower-class Viennese hangouts. Pia is a serious-minded primary school teacher who finds Sebastian online. Kallmann is a middle-aged failed poet and abusive drunk—repulsive, borderline schizophrenic, yet strangely lovable. For a lark, the jerks kidnap […]

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The best films of Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk manage to keep class- and gender-based fury in an unlikely balance with pictorial lyricism, undercutting and sublimating the ugly resentment and visceral violence they contain. Unfortunately in Kim’s 13th feature the balance has slipped, the anger has atrophied, and the pictures have become drab self-parody. In the […]

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Initial D

The title’s D refers to “drifting,” a racing maneuver the hero, the too-cool-to-emote Takumi, has mastered through years of driving on a mountain road to deliver tofu for his abusive but loving father. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, the team responsible for the diabolically successful Infernal Affairs trilogy, created this slick though featherweight adolescent melodrama, […]

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Grain in Ear

A quietly chilling melodrama of alienation and repressed fury, Zhang Lu’s second feature mercilessly exposes the disempowerment and dispossession that all too frequently characterize life in today’s ferociously capitalist China. Cui Shunji is a poor Korean roadside kimchi seller, marginalized because of her ethnicity. She and her son, who share a small cement-block house with […]

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Zhang Yang, who’s directed several semicommercial films that connected with Chinese audiences, stretches here as he tries to cover the last four decades of Chinese history through the story of one Beijing family. Intergenerational conflict, with paternal authority pitted against youthful freedom, powers the family story. The father is played impressively by Sun Haiying, his […]

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Everlasting Regret

Stanley Kwan makes Hong Kong’s smartest “women’s pictures” and most provocative nostalgia films, so the release of his latest, an adaptation of Wang Anyi’s novel tracing the life of a Shanghai beauty queen from the 1940s to the ’80s, is automatically a major event. Never a slave to Hollywood’s narrative conventions, Kwan privileges mood, ambience, […]

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The Reader’s Guide to the 41st International Film Festival

Film Capital of the Week Being a second rate movie town has its advantages. By Jonathan Rosenbaum Heaven knows what possessed the Chicago International Film Festival to adopt “Film capital of the world” as its slogan this year, but considering some of the movies that played in New York and Los Angeles recently and never […]