Caught in the Web

For the first time in a decade, writer-director Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Promise) looks at contemporary rather than historical China, focusing on such topical issues as Internet surveillance and the 24-hour news cycle. A corporate secretary (Yuanyuan Gao of Johnnie To’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart) gets caught on camera refusing to relinquish her bus seat to an old man; a sensationalistic TV news show blows the event out of proportion, and within hours the woman finds herself a pariah. Other complications involve her CEO boss, his jealous wife, and several muckraking reporters; Chen interweaves these plot strands as though constructing a farce, yet the tone is bitter and moralistic. This isn’t a success, but it has insight and energy. In Mandarin with subtitles.