Sunday, June 16, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
The lives of a lot of silent film stars were tragic and short. Few, however, had the kind of extreme trajectory that Ruan Lingyu did: one of China’s top attractions at 21; dead by suicide at 24, after a career of only nine years. She lived a very public life. However, the question of what Ruan’s death meant to Chinese filmgoers is not an important one in Center Stage, director Stanley Kwan’s 1992 biopic of the screen legend, starring Maggie Cheung. What really matters, in this film, is what her death meant to her.
Monday, June 3, 2013
To describe places or inanimate objects in a film as “actors” is cliché. Writing about Yellow Earth, I’m tempted to do it anyway. The landscape shot by cinematographer Zhang Yimou—made of bobbing, bowl-like valleys, treeless and vast, across which one might still see a friend or enemy walking, hours after they’ve been abandoned—seems like more than a setting to me. It contains the players; holds them together; thwarts them. It forms a pocket universe, isolated from the very busy and fraught time in which the events of the film occur. It is doing something.