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VIFF 2016: Introduction and Proposed Schedule

I’ll be back at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year, and we’re planning extensive coverage over at Seattle Screen Scene. This year’s lineup looks like it might be the best since 2012, packed with promising European titles, the best selection of Asian films on the North American festival circuit and a renewed emphasis on cutting-edge Canadian cinema. All of my reviews this year are going to be over at SSS, but I’ll have an additional index of them over here, and I figured this would be a more appropriate home for my proposed schedule.

These are the films I’m hoping to see. Showings that conflict with each other are listed without a space in-between, with the film I’m leaning toward attending listed first.

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A Top 100 Films of All-Time

It is time once again for a Top 100 Films of All-Time list. As I’ve done for the last few years, the first ten spots on the list comprise a hypothetical Sight & Sound-style ballot. We had an on-going project related to this on The George Sanders Show, that will now be based at Seattle Screen Scene. This top ten is presented here in chronological order. The remaining 90 films were randomly selected from a consideration set of 867 films, which excluded films that made my Top Tens in 201220132014 and 2015.

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1. Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1935)

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2. Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)

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3. News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1977)

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4. The Green Ray (Eric Rohmer, 1986)

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5. Peking Opera Blues (Tsui Hark, 1986)

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6. The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)

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7. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)

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8. Running on Karma (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2003)

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9. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)

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10. Linda Linda Linda (Nouhiro Yamashita, 2005)

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11. The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper, 1971)

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12. Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang, 2015)

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13. Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)

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14. Nomad (Patrick Tam, 1982)

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15. Run of the Arrow (Samuel Fuller, 1957)

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16. Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)

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17. The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Paul Wegener & Carl Boese, 1920)

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18. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

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19. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung, 1984)

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20. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

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21. The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)

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22. Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984)

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23. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

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24. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

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25. The Heroic Ones (Chang Cheh, 1970)

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26. What Time is it There? (Tsai Ming-liang, 2001)

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27. The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975)

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28. Hearts of the World (DW Griffith, 1918)

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29. Romancing in Thin Air (Johnnie To, 2012)

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30. There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1955)

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31. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt, 2015)

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32. Written By (Wai Ka-fai, 2009)

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33. Big Night (Campbell Scott & Stanley Tucci, 1996)

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34. The Pan-American Exposition by Night (Edwin S. Porter, 1901)

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35. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)

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36. Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney, 1953)

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37. Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr, 2015)

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38. Come Drink with Me (King Hu, 1966)

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39. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)

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40. City Girl (FW Murnau, 1930)

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41. Fort Apache (John Ford, 1948)

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42. Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz, 2012)

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43. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

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44. L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

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45. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

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46. Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986)

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47. Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)

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48. Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985)

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49. Friday Night (Claire Denis, 2002)

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50. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)

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51. Exiled (Johnnie To, 2006)

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52. Romance Joe (Lee Kwangkuk, 2011)

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53. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002)

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54. Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961)

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55. City on Fire (Ringo Lam, 1987)

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56. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)

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57. 24 City (Jia Zhangke, 2008)

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58. Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway, 1991)

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59. The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962)

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60. The Sword of Doom (Kihachi Okamoto, 1966)

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61. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (Adam Curtis, 2007)

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62. Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow, 2001)

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63. The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh, 2013)

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64. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012)

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65. In Another Country (Hong Sangsoo, 2012)

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66. Toute la mémoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1956)

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67. Kid Auto Races at Venice (Henry Lehrman, 1914)

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68. Wife! Be Like a Rose! (Mike Naruse, 1935)

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69. Culloden (Peter Watkins, 1964)

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70. Henry Fool (Hal Hartley, 1997)

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71. PTU (Johnnie To, 2003)

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72. The East is Red (Ching Siu-tung & Raymond Lee, 1993)

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73. Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994)

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74. Hapkido (Huang Feng, 1972)

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75. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)

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76. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

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77. Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears, 1988)

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78. Chinese Odyssey 2002 (Jeffrey Lau, 2002)

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79. This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)

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80. A Woman is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961)

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81. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

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82. Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)

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83. Wee Willie Winkie (John Ford, 1937)

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84. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Allan Arkush, 1979)

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85. Yesterday Once More (Johnnie To, 2004)

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86. The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

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87. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichhardt, 2010)

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88. To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944)

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89. Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2002)

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90. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Bill Melendez, 1966)

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91. Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963)

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92. Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter, 1987)

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93. Two Tars (James Parrott, 1928)

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94. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

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95. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (Eleanor Coppola, Fax Bahr & George Hickenlooper, 1991)

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96. Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

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97. Body Double (Brian De Palma, 1984)

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98. Unfaithfully Yours (Preston Sturges, 1948)

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99. The Day He Arrives (Hong Sangsoo, 2011)

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100. Heroes of the East (Lau Kar-leung, 1978)

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This Week in Rankings

Over the several week since the last update, I wrote about Johnnie To’s Three for Mubi, Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day for Movie Mezzanine and Sion Sono’s Bicycle Sighs for InReview Online (link coming soon). Here at The End I counted down the Best Movies of 2016 (So Far) and at Seattle Screen Scene I wrote about a trio of under-the-radar new Chinese releases, Cold War 2, One Night Only and For a Few Bullets, and a pair of American movies: DePalma and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. We also released the final episode of The Frances Farmer Show, on Three and Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor.

The are the movies I’ve watched and reattached over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly) – 1, 1952
Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller) – 10, 1963
Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu) – 3, 1967
A Touch of Zen (King Hu) – 1, 1971
Scarface (Brian DePalma) – 9, 1983

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki) – 2, 1988
Bicycle Sighs (Sion Sono) – 42, 1990
A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang) – 2, 1991
Love in the Time of Twilight (Tsui Hark) – 10, 1995
Persuasion (Roger Michell) – 15, 1995

Young and Dangerous (Andrew Lau) – 53, 1996
Young and Dangerous 2 (Andrew Lau) – 59, 1996
Yi yi (Edward Yang) – 5, 2000
State and Main (David Mamet) – 17, 2000
Cold War (Longman Leung & Sunny Luk) – 52, 2012

Kaili Blues (Bi Gan) – 18, 2015
Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr) – 23, 2015
Three (Johnnie To) – 3, 2016
OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman) – 9, 2016

One Night Only (Matt Wu) – 10, 2016
Cold War 2 (Longman Leung & Sunny Luk) – 19, 2016
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Jake Szymanski) – 22, 2016
For a Few Bullets (Pan Anzi) – 23, 2016

The Best Movies of 2016 (So Far)

We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. We’ll be putting together a Seattle-specific lists for Seattle Screen Scene later this week, for example. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-thorough lists include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2015 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2016, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2015 Movies of 2016, which includes those films from last year that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list (and despite the title, also includes one film from 1991 and one from 2012, both of which only premiered in New York this year). I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2015, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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This Week in Rankings

Since the last update the Seattle International Film Festival has come and gone. My coverage included fifteen reviews, three podcasts and a trio of previews, all at Seattle Screen Scene. I posted the English language version of a short survey of Contemporary Chinese Cinema I wrote for the Estonian arts magazine SIRP and I listed 50 of the Best Chinese Language Films of the 21st Century. Jealous of the massive Hong Sangsoo retrospective going on in New York, I indexed all of my writing and podcasting on Hong and resurrected a lost podcast episode I helped record last year on Hong and Oki’s Movie. And, with the festival over, I finally was able to watch and review my much-anticipated English-subtitled DVD of Jiang Wen’s 2014 film Gone with the Bullets.

These are the movies I’ve watched or rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place in my year-by-year rankings.

The General (Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman) – 1, 1926
The Big Road (Sun Yu) – 6, 1935
Merbabies (Vernon Stallings & Rudolf Ising) – 23, 1938
Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch) – 4, 1943
A Scandal in Paris (Douglas Sirk) – 13, 1946

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly) – 1, 1952
Los tallos amargos (Fernando Ayala) – 22, 1956
Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles) – 2, 1965
Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu) – 3, 1967
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies) – 1, 1988

The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies) – 6, 1992
Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 9, 1997
Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 12, 2001
Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 6, 2008
575 Castro St. (Jenni Olson) – 18, 2009
Gone with the Bullets (Jiang Wen) – 26, 2014

Sunset Song (Terence Davies) – 11, 2015
Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang) – 24, 2015
De Palma (Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow) – 47, 2015
Concerto: A Beethoven Journey (Phil Grabsky) – 58, 2015
Thithi (Raam Reddy) – 63, 2015

Tag (Sion Sono) – 74, 2015
The Island Funeral (Pimpka Towira) – 83, 2015
Ten Years (Various) – 91, 2015
The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin (Yves Montmayeur) – 99, 2015
The Final Master (Xu Haofeng) – 114, 2015

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman) – 1, 2016
Three (Johnnie To) – 3, 2016
A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (Shunji Iwai) – 7, 2016
Trivisa (Jevons Au, Frank Hui & Vicky Wong) – 8, 2016
Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) – 9, 2016

My Beloved Bodyguard (Sammo Hung) – 10, 2016
Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected World (Werner Herzog) – 11, 2016
The Mobfathers (Herman Yau) – 14, 2016
The Seasons in Quincy (Tilda Swinton, et al) – 15, 2016
In a Valley of Violence (Ti West) – 20, 2016

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SIFF 2016 Index

This is an Index of my coverage of the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. All the writing was at Seattle Screen Scene.

Reviews:

Report #1: Sunset Song, Concerto: A Beethoven Journey, A Scandal in Paris, A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, Love & Friendship
Report #2: The Big Road, The Island Funeral, Heaven Can Wait, The Final Master, My Beloved Bodyguard
Report #3: The Bitter Stems, Thithi, Trivisa, The Mobfathers, Tag

Podcasts:

The Frances Farmer Show #6: SIFF 2016 Preview, The Long Day Closes and Tokyo Sonata
The Frances Farmer Show #7: SIFF 2016 Midpoint Report
The Frances Farmer Show #8: SIFF 2016 Wrap-Up

Previews:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three and Beyond

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Jiang Wen’s Gone with the Bullets

 

So Jiang Wen made a Wong Jing movie. . .

I saw the Thai DVD, which is the first version I’ve seen that has English subtitles. The running time is 119 minutes. Wikipedia and IMDB give it a running time of 140 minutes, with a 120 minute international cut, while Screen Daily‘s review from the Berlin Film Festival says it’s 134 minutes. I have no idea what’s been removed for this international cut, but I doubt the added footage would make the movie any more or less coherent.

Jiang plays a conman in 1920s Shanghai. In an opening parody of the first scene of The Godfather, he agrees to help the youngest son of the local warlord general launder his money. To do so, he spends it all on an extravagant pageant to crown the Best Hooker in Shanghai, complete with musical numbers (“a song so new Mr. Gershwin won’t even write it for ten years!”), fireworks, live radio coverage around the world and Shu Qi offering to sleep with 30 rich men in 30 nights and give all her proceeds to the poor. Shortly thereafter, she proposes to Jiang (they are old friends and lovers), he tries to talk her out of it in a melange of artificial sets and dizzying cutting (every line gets its own shot, the effect of which, given the screwball pace of the exchanges, is something like watching a Baz Luhrmann movie on amphetamines), culminating in an opium dreams of a wild musical car trip. The morning after, Shu Qi is dead and Jiang spends the rest of the movie on the run, accused of her murder.

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