Tag: China


The Red Violin

October 15th, 2020 — 5:27am

***
The Red Violin Amazon Prime

This is a unique story directed by François Girard. It has an outstanding cast which includes Samuel L. Jackson, Gretta Scacchi, Monique Mercure, and Don McKella. With lush cinematography, “The Red Violin” provides much to think about. We are brought along with the story of the creation in the 17th century of a particularly well crafted violin and how the instrument is used, abused, and yet survives until the present day. The violin maker is crafting the special instrument for the son that his wife is soon to bear. However, she dies in childbirth and he is so distraught that he uses her blood mixed into the varnish on the violin (hence the “red” violin). The film skips to a child prodigy orphan who is then given the violin, but meets tragedy as well when he dies and is buried with the violin. A group of gypsies rob the grave and one of the women plays it beautifully until she is noticed by a wealthy land owner/concert musician who makes a deal with her and her group, in which they are given land on which to live while he takes the ownership of the violin. After some time of his playing in concerts and receiving wide acclaim, he meets a tragic end. The violin is taken by his Chinese servant to China. There, it is lovingly cared for and played until the Cultural Revolution causes instruments of Europe to be banned and their musicians ostracized. Ultimately, the violin finds its way to present day Montreal where it is part of a large shipment of instruments purchased from China. The film intersperses scenes of the present with experts doing research on the origin of instruments with the scenes of the rich history and adds an extra layer of intrigue as the instruments are being readied to be auctioned to aficionados willing to spend huge amounts of money. While the most interesting depiction of time, place, and history, the up and back nature of the film is often jarring and confusing; however, seeing phases of history through the story of a particular instrument is thought provoking and the modern day drama somewhat intriguing as well.(1998)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, History

One Child Nation

November 17th, 2019 — 10:57pm

 

***

One Child Nation-  amazon

In 1979, the Chinese government came to the conclusion that if they did not make some radical changes, the next generation’s population would grow enormously. 

They believed that the population would be in the billions and would lead to widespread starvation and be very difficult to manage. Therefore the Chinese government instituted a mandatory one child policy, which was widely publicized and became the “patriotic approach” expected from every Chinese family. Those who disobeyed this dictum and had a second child would be severely punished sometimes by having their home destroyed. Midwives not only performed numerous sterilization procedures and abortions but also at times had to kill newborns who were second children. This policy continued for 25 years before it was finally changed allowing a second child.

Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang directed this documentary film. Much of it was in Chinese with subtitles. It captures and personalizes the impact of this all encompassing social policy. Through interviews with various Chinese people, the viewer can appreciate the very personal meaning of being deprived of the ability to have a second child if one wanted one. Family dynamics are examined especially in some settings where there might be a desire to have a boy and the first child was a girl. The newborn and the very young were abandoned in the streets. There was human trafficking where children were sold to adoption agencies. Many of these children were internationally adopted and ended up in American homes where the adopted parents were not told the true story of their newly adopted child. There also is the story of the search by adopted Chinese children growing up in America who might be interested in finding their birth families.

This film deals with these complicated issues, which have political, social, as well as emotional implications. You come away from this documentary film educated and also moved by the human implications of what you have seen and experienced. (2019)

 

As always your comments are welcome below:

 

 

1 comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Foreign, Politics

American Factory

October 20th, 2019 — 8:31pm

****

American Factory-nf

This a documentary, which allows the viewer to be a “fly on the wall” as real life unfolds in factory in Dayton, Ohio.

A wealthy Chinese businessman opens up a new factory, which makes glass for automobiles, in a closed General Motors Auto Factory in Dayton, Ohio. He brings in from China the people who will be the supervisors of the workers, who come from the local community and are thrilled at being able to get back to work, although their minimum wages are below the wages they made from the now closed auto factory.

Everybody is optimistic that this gigantic plant will rejuvenate the local community. The workers try to get used to the Chinese work culture and the Chinese try to understand the American way of thinking. A delegation of American workers is sent to China where they are wined and dined and participate in the celebration of Chinese culture. The film production team led by producers/directors Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert  have obtained very good access to both the Americans and Chinese working in the factory and they are able to film the workers and their supervisors as they discussed their personal feelings. Things come to a head when there is a movement to unionize the workers, which is opposed by the management. The tension between the two sides builds to an ultimate vote whether this unionization should take place.

This movie highlights important political and social differences between contemporary American and Chinese cultures. It is of note that one of the backers of this film is Barack and Michelle Obama’s new production company, Higher Ground (2019).

Please leave any comments below

Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Politics

Mao’s Last Dancer

July 15th, 2011 — 8:34pm

****

Mao’s Last Dancer- nf – You get a lot for the price of your ticket in this movie. First there is an insight into the recent history of China where even after the death of Mao, the Chinese government tried to control the minds their people as well as their freedom and spirit. You also get some wonderful pieces of classical ballet choreographed by Australians Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon. But most of all you get the true, very touching story of Li Cunxin based on his autobiography and an excellent screenplay by Jan Sardi. At age 11 he was plucked from his rural cold, snowy school to leave his peasant parents and 5 siblings in order  to live and study full time at a dance academy in Beijing. We follow him through three  actors who play him at various stages in his youth and finally to his portrayal as a young man by Chi Cao who himself is an accomplished dancer. Interestingly, Cao’s real life parents had been teachers of Li Cunxin.  Director Bruce Beresford switching back in forth to various time periods shows the development of this talented evolving dancer. After leaving his family to train  in Beijing, the next big event is as an 18 year old  when he is  invited on a cultural exchange to the Houston Ballet Academy by it’s director Ben Stevenson (Bruce Greenwood). There is culture shock as he had been brainwashed to believe that the US was quite the opposite of what he saw and experienced in 1980’s Houston Texas. There is romance, his recognition of his talent and his potential. Then there is  a confrontation with the long arm of China that is pulling him back there. Much of the film is actually shot in China as well as in Houston Texas. The scenes and the people in the rural village appear quite authentic. The story easily evokes tears and yet reminds us of an important lesson that is the theme of the movie and a line in it.,  Before You Can Fly You Have To Be Free .  (2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama, Musical

John Rabe

September 8th, 2010 — 2:30am

John Rabe* * * * *
John Rabe
– sp – Most American have either never heard about the Rape of Nanking or certainly know very little about it. Probably almost nobody in this country has heard of John Rabe. This German film tells the true story this man who felt he was a loyal Nazi working for Hitler and his government in Nanking as the Director the German Industrial Siemens factory, when the Japanese decided to invade China in 1937. This ultimately brings the Japanese forces led by a relative of the Emperor to Nanking. Rabe found himself having to take actions and make decisions which would effect the lives of over 200,000 Chinese. This is a personal drama, a war story with thousands of extras, an accurate history lesson founded on diaries and the book, The Good Man of Nanking as well as an extremely well done movie which will keep you on the edge of your seat for more than two hours. There is a seamless blend of brutal scenes with touching human moments interspersed with black and white authentic newsreels which reminds you although this is a fascinating story, it is reflecting all too true events. Usually when we see a World War II movie showing the murder of prisoners and civilians, it is the Germans who are doing the killing. However this time it is the Japanese who are murdering the Chinese. In one unforgettable ironic scene, Rabe is outraged at acts of the Japanese who are, of course, allies of the Germans. Therefore he sends a fruitless telegram to Hitler asking and expecting him to insist that the Japanese stop murdering innocent people. Ulrich Tukur plays Rabe and won the equivalent of the German Academy Award as did the movie. American actor Steve Buscemi superbly plays Dr. Robert Wilson the American doctor who actually founded the hospital in Nanking and worked very closely with Rabe. The screenwriter and Director is Florian Gallenberger who took a couple of years researching and writing the movie. He told us of the conflicts that he had with the Chinese government during the preparatory phase of the movie. You should see this movie in your local theatres if you can. However, if you end up watching it on Netflix, hopefully there will be a director’s narrative or interviews with Florian Gallenberger. Despite his relative young age he was a major player in this very large endeavor. He is extremely articulate in English, his second language and relates a fascinating account of the making of this movie. (2010)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Biography, Drama, Foreign, War

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