Arts

Arts

How John Woo reinvented action movies
Director John Woo, who turned 74 on May 1, should be considered the godfather of the modern action movie. Mixing spectacular set pieces with sentiment, he started tropes now synonymous with the genre. These include slow-motion fight scenes, Mexican stand-offs and characters firing multiple guns at the same time. The repeated use of doves, however, is a style all his own. Born in Guangzhou in 1946, the director of films such as A Better Tomorrow (1986), The Killer (1989) and Hard Boiled (1992) grew up in Hong Kong after his family fled persecution under Mao Zedong.  “As a kid, I always felt like I lived in hell – the slums of Hong Kong were horrible,” he told Venice Magazine. “I always had t
Will ‘Parasite’ make it past China’s film censors?
Chinese film fans still don’t know if, or when, they will get to see Parasite, the South Korean film that made history by winning the 92nd Academy Award for best picture, along with three other Oscars. Some expressed doubts the film would be shown in China given its unflinching criticism of social inequality and extreme poverty, and its amoral storyline. It wouldn’t be the first Korean film to fall foul of Chinese censors. Korean directors have not been shy about depicting their country under dictatorship, and are likened to French filmmakers in their stylistic portrayal of sex and gore. Chinese censorship rules ban the explicit portrayal of sex, violence, sensitive political issues, practic
The making of Oscar-nominated, Obamas-backed ‘American Factory’
Back in 2014, the Chinese entrepreneur Cao Dewang looked like a savior to the people of Dayton, Ohio. Cao is the founder and CEO of Fuyao, which makes glass such as windshields. The Chinese billionaire promised to bring an abandoned General Motors factory in the American state back to life, providing thousands of jobs to an area that desperately needed them. Filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were there in 2008 to document the GM factory closing.  They returned in 2014 to make American Factory, which has been nominated for best documentary feature at this year’s Academy Awards and won accolades at film festivals around the world. Given full access to the plant and its workers, the
New documentary shows the vulnerable side of Bruce Lee
What can we expect in a new Bruce Lee documentary that we haven’t already seen in previous productions? By drawing on his own personal experience, Vietnamese-American director Bao Nguyen (Live from New York!), who lives between Los Angeles and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, has delivered something fresh with Be Water, a personal take on the challenges the martial arts superstar faced as he lived between Hong Kong and America. Having gained the family’s permission, Nguyen benefited from unprecedented access to archival material, which was essential, as it is primarily a film told in the past.  Several of Lee’s old friends appear in interviews; hearing from his widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, and daug
Film festivals continue to tell the story of Hong Kong unrest
It is difficult for Hongkongers to find a nearby cinema to watch locally made films about the ongoing anti-government protests. But interest in the demonstrations has led foreign cinemas and film festivals to program documentaries and feature films relating to Hong Kong’s political movements. This month, the Netherlands’ International Film Festival Rotterdam, one of the world’s top-10 film festivals, is screening a film series called “Ordinary Heroes: Made in Hong Kong.” It comprises of more than 20 documentaries, features and short films that focus on the Umbrella Movement in 2014 and the current protests. The festival opens on January 22. In New York City, the popular Metrograph Cinema on
Museums grappling with how best to tell the story of Chinese Americans
A gravestone. Massive rocks. A mouldy qipao that has been sitting in an attic for 80 years. Among the challenges for America’s hundred or so private museums devoted to showcasing Chinese culture is how to turn down beloved donations from the public. This is just one of the hurdles Chinese-American museums face as they increase in number and prominence in line with the community. Even as the soon-to-officially-open Chinese American Museum in Washington scrambles for artefacts to fill out its collection, established museums routinely turn away old postcards, souvenirs from some recent holiday in China or dusty statues of obscure deities – without hurting prospective donors’ feelings. “Someone’
This woman uses wacky dresses to help change the world
Most people choose what they wear to flatter their bodies.  For Chinese artist Kong Ning, fashion is a soapbox she can employ to call people’s attention to some of the most pressing issues affecting the world. And when she uses that soapbox, Kong goes all out. In 2015, she wore an outfit dotted with hundreds of anti-pollution breathing masks and sauntered around smog-choked Beijing.  In 2013, she stitched 999 respirators onto a wedding dress. She titled it “Marry the Blue Sky” and wore it at the Beijing Exhibition Center. In 2016, she wore a wedding dress – made of 100 inflatable white doves – at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. She attached plastic models of Notre
The Chinese TV show accused of copying Queer Eye has no openly gay stars
Viewers in China say a new reality TV show in the country bears a striking resemblance to the popular Queer Eye series on Netflix. Just without the gay Fab Five. The reality show You are so Beautiful premiered on state-owned streaming service Mango TV in December. Like the Emmy-winning American show, the Chinese program depicts makeovers masterminded by five experts in charge of fashion, grooming, food, home design and lifestyle. However, none of the five experts on You are so Beautiful is openly gay. The show, which has streamed three episodes so far, has also made no effort to promote LGBTQ acceptance like Queer Eye.  Mentions of LGBTQ issues are often censored in Chinese media. Although