Friday, January 24, 2014

8th Spring Festival at the Shangri-La Plaza Cineplex

6:16 PM By mixofeverything blog , No comments

Shang Cineplex, in cooperation with the Ateneo de Manila’s Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, celebrates Chinese New Year with the 8th Spring Film Festival, a selection of eight Chinese language films running from January 24 to February 2. Admission is free. 

Check out the schedule below.

Note: Schedules are subject to change without prior notice. Seats are on a first come, first served basis. For more information, call Shang Cineplex at (63 2) 633-2227 or (63 2) 633-4735.

For more info on the films, check it out below.

The gem of this year’s selection is opening film Aftershock (Tang shan de di zhen, 2010, Feng Xiaogang). It tells a story of a family over forty years, beginning with a tragic loss suffered during the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake. The film is often painfully melodramatic, but there is an undeniable sense of grace lurking behind the camera. The scenes of destruction take a backseat to a variety of subplots that cleverly map out of the course that China has taken in the past forty years. It does feel gratuitous at times, but the end effect is still pretty winning in a blockbuster drama kind of way.

The Li Mi Conjecture
Also interesting is what the festival is calling The Li Mi Conjecture, known more widely as The Equation of Love and Death (Li MI de caixiang, 2008, Cao Baoping). Zhou Xun plays Li Mi, a taxi driver in the city of Kunming. She’s spent the past four years searching for a boyfriend that disappeared, and one night, a couple of coincidences lead her to a man that looks exactly like that vanished boyfriend. The film’s labyrinthine structure doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny, but director Cao has quite a talent for making the journey fun enough to make it not matter. And lead actress Zhou Xun is a real discovery in this film. Her performance alone makes the movie worth watching.

Snowfall in Taipei
Snowfall in Taipei (Tai bei piao xue, 2009, Huo Jianqi) charms with exquisite cinematography. Much of the romance that the film generates is drawn more from the imagery than it is from the story, which can mainly be described as “fluffy.” The film concerns a budding pop idol that suddenly leaves Taipei after a fight with her music producer boyfriend. She runs off to the small village of Tungchung, where she lies low and falls in love with a local. Leads Tang Yao and Chen Bo-lin look really good together, but the star of the picture is clearly director of photography Sun Ming, who really sells the beauty of small town life in Taiwan.

City Monkey
City Monkey (2010, Patrick Kong Lingchen) concerns a nineteen year-old boy who’s part of a local parkour team. Trouble starts when he neglects his studies, and his mother forbids him from doing any more parkour unless he passes his exams. City Monkey is ostensibly a film about parkour, but it’s really more of a family film with parkour around the fringes. There isn’t really much in the plot that covers the new sport, all of the dramatic tension drawn from the main character’s relationship with his family. The film has trouble finding direction, but it moves at a refreshingly relaxed pace, making good use out of its talented cast.

1911 Revolution
1911 Revolution (Xin hai ge ming, 2011, Li Zhang and Jackie Chan) comes at a tail end of a small trend of star-studded Chinese historical films. The films, though often gorgeously lensed and competently acted, generally don’t have much ambition beyond a straight retelling of events. And so it goes with this one, which recounts the overthrow of the Qing dynasty by Sun Yat-sen and his allies. There’s a good amount of spectacle in all this, but not a lot of drama. Often, the film will stop dead in its tracks for a long block of text explaining what’s going on. Not even Jackie Chan can make that fun.


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