LU CHEN is a contributor to the Rail.
APR 2010 | Film
In the world of Ajami, violence and fear lie like volcanoes beneath the surface of everyday life in the titular Jaffa neighborhood where religions, cultures, and perspectives collide.
DEC 10-JAN 11 | Film
Edward Yangs four-hour epic masterpiece A Brighter Summer Day impresses and intimidates with its dense texture, convoluted plot lines, and audiovisual complexities.
APRIL 2009 | Film
Kiyoshi Kurosawas films often envelope their characters and viewers in an intense sense of isolation and despair. When a young woman, paranoid of supernatural attack, slowly retreats into a back room, the camera moves forward to lead us further away from her world. At the end of a dimly-lit street, someone suddenly jumps down a high tower to her death. The horrified reaction of a witness is lost among the grey shades of many faceless, out-of-focus passers-by.
JUL-AUG 2009 | Film
Sergei Eisenstein once tried to stage a theatrical production in an actual factory, only to find the play overwhelmed by the factory present in full force before the spectators.
APR 2008 | Books
Life is rhythmically punctuated by death, just as memory is punctuated by moments of revelation, in which the characters are transformed by sudden glimpses of the world beyond knowledge or language. A young handyman believes he sees the finger of God; a girl confined to bed by a nervous disorder feels blessed by the splendid visible and invisible worlds; a college student dives out of his ninth-floor window to, after a poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez, catch the stars more quickly.
MAY 2008 | Film
Like this Chinese proverb, The Dragon Painter centers on the painting and unpainting of a dragon. Produced by, and starring, the Japanese-born actor Sessue Hayakawa, the film transplants an oriental tale onto the western screen, with a twist.
SEPT 2008 | Film
People disappear every day. Every time they leave the room. The exchange of lines in Antonionis The Passenger (1975) applies well to Fatih Akins recent The Edge of Heaven.
DEC 08-JAN 09 | Film
Slumdog Millionaire gave me the perfect experience of what Roland Barthes calls cinematographic hypnosis. The images lured, captured, and captivated me. In a crisp two hours I shared the characters thrills and tears with held breath, followed the gorgeous color, buoyant music, and breathtaking motion without my eyes leaving the screen.
NOV 2010 | Film
Let Me In starts with the intensity of a horror film. An ambulance winds its way through the dark in a snow storm; a series of bizarre murders in town evoke police suspicion of some satanic cult.
MARCH 2009 | Film
The Class is funny, true-to-life, and hard to classify. Loosely based on the memoir by François Bégaudeau about his experience as a literature teacher in an inner city high school in a working-class neighborhood, Class stars the author in a fictionalized version of himself.
JUNE 2009 | Film
With its central image, Lemon Tree evokes the roots of a nation: its soil, its rural heritage, its ancestors and the connection between its past and future.
MAR 2008 | Film
History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. Stephen Dedaluss line in Ulysses perfectly describes the characters in the films of Goran Paskaljević, the Serbian director who, not coincidentally, chose Joyces Ireland as his second home.
MAY 2008 | Express
Written, directed, and produced by Sue Williams and planned as the first episode of five documentary films over twenty years, Young & Restless in China records the lives of nine Chinese young adults over a four-year span (2004-2007).
JUN 2008 | Film
Summer means Asian Films Are Go. The New York Asian Film Festival will present its wild selection of the most recent and most curious films culled from the current crop of Asian pop cinema.
OCT 2008 | Film
David Lean is a filmmaker with many prehistoric virtues. Clearly a sort of a materialist, Lean vests in rich, elaborative visual details and displays a strong belief in assuring their solidity, be it the perfect sunset or the right look of a corn field in 1910s Russia.