Hongshen Jia

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Frozen Review


OK
Apparently, in post-Tiennamen Square China, life is so boring and disaffected that there's nothing for youth left to do than contemplate suicide and concoct elaborate performance-art methods of carrying it out. Reportedly based on a true event, Frozen starts with these performance artists eating bars of soap and culminates in the title event as one Gen X type freezes himself to near-death. There isn't much else to Frozen aside from these cold, detached images -- the intervening conversations are dry as dust. But as a time capsule of a unique period in world history, Frozen is a rare curiosity and an important artifact.

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Suzhou River Review


Good
Extremely strange and unique Chinese film, Suzhou River tells the story of a motorcycle courier who befriends and later falls in love with a drug dealer's 16-year-old daughter, only to eventually go to jail after he kidnaps her for ransom, resulting in her leaping to her death in the titular river, a grungy waterway through Shanghai. Years later, after a jail stint, our antihero finds himself drawn to a lounge dancer/swimmer who uncannily looks like his old flame (and is played smashingly by the same actress, Xun Zhou). Voyeuristic (including a nearly four-minute, unbroken scene as the messenger watches the singer get dressed for the night) and dark, the film isn't for everyone, but its poetry is uncommon. Imagine Blade Runner set in the recent past and in a much less interesting locale.

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