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Luxi

10 great Chinese language films of the 21st C.

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Luxi

The list and a short review of the movies by the British Film Institute.  

From the list, I've only watched The Grand Master and Blind Shaft. Blind Shaft was grim!    

 

I would have added Red Cliff (the complete version),  Saving General Yang, Warriors of Heaven and Earth, The Banquet and The Assassin to the list. Probably also Chen Kaige's Legend of the Demon Cat (Kukai), though I haven't seen it yet.

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abcdefg

Thanks, @Luxi -- I've seen several of these. The list includes several films that were probably aimed at a more sophisticated audience, sort of the "art house" crowd. Can't remember ever seeing them even advertised in Kunming. Of course I could just have missed them. Have to wonder if the distinction between "mass market" films and "low budget indie-type" films even exists any more here in China with so many people watching movies on mobile devices instead of in a traditional movie house/cinema. 

 

Not quite sure what I'm trying to say. Does anyone else here actually "go to the movies" anymore besides me? I mean stand in line, buy a ticket, sit in the dark, eat some popcorn and drink a Coke. Yet I see huge box office numbers for popular "hits" -- most of which are action films or cartoonish things aimed at kids, not the thought-provoking, slow-paced films heavily represented on this list. Many of the "hits" are these abominable superhero things from the US. 

 

I'll bet, though I could not prove it (and I could be wrong) that if this list of "10 best films" were put up beside with a list of "10 most popular films," there would not be much overlap. Maybe three at the very most.  

 

The tricky Andy Lau/Tony Leung police film (which I've seen several times) -- 无间道。Then "City of Life and Death" maybe, though it might have been edged out by one of several more "accessible" films on the same subject, such as "The Flowers of War" by Zhang Yimou, with Christian Bale. (2011 -- 金陵十三钗). "The Grandmaster" was big at the box office here and showed on TV movie channels many times in the following few years. (2013 -- Wong Kar Wai -- 一代宗師). But it didn't make even half the splash as several earlier Ip Man movies. 

 

 I think the "social realism" films that "eloquently indict" this or that feature of modern Chinese society almost certainly did not draw big crowds down at the 万达 multiplex. I'm guessing they made a quick and quiet debut in Beijing or Shanghai and then went straight to the on-line download sites, if they weren't outright banned.  

 

When I go to the movies here and try to tell my friends about what I saw, I always get the same two questions. And only the same two questions. "你一个人去吗?“ and ”门票多少钱?“ It is predictable to a fault. Nobody asks about the content, was it well done, did such and such a star make a good showing, what happened at the end? 

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Luxi
8 hours ago, abcdefg said:

sort of the "art house" crowd.

 

Yes, that's the British Film Institute (BFI) alright. I think the only one in the list that may have been shown in British cinemas is The Grandmaster, but probably only in major cities. At one time some years ago, it looked that Chinese cinema was going to become more popular here, that was when "Crouching tiger, lying dragon" came out - I was quite amazed when at the end of the film, the audience stood up and applauded. "Hero" was also welcome. But then Chinese cinema went back to the art houses. I must say a lot of post-2010 Chinese movies lack originality and finesse, not a shadow of the 1980s creativity.

 

There was a time when Chinese movies were shown on TV late at night. I saw most of the wonderful 1980's and 90's films that way. But even that stopped, now occasionally there's a kungfu movie repeat, but nothing to inspire me to set up the recorder. 

 

8 hours ago, abcdefg said:

I think the "social realism" films that "eloquently indict" this or that feature of modern Chinese society almost certainly did not draw big crowds

 

They may not have been shown in China. We were able to see here many films that were banned there, in fact most of the very best movies were banned at least for a time. Like Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (黄土地), or 活着.

 

 

 

 

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Bibu

learned the words art house, a nice word. This list is quite unfamiliar to me but the two HK commercials. 

 

Could be these is art house, could be banned,  obviously not popular. Until today that I know 活着 is banned, but it means nothing, it just mean it is not on the air. For at least 10 years , majority watch everything online unless it was not online or for iMAX, 3D sounds etc..

 

 you can check the rating on douban,  https://movie.douban.com/subject/1292365/, 9.2 out of 10. Douban.com  is the ultimate and most pop website for average Chinese mainlanders .

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Luxi
1 hour ago, Bibu said:

Until today that I know 活着 is banned

 

It was banned when first released (1994) because it showed the CCP in a bad light, but the ban was lifted later. Zhang Yimou was banned from making films for 2 years. The ban was lifted in 2008 after Zhang produced the films for the Olympics. The book was also banned for a very long time.

 

Yellow Earth (黄土地) was banned at first but 'liberated' later. 

 

You may be surprised at how many of China's best films, international award winners and all, were banned. This list (which is not 'fake news') also gives the reasons for the ban:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_censorship_in_China

This list may not be complete, I'm almost sure The Black Cannon Incident (黑炮事件) was also banned - maybe it still is. It was a really funny film!

 

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Bibu
31 minutes ago, Luxi said:

The Black Cannon Incident (

That is banned? unbelievable. I lost the details of this but i know the name and some sences very well. I do remember it is a well received movie of the time, sort of realistic with ironic. All in all, a brand new type after culture revolution.

 

BTW, the GFW is nothing for chinese,  i do believe the gov knows GWF is nothing. If you are a true lover of Chinese movie, yo would get it , not a big deal.

 

a nice movie 钢的琴 is recommended. I do not watch movie often, this one looks touching for me in recent years. 亲爱的not bad  as well:https://movie.douban.com/subject/25798222/

 

last check on douban, 黑炮事件 is fine on air.

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Luxi
27 minutes ago, Bibu said:

last check on douban, 黑炮事件 is fine on air.

 

I'm glad it is! And thanks for your movie recommendation.

 

28 minutes ago, Bibu said:

If you are a true lover of Chinese movie, yo would get it ,

 

I know! Even in the 1990s, before the world wide web and VPNs, there was a very active exchange of tapes going on among my Chinese 留学生 friends.  

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abcdefg
13 hours ago, Bibu said:

For at least 10 years , majority watch everything online unless it was not online or for iMAX, 3D sounds etc..

 

Interesting. Once again, I am behind the times. 

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Bibu
26 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

I am behind the times

watching those lovely chaos in front,  is the  privilege for us, right?

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Balthazar

I've only seen six of the films. It says "great" and not "greatest", so I must resist the temptation to rage at some of the omissions 😃.

 

... but not completely.

 

Really surprised to see Mountains May Depart on that list, which is really one of Jia Zhangke's weakest films (Platform or Unkown Pleasures would have been better picks from him IMO. Still Life is also really good, and made it to the list). Quite surprised to see The Grandmaster on there too...

 

The most glaring omission, IMO, is Yi Yi, which is probably my favorite Chinese language film of all times only behind A Brighter Summer Day by the same director. I'd have liked to see Devils on the Doorstep on there too, which is pretty fantastic. A black comedy about Japan's invasion of China, temporarily banned in China, allegedly due to

not displaying a strong enough hatred towards the Japanese invaders (hard to forget how good a director Jiang Wen was back then, his In the Heat of the Sun is another outstanding film).

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