Friday, April 10, 2009

"Still Life" (2006, Dir: Zhang Ke Jia)

Director Jia tries to reconcile pretentious art-house quirk (spaceships? wtf?) with a kind of lackadaisical navel gazing that he tries to pass off as "meditation" and "contemplation" in this soporific exercise. Trying to create an impression of emotional heft when there is really none to be found, Jia manages only to create an insular, sprawling bore of a film that, if it ever succeeds, does so on the credit of its stunning Yangtze River scenery and lead actress Tao Zhao's likeable performance (the nonpro supporting actors are atrocious). How did this win at Venice? And why did LAFCA join in the circle jerk? One of the few pluses in this film (aside from Zhao and the entrancing landscape sequences) is the abundance of muscular, shirtless Asian men. However, seeing them only reminded me of how I would rather be watching porn than a slow, boring, pointless film such as this one. Potentially interesting as a snapshot of the contemporary Chinese lower-class, but that's about it.

Grade: D

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