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Last Train Home-Movie Review *** 09/19/2013

Posted by dbinder in Asia Pacific Film Awards, Chinese language film, Documentary, Genie Awards, Movies, News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Sundance Film Festival.
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Last Train Home (Chinese) 2009 ***

Documentary film
Directed by Lixin Fan
Starring Zhang Changhua, Chen Suqin, Zhang Qin, Zhang Yang, and Tang Tingsui

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Documentary Feature Film, Asia Pacific Screen Awards
WINNER, Best Documentary, Genie Awards
WINNER, Emmy Award-Best Documentary and Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form, News and Documentary Emmy Awards
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema – Documentary (Lixin Fan), Sundance Film Festival

This documentary film illustrates the damaging effect of migrant work on several generations of a family. Changhua and his wife, Suqin, who work in the big city, try to return to their home in a rural area of China for the annual Chinese New Year holiday. The parents, who have lived away from home since their children were born, must join the throngs of others trying to get to the countryside at the same time. They will wait for expensive, crowded, and infrequent trains at the Guangzhou Train Station.

Director Lixin Fan has managed to capture some very honest reactions, especially from the rebellious teenage daughter who has also moved to the big city. We learn about the deplorable living and working conditions of the migrant workers, as well as why they left their home and who is left behind there.

Highly recommended.

87 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens.


Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles-Movie Review 12/14/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Chinese language film, Drama, Emotional Drama, Japanese language film, Movies.
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Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Japanese/Chinese) 2005

Winner, Best Foreign Language Film; Best Actor (Takakura), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards
Winner, Best Asian Film, Hong Kong Film Awards

Directed by Zhang Yimou
Starring Ken Takakura, Li Jiamin, and Yang Zhenbo

When Japanese father Gouichi Takata (Takakura) learns that his estranged son has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he tries to meet with him but the son still refuses. To make amends, the father feels compelled to travel to China to complete the work his son, a documentary filmmaker, spent years on, the filming of a folk opera called Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.

The story starts out slowly but picks up as Gouichi travels to the remote countryside of China, where the scenery is strikingly beautiful. Trying to deal with an unknown country and an unfamiliar culture, he begins making decisions that are led by his heart rather than his head. While trying to help Li Jiamin (Jiamin), the jailed star of the mask opera, patch his relationship with his five-year-old son Yang Yang (Zhenbo), Gouichi receives news that his own son has died, leaving behind a letter of forgiveness.

Director Zhang Yimou, who is usually known for more action-oriented films such as House of Flying Daggers, handles the emotional journey undertaken by an old man very well. Adding to the cultural authenticity, many locals were used, including the translator Jasmine, tour guide Qui, and folk opera artist Li Jiamin.

107 min. Rated PG

For more about Zhang Yimou

Blind Mountain-Movie Review 05/04/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true story, Chinese language film, Drama, Emotional Drama, Movies.
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Blind Mountain (Chinese) 2007

Winner, Grand Prix (Li); Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Special Mention (Li), Bratislava International Film Festival
Winner, FACE Award (Li), Istanbul International Film Festival

Directed by Li Yang and starring Lu Huang.

Based on true events and set in Northern China in the early 1990s. A young female college graduate is kidnapped and sold as a bride in the back country of China, where she faces harsh treatment from her new husband and his family. With no money and no help from the other townspeople, her situation seems hopeless, but still she refuses to give in and accept her new life.

Not a light story but the fact that such an event was possible not long ago (and still might be) is frightening and infuriating. Worthwhile viewing.

95 min. Unrated. Adult themes.