The Cinema of Zhang Yimou
Wednesday, May 30 - Thursday, June 7, 2007
MGM has struck a brand new print of this Chinese director's most dazzling film so we use the occasion as an excuse to highlight some of the gems from his long career. This series kicks off with two days of screenings of the brand new 35mm print of RAISE THE RED LANTERN starring Yimou's early career muse Gong Li. We also feature many of his other major period pieces including JU DOU and TO LIVE alongside some of his more recent (and more personal) films (THE ROAD HOME, RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES) and, of course, his most recent U.S. release CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER in concert with his other two epic, action-adventure movies, HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS.
Film Descriptions, Dates & Showtimes
Raise The Red Lantern
(1991) dir Zhang Yimou w/ Gong Li [125 min]
In 1920s China, Songlian (the incomparable Gong Li) is forced, after her father’s death, to become the fourth wife of Master Chen, a wealthy magnate. Each kept in a separate house on the master’s compound, the wives plot against one another as they vie for their husband’s attentions. Perhaps the best example of the exquisite cinematography and meticulous storytelling for which director Zhang Yimou is known.
(1990) dir Zhang Yimou w/ Gong Li, Wei Li [95 min]
JU DOU tells the story of a young wife (the title character) of a cruel mill owner in rural China. Intent on producing an heir, but unwilling to admit his own sexual inadequacy, her husband has driven two previous wives to their deaths. When she succeeds in producing an heir, Ju Dou knows she must never tell her husband the truth: that the father is Tianqing, Jinshan’s nephew.
Double Feature w/ The Road Home
(1994) dir Zhang Yimou w/ Gong Li, Ge You, Niu Ben [125 min]
In 1940s China, an inveterate gambler loses everything: his land, his fortune, and, finally, his wife. Forced to produce puppet shows in the street to survive, he finds himself rewarded by fate, and the Communist party. The first of Zhang’s films to examine the scope of recent history through the personal stories of his characters.
Double Feature w/ To Live
The Road Home
(1999) dir Zhang Yimou w/Gong Li, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng [89 min]
Another portrait of modern China as seen through the eyes of inidividuals, THE ROAD HOME is the story of a young couple and their courtship as seen in reminiscence by their son. As a young man, the father comes to a remote village to serve as its schoolmaster and meets a beautiful young woman determined to grasp her destiny.
Double Feature w/ Happy Times
The Story of Qiu Ju
(1992) dir Zhang Yimou w/Gong Li, Ge Zhijun, Liu Peiqi [100 min]
This satiric parable follows the title character as she moves upwards through the bureaucracy of the Chinese government, seeking justice for her husband, who was humiliated by their village chief. A rare comedic turn by this esteemed director.
Monday, June 4 at 5:00, 9:30
Double Feature w/ The Story of Qiu Ju
(2000) dir Zhang Yimou w/Benshan Zhao, Jie Dong, Lifan Dong [102 min]
Verging on screwball comedy, HAPPY TIMES is one of Zhang’s most lighthearted films. An aging bachelor finds his ‘perfect’ mate but must come up with the money needed to marry her. As a way to raise cash, he and his friends remake an abandoned bus over into a love hotel. This scheme quickly becomes more complicated as his future bride insists that he give her blind stepdaughter a job.
Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles
(2005) dir Zhang Yimou w/Ken Takakura [107 min]
A Japanese father whose estranged son has been striken with cancer travels to a remote region of China to complete his son’s passion: a film about a legendary folk-opera singer. It’s a simple premise, but in the hands of this master filmmaker, RIDING ALONE becomes a poignant evocation of a man discovering himself, his son, and the larger world all at the same time.
Double Feature w/ House of Flying Daggers
Curse of The Golden Flower
(2006) dir Zhang Yimou w/Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li [114 min]
Zhang’s most recent film is another of his historic action epics, and it reunites him with his early career muse, Gong Li. There is a distinct air of Shakespearean tragedy about CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER with an Emperor (Chow) facing a palace full of secrets, an unfaithful Empress (Li), and a rebellion at his palace gates.
Double Feature w/ Curse of The Golden Flower
House of Flying Daggers
(2004) dir Zhang Yimou w/Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi [119 min]
An exemplary action thriller, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS features a love triangle that develops between two rival police officers and a blind and beautiful suspected member of a rebel faction.
(2002) dir Zhang Yimou w/Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Daoming Chen, Donnie Yen [95 min]
In Zhang’s first gorgeous martial arts epic, Jet Li is a warrior who gains an audience with the king by killing three assassins (Cheung, Leung and Yen) who have threatened the king for many years.