sat 16/12/2017

China

Human Flow review - two hours of human misery

Soaring over an expanse of blue sea, a white bird traverses the screen diagonally. Gliding unhindered through the air, it is the embodiment of freedom; by contrast, the movement of people down below is constrained by border crossings and passport...

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Chris Patten: First Confession - A Sort of Memoir review - remembrances of government and power

It’s 25 years since Chris Patten lost his seat as Conservative MP for Bath. The 1992 election was called by an embattled prime minister, bruised by the Maastricht Treaty (remember “the bastards”?). Neil Kinnock had been expected to win, Labour ahead...

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Sunday Book: Yiyun Li - Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life

Yiyun Li’s fiction comes garlanded in praise from authors and journals that don’t ladle it out carelessly, so it feels almost churlish to cavil over a memoir written during the course of two years while the author battled serious mental health...

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DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall is David Icke’s worst nightmare. David Icke (if you weren’t there in the 1980s) was a BBC snooker presenter. After ingesting a brain-rotting anti-elixir, he transmogrified into a doolally conspiracy theorist in a turquoise shell suit...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Black Society Trilogy

Mixing up your yakuzas and your triads can be a bloody business, as Takashi Miike’s films show in the goriest detail. The title of the earliest work in his “Black Society” trilogy, Shinjuku Triad Society from 1995, says it all – a Chinese...

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DVD: The Music of Strangers

A welcome antidote to the mood of a time which seems hell-bent on closing borders and building walls, The Music of Strangers is about a unique musical collective that breaks through division and reaffirms the potential of culture to unite. Subtitled...

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DVD: Around China With a Movie Camera

It’s comforting to reflect that some of the anonymous children seen in Around China With a Movie Camera – a DVD culled from films spanning 1900-48 held in the BFI National Archive – must live on today. If only the means existed to identify...

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The Silk Road, BBC Four

Terracotta warriors, Bactrian two-humped camels, Heavenly Horses, Buddhist caves, sand dunes, the world’s first printed book, a silk factory and temples galore including one that was the great mosque in Xi’an, were but some of the ingredients in a...

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The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, Arcola Theatre

The playwright Anders Lustgarten has spent a considerable chunk of his life reading and writing and thinking about China, and clearly wants to set a few points straight. Tired of the persistent Western view of that country and its people as...

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One Child, BBC Two

Last year China began formally to phase out the one-child policy which had been in place since 1979. So a drama called One Child arrives at the right time. It forms the least worshipful component of the BBC’s current China season, which mainly...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien

The mesmerising martial arts drama The Assassin consolidates the reputation of the Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien as one of world cinema’s pre-eminent artists. Every film he has made since the emergence of his mature aesthetic – grounded...

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