Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Xiao Wu / Pickpocket

HK/CN 1997. PC: Radiant Advertising / Hu Tong Communication, Beijing Film Academy. P: Li Kit Ming, Jia Zhangke. EX: Wang Hong Wei. D+SC: Jia Zhang-ke. DP: Yu Lik Wai – 16 mm. AD: Liang Jing Dong. ED: Lin Xiaoling. Cast: Wang Hongwei (Xiao Wu), Hao Hongjian (Meimei), Zu Baitao, Ma Jinrei, Liu Junying, Liang Yong Hao, An Qunyan, Jiang Dongdong, Zhao Long, Wang Reiren, Gao Jiunfeng, Li Renzhu, Wu Juan. 107 min. A Tamasa / Celluloid Dreams print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Jia Zhang-ke / Helsinki Festival), 24 Aug 2011.

Sampled an early feature film by Jia Zhang-ke, who switched from video to 16 mm film while retaining his almost documentary sense of authenticity. Jia Zhang-ke reacted against the fifth generation filmmakers' way of story-telling and instead tuned his antennae to the undercurrents of modern life. Wang Hongwei, Jia Zhang-ke's alter ego, stars as the pickpocket. In contrast to the pickpocket films of Fuller and Bresson Jia Zhang-ke presents his protagonist as a barometer of the rapidly changing society. Xiao Wu starts to lose his friends because they are ashamed of him. An old fellow criminal is now a model enterpreneur. But also rich big league smugglers are admired. Jia Zhang-ke has a sensitivity to the rhythm of the rapidly changing life in China. The visual quality is soft because of the 16 mm photography, but the image looks lively on this print.

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