Shanghaiist was thinking about how to characterize a movie like this: We mulled over “worst movie we’ve ever seen,” and thought this too harsh, as there are probably loads of worse movies that we’ve seen but have repressed the memory of. And we hope the same happens with this movie.
The ensemble includes Hong Kong starlet Cecilia Cheung (Zhang Baizhi), Hu Ge, and most importantly, the cinematic debut of Super Voice Girl No. 2 Zhou Bichang. Zhou plays the cute but lovable loser (her name is Yi Shu, a play on the characters of “easy to lose,” or in other words, “loser”) that has nothing going for her. To make matters worse, her mobile phone number is included in a list of 600 numbers of celebrities that is released on the internet. She is flooded with calls from adoring fans of a female pop star (Cheung). They are mostly an annoyance, except for one — a gifted young songwriter with a terminal illness (Hu Ge).
We can’t even bear recalling Hu Ge’s face as he grabs the tufts of his hair falling out and coughs up blood — it’s like trying to watch soap opera rejects make an indie film. Excruciating. But it gets worse: Cheung plays a songstress with a conscience — she lives for the music, and when it becomes apparent to her unscrupulous record company boss (actor-director Zhang Guoli) seems to care only for a money, she threatens to quit and even commit suicide. Of course, Zhang’s character does nothing because her death will boost record sales of her latest albums. What makes her change her mind as she wobbles on a patio several stories above the ground? A good song, written by that terminally ill songwriter — the musical inspiration that she’d been looking for, the thing that gives her a new lease on life even as the songwriter’s own life expires. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Zhou Bichang can’t really act, though this is forgivable given that all the actors, regardless of their ability, were hamstrung by a script with a single digit IQ. Our last complaint (we promise) is the obviousness with which the sponsors — China Mobile, Sony Ericsson, and Audi — got their soft ads. We’d seen something similar with Feng Xiaogang’s movie Cell Phone, where there was a similarly gratuitous number of close-ups of mobile phones. One commenter characterized (in Chinese) the movie as a 90 minute commercial for Sony-Ericsson.
As mentioned in GigShanghai, Shanghai band Blue Garden (蓝色花园), aka Orchid, had bit parts in the movie. They have mostly non-speaking roles as the band behind the terminally ill singer-songwriter. Although we don’t know the guys personally, we can only imagine the scene where the director says to them “OK, in this scene, you’re at the hospital looking at your terminally ill friend through the glass, and you’re real sad, okay? Sad. He’s going to die. We’ve got fresh onions in the back if you need them.”
Recent weeks have brought us the banning of film director Lou Ye and the surprising success, at the Venice Film Festival, of Jia Zhangke. There are Chinese directors making interesting movies, but they are art film directors. We like all kinds of films, but when mainstream films like 601 and The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang’s Chinese costume drama/martial arts remake of Hamlet to be released in theaters on September 15) suck ass, all we can do is pray that that Lou Ye’s Summer Palace and Jia Zhangke’s Still Life will come out on DVD soon and rescue us from Chinese movie hell.
Photo from ent.dayoo.com.