“David Cronenberg and William S. Burroughs invite you to lunch”. This Tuesday´s SubCinema at Dada presents Naked Lunch, (1991) a partially biographical interpretation of William Burroughs book with the same name. It might be a bit dark and gory, but isn´t that how we know Cronenberg´s movies best?
In it we see Burroughs’s as one of the legendary “beat writers” (with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg) who emerged in the late 1950s. In the lead role, Peter Weller (Robocop) is said to do “a dead-on Burroughs impression”,
Not an adaptation of beat writer William S. Burrough’s novel but a mix of biography and an interpretation of his drug- induced writing processes combined with elements of his work in this paranoid fantasy about Bill Lee, a writer who accidentally shoots his wife, whose typewriter transforms into a cockroach and who becomes involved in a mysterious plot in an Islamic port called Interzone. Wonderfully bizarre, not unlike Burrough’s books.
In the forerunner to the film, Burroughs novel from 1959, “the reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone.” The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes, (which Burroughs called “routines”), drawn from Burroughs’ own experience in these places and his addiction to drugs. The book was included in Time magazine’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
The film is not exactly faithful to the novel. Cronenberg has instead provided it with a framework that begins and ends with Lee shooting his wife Joan (Judy Davis) during a botched William Tell routine, just as Burroughs did in real life. It follows a bizarre logic and has a dark mysterious ambience and sometimes confusing plot. Except for winning the Golden Berlin Bear the film as 13 other film award wins on its list,
David Cronenberg is the director behind Videodrome (1983), Dead Ringers (1988), eXistenZ (1999) and Eastern Promises (2007) among many more. Most of his films – Naked Lunch is no exception – are quite squishy and full of biological dread which for the more sensitive viewer might appear a bit repulsive. But he is also a master of raising interesting philosophic questions about the human psyche. And it´s always very tantalizing.
Click for info about where and when to see Naked lunch.
Check out what other movies are showing in Shanghai this coming week. Links lead to info about times and venues.
- Vienna Cafe Short Film Night: Made in Shanghai, short films by Shanghai based indie filmmakers (additional screening): Due to popular demand, Vienna Cafe is going to do an additional screening of Shanghai indie short films on Thursday 6 May 2010. Vienna Cafe’s gets four Shanghai based indie filmmakers together on Thursday 6 May for another gathering evening for film lovers of the city. We delightedly present Richard Trombly, Eric Heise and Tim Chu and their short films. Coming from different backgrounds, the four filmmakers are all living and making films in Shanghai. A discussion with the filmmakers will be held after the screening. The Films: “Shattered” (Tim Chu), “Business Class” (Eric Heise), “Waiting” (Richard Trombly) “Melon Harvest” (Richard Trombly). Chinese with English subtitles. Thursday 29 April, 19:30. It’s a free event, with limited seating.
- Cine吗？Presents: Asian Film Club – Shanghai Triad: A biweekly showcase of Asian films presented by a professional film scholar. Embark on a cinematic journey across the four corners of Asia, discover rare, offbeat, popular and classic movies. Sessions to be held in English. First round is Asian Gangster Films. This Thursday: Catch the 1995 Chinese film “Shanghai Triad”, directed by Yimou Zhang and starring Gong Li. It tells the story of Shuisheng, a country-boy whose Shanghai-living uncle brings him to the big city to work for the leader of a powerful drug empire. RSVP required. Doors at 8pm, movie starts at 8:30pm. Price 80, includes a drink. The movie is in Chinese (Mandarin) with English subtitles.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Clash of the Titans (诸神之战): “The Clash of the Titans” is set in the Greek city of Argos where a war is about to explode between man and the gods. Perseus (Sam Worthington) raised as a fisherman, but is actually a demi-god. Perseus is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) who is about to take on the gods after the death of his family. Zeus’ brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) was the one who killed his family, and Perseus wants to kill him. However, it is Perseus’s destiny to rescue the city of Argos from the ruthless rage of Hades and his Kraken monster. With nothing to lose, Perseus leads a band of soldiers on a quest to defeat the Kraken. In doing this, Perseus will prevent Hades from overthrowing Zeus and in turn destroying mankind.
- Alice in Wonderland (爱丽丝梦游仙境): In the film, Alice is now nineteen years old and accidentally returns to Underland (misheard by Alice and believed to be called Wonderland), a place she visited thirteen years previously. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants.
CHINESE LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Antecedent Trial (预审): In Antecedent Trial, a police interrogator dips deep into the secret behind the death of his young colleague.
- A Singing Fairy (寻找刘三姐): Suspiciously made for promoting tourism for China’s Guangxi Province, A Singing Fairy tells an American born Chinese guy’s journey of song searching and wife seeking. It will be the third film based on the story of the classic Chinese figure Liu Sanjie. Unlike the previous two films, this one describes a modern love story caused by the legend of Liu Sanjie.
Alec Su plays a Chinese American named Wei Wende who is a music academy graduate who returns home to get inspiration. While traveling around Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wei falls in love with his tour guide, Liu Tiantian, played by Eva Huang. The most anticipated part of the film is the unique folk songs and dances of different minorities, such as the Zhuang, Tong, Yao and Jing ethnic groups. All of these are represented in the aesthetic culture of Guangxi.
- Like a Dream (如梦): Hong Kong director Clara Law’s romantic and dreamlike drama “Like A Dream” is a story of a Chinese-American man who travels to China to look for his imaginary love. Daniel Wu co-produces and also stars as Max, a computer engineer whose dreams start intruding dangerously on his waking life. Max’s dreams are his current obsession; each evening he sees himself in an empty city, where he chaperones a white-clad young woman (Yolanda Yuan) grieving the loss of a former boyfriend. Max’s dreams have an adverse affect on his office demeanor, so his colleagues send him on a forced vacation to Shanghai where he somehow ends up with a roll of photos of the mystery woman, who apparently exists in real life. Intrigued and more than a little unhinged, he returns again and again to China, finally finding a sassy country girl (also Yuan) who looks exactly like his dream girl…
- A Side B Side / The Double Life (A面B面): Famous sixth generation director Ning Ying’s comedy starring Zhang Jingchu is set in a mental hospital, and has been billed as China’s first mental institute-based black comedy. This is Zhang Jingchu’s first attempt at comedy, depicting a glamorous model suffering from depression.
- Black Cat Detective (黑猫警长): One of the most popular animated television series in China in the 1980s is now a feature-length film. THe original five stories of the animated series are merged into one, with some modern touches. According to director Dai Tielang, who created the original series, there are no major changes. The popular theme song is remixed and trendy modern elements have been added to some dialogue and to the settings.
- East Wind, Rain (东风雨): In the film, Fan Bingbing plays a spy during WWII. In order to fulfill her mission and keep the organization’s information secret, she sacrifices herself. Director Liu set the film, which takes place in Shanghai, before and after the attack on Pearl Harbour. The Shanghai of 1941, as presented in the movie, is filled with spies working for different countries and organizations. An Ming, a Chinese agent, works undercover as a pianist in a local pub. He decodes the “East Wind, Rain” message and tries to pass on the information. Director Liu plays An Ming.
- Go Lala Go! / Du Lala’s Promotion (杜拉拉升职记): Helmed by actress-turned-director Xu Jinglei, the film is adapted from a novel entitled “Du Lala’s Promotion”. The best-seller centers on a woman named Du Lala who takes the high road to get promoted. The film stars director Xu Jinglei herself as Du Lala, as well as Stanley Huang, Karen Mok, Li Ai, and Pace Wu.
- Beauty on Duty (美丽密令): A rookie policewoman (Choi) rescues a witness of a murder case during her first patrol. The witness is willing to testify against the murderer only if the police team protects his daughter. As a result of this, the rookie is forced to participate in the “Miss Asia Beauty Pageant” together with the girl to ensure she is safe by her side.
OTHER LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Skate or Die (生死逃亡): Skate or Die from 2008 is an attempt at marrying the cool urban youth culture of Kids with a traditional modern action film. Mickey and Idriss, two young skaters quietly going about their business, find themselves witnesses to a triple homicide. Spotted by the murderers, they take to their heels, quickly understanding that it is a matter of life or death. Taking refuge in a police station, they discover that the criminals are in fact crooked cops, but it’s too late, and the alarm has been raised. Then begins a breathless chase through the streets of Paris. Relentlessly hunted down, Mickey and Idriss will try anything in order to escape the hands of these unscrupulous killers. Skate or die…
- Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (叶问2：宗师传奇): Two years after the film “Ip Man” (叶问) a sequel is now released, once again under the direction of Wilson Yip (Yip Wai Shun) and with Donnie Yen in the leading role. The film follows Ip Man, the kung fu master who among others taught Bruce Lee some of his tricks and kicks. After killing a Japanese army official to defend his honor, Ip Man flees to Hong Kong with his family to start a new life. Ip attempts to propagate his discipline of Wing Chun, but faces rivalry from other practitioners, including the local master of Hung Ga martial arts. In Cantonese.
- Echoes of the Rainbow (岁月神偷): This 2009 Hong Kong film directed by Alex Law stars Simon Yam and Sandra Ng. It won the Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the Children’s Jury “Generation Kplus” category at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. The film depicts Hong Kong in the striving 60s, as seen through the eyes of a child. Nosy, naughty and always running into trouble, the kid observes with wit and humor the ever changing society of Hong Kong. The story revolves around the kid and his family – a working class father, a happy-go-lucky mother, an aspiring, starry-eyed elder brother, and our young protagonist himself. Through the elder brother’s first romance, and the family’s encounters with love, hope, failure, death and rebirth, we travel back to a place called old Hong Kong, a time we’ll always remember, and a place we have always called home.
- El Orfanato / The Orphanage (孤堡惊情): The former orphan Laura raises her adopted son Simón with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. Simón is HIV positive and tells Laura that he has five invisible friends, and she believes they are fruit of his imagination. Laura decides to reopen an orphanage for handicapped children in the location and during the opening party, Simón calls her to show the little cabin of his friend Tomás. The busy Laura does not gives much attention to her son; then she sees a mysterious masked boy and Simón vanishes. Laura feels the presence of other persons in the house and months later, the desperate Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery. In Spanish.
- Yuet Gwong Bo Hup / Just Another Pandora’s Box (越光宝盒): Hong Kong director Jeffrey Lau, the director of last years “Metallic Attraction: Kungfu Cyborg” is already out with another comedy. With “Just Another Pandora’s Box” he´s trying to make fun of many classic movies, including one of his own, “Chinese Odyssey”. The story revolves around a bandit and an immortal girl who is in love with him, as they travel back to the Three Kingdom Period, on the eve of the Battle of Red Cliff…Or as another plot summary tells it: an idiot embarks on an adventurous journey with the help of a magic box during the period of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China.
- Crossing Henessey (月满轩尼诗): “Crossing Hennessy” is an engagingly fresh and enjoyable dramatic comedy that makes great use of its Hong Kong locations as it delves into the romantic complications of modern urban life. 41-year-old slacker Loy (Jacky Cheung) sleeps in all the time and doesn´t do much with his life. His widowed but flamboyant mom (Paw Hee-ching) sets him up on a matchmaking dim sum lunch with Oi Lin (Tang Wei), a quiet mainland girl-next-door (well, a few streets away). Before long, mom starts to arrange the marriage details, not knowing that Loy is still into, and seeing his ex-girlfriend, who´s now divorced and back on the market. Meanwhile Oi Lin is waiting for her bad boy lover to get out of jail soon. Directed by Ivy Ho. In Cantonese and Mandarin.
- Future X-Cops (未来警察): A police officer (Andy Lau) from the year 2085 accidentally arrives in the year 2010. He meets a fellow police officer (Barbie Hsu) and they team up to take on an international crime syndicate. In Cantonese.