If you’re like Shanghaiist, you like going to the movies. And if you’re like Shanghaiist, you rarely go to the movies in Shanghai — because, well, most of the movies that show here are crap. (And because you can buy 10 DVDs on the street for the price of one ticket to the theater.) Thank God then for the Shanghai International Film Festival, which concludes this weekend. Finally, we get some indie and art house fare on the big screen. Right? Right?
Well, you tell me. This year’s SIFF, the eighth annual event, includes high-brow offerings such as The Pacifier, Alien vs. Predator, Ice Princess, 13 Going On 30, Van Helsing, Meet the Fockers and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. That’s an average Metacritic score of 42, people.
OK, with that off our chest, we should note that the festival also includes plenty of films that are worth seeing: Sideways, Vera Drake, Big Fish, Sin City, Hotel Rwanda, We Don’t Live Here Anymore to name a handful. But many of them are kind of old, films that would have shown on the real festival circuit years ago. Still, some of them would be nice to see on the big screen instead of a pirated screener with “For Review Purposes Only” flashing on the bottom of the screen.
Speaking of old, Fei Mu’s classic 1948 chamber drama Spring in a Small Town is also showing. The Hong Kong Film Awards Association named that the best Chinese-language film of all time.
The SIFF also includes many films that Shanghaiist admittedly has never heard of. So for those, we defer to That’s Shanghai reviewer Wayne Hsu’s recommendations. Some of them look pretty interesting, especially the Hitler pic Downfall, which is getting excellent reviews. Shanghaiist has had beers with Wayne and you have our word that he is a good guy (and deceivingly young looking). Another friend of Shanghaiist recommends two Chinese films: buzzworthy director Jia Zhangke’s The World and Lu Yue’s The Foliage.
Hurry up, though. The festival closes on Sunday and some of these films don’t show after tonight. Here is the somewhat cumbersome festival schedule.