Archive for July 14, 2012
Actor Tony Leung in a series of stills released for the Chinese spy movie “The Silent War” (“Ting Feng Zhe”). The film is co-directed by Felix Chong and Alan Mak and is set to be released in local cinemas on August 10. It features Leung as a blind man who uses his unusually good hearing to his advantage. Zhou plays his mentor. (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese director Chen Kaige’s new film “Caught in the Web” is a far cry from his usual style. Featuring a number of famous actors such as Wang Xueqi, Chen Hong, Yao Chen, Gao Yuanyuan and Mark Chao, the film examines a social phenomenon that is very modern and up-to-date in a society increasingly dependent on the Internet. And that’s not the only “modern” part of this film. Our movie reviewer Luo Laiming has more.
Chen Kaige is nothing short of a leader among Chinese directors. His best films are always characterized by his own perception of traditional Chinese culture. Yet, apparently, he is also experimenting with modern ideas. His 2005 production “The Promise”, which turned out to be his major fiasco, was just one of the bad examples. After that, Chen retreated to his comfort zone and made two more traditional films before he set out to create “Caught in the Web”, perhaps the most modern of all his productions.
The new film is modern in many senses. First of all, it tells a story in our contemporary, Internet-based society. It all begins on a bus when white-collar worker Ye Lanqiu, played by Gao Yuanyuan, refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen. Her defiance is videotaped by a journalist intern and played during a news show. The video sparks intense debate on and off the Internet. Some Internet users search for Ye’s personal information and post it all online. The issue soon brings tremendous changes to the families of both the journalist intern and Ye’s boss.
The online search for and disclosure of people’s personal information has been a recent topic of debate in Chinese society. And the media’s role in creating controversial issues has also been called into question. Both are topics worth exploring in modern-day China, and Chen’s attempt indicates his decision to stay in tune with the modern world. This is one giant leap for him, because Chen used to focus on legends and ancient Chinese history.
Apart from using modern topics, Chen Kaige has also revolutionized the way he presents the story. Based on a novel that was once popular online, the film retains its multiple narrative perspectives. Many top-notch actors are among the cast members, and they each fulfill their parts successfully, the most impressive being Wang Xueqi and Yao Chen. To incorporate so many big stars into one film demands skill, and Chen proves that he has it.
The modern dimension can also be found in the editing of the film. For the length of two hours, the story develops at a quick pace, so that viewers are always fed with excitement before they get bored. This style is often seen in recent films, but definitely a tentative maneuver on the part of Chen.
However, “Caught in the Web” is not without flaws. To a certain extent, Chen Kaige has persisted with his own style. As previously mentioned, he poses many questions worth exploring in the film. This is in line with his personal characteristics as a director who wishes to add a cultural dimension to his productions. The questions represent Chen’s reflections on modern society. But the excessive number of such questions has led to a lack of focus in the film.
“Caught in the Web” symbolizes Chen Kaige’s decision to keep himself updated with the changes of contemporary China. In a way, he has given up his aspiration to be a GREAT director and taken up the rather modest task of just telling a good story. I’ll say he’s done a good job. On a scale from one to ten, I give “Caught in the Web” a seven.