At the beginning of each month, CFI posts a comprehensive list of Chinese film screenings in NYC and LA. To help you better understand China through cinema, we include films that are made by Chinese filmmakers, set in China, or tell Chinese stories. Here is what to see in January.
Happy New Year!
Adoring 宠爱 (Larry Yang, 107 min, 2020)
Opens on January 3 at AMC theatres
Pet center owner and vet Vivian provides medical care for all pets in the community; she witnesses six heart-warming stories among the pets and their owners. The six stories are interconnected with laughter and tears, until every family’s problem is eventually resolved. The pets and their humans then live happily ever after.
Liberation 解放 终局营救 (Chang Xiaoyang & Li Shaohong, 103 min, 2019)
Opens on January 10 at AMC theatres
Based on real-life events, the film is set in January 1949 and focuses around a group of soldiers involved in the final stages of the Battle of Pingjin.
I Wish I Knew 海上传奇 (Jia Zhangke, 118 min, 2010)
DIRECTOR’S CUT / FIRST U.S. RELEASE
Shanghai’s past and present flow together in Jia Zhangke’s poetic and poignant portrait of this fast-changing port city. Restoring censored images and filling in forgotten facts, Jia provides an alternative version of 20th century China’s fraught history as reflected through life in the Yangtze city. He builds his narrative through a series of 18 interviews with people from all walks of life—politicians’ children, ex-soldiers, criminals, and artists (including Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien)— while returning regularly to the image of his favorite lead actress, Zhao Tao, wandering through the Shanghai World Expo Park. (The film was commissioned by the World Expo, but is anything but a piece of straightforward civic boosterism.) A richly textured tapestry full of provocative juxtapositions.
The Rescue 紧急救援 (Dante Lim, 2020)
Opens on January 24 at AMC theatres
A rescue unit within the Chinese Coast Guard are forced to overcome their personal differences to resolve a crisis.
Detective Chinatown 3 唐人街探案 (Chen Sicheng, 136 min, 2020)
Opens on January 24 at AMC theatres
After the events in Bangkok and New York, a major crime occurs in Tokyo. Detectives Tang Ren (starring Wang Baoqiang) and Qin Feng (starring Liu Haoran) are invited to investigate the crime by Noda Hiroshi (starring Tsumabuki Satoshi). The case becomes even more suspicious as more detectives on the Crimaster list join the challenge, including the top-ranked Q. A battle between the strongest detectives in Asia is about to break out with bursts of laughter!
Still in theatre:
Chinese Portrait 我的镜头 (Wang Xiaoshuai, 79 min, 2019)
Screens at Lumiere Cinema (LA)
From acclaimed director Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle; So Long, My Son) comes a personal snapshot of contemporary China in all its diversity. Shot over the course of ten years on both film and video, the film consists of a series of carefully composed tableaus of people and environments, each one more extraordinary than the last.
Only Cloud Knows 只有芸知道 (Feng Xiaogang, 132 min, 2019)
Screens at AMC theatres
The romance revolves around a Chinese widower who returns to New Zealand after the death of his wife. There he discovers that she held secrets in her past. Retracing the journey of their courtship, he seeks to fulfill a dream she never had a chance to complete.
Ip Man 4: The Finale 叶问4 (Wilson Yip, 105 min, 2019)
Ip Man’s life remains unchanged after his wife’s death, but he and his son are slowly drifting apart. To seek a better future for his son, Ip Man decides to travel to the U.S. only to find the stable, peaceful life abroad is only skin deep. Underneath lies a deep rooted racial discrimination that is far worse than he has expected. Ip Man re-examines his position and ponders on the reason he took up martial arts in the beginning.
One Child Nation (Nanfu Wang & Jialing Zhang, 89 min, 2019)
After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
FILM SERIES & SPECIAL SCREENINGS
This survey of some of the greatest films of 2019 also serves as an annual celebration of the vibrancy and elasticity of the cinematic arts. Starting with January festival premieres and continuing through holiday releases, 2019 was among the best film years in memory.
Ash Is Purest White 江湖儿女 (Jia Zhangke, 136 mins, 2018)
Screens on January 4
With his modern-day wuxia A Touch of Sin (2013), mainland Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke abruptly changed lanes from the realist aesthetics that had established his bonafides, in works such as Platform and Still Life, to a more mixed mode where realism infuses and enlivens the traditional structures of genre and melodrama.
American Factory 美国工厂 (Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, 110 mins, 2019)
Screens on January 5
Direct cinema legends Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert unfurl a story of economic globalization captured over many years from both the perspective of the American workers and their newly arrived Chinese managers and employers. Winner, Best Director in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Competition, named Best Documentary at the 2019 Gotham Awards, and nominated for five Cinema Eye Honors. With Julia Reichert, Steve Bognar, and Jeff Reichert in person
Long Day’s Journey into Night 地球最后的夜晚 (Bi Gan, 140 min, 2018)
Screens on January 6 & 7
Beginning as a kind of atmospheric, neon-drenched film noir fever dream, Long Day’s Journey Into Night follows Huang Jue as he returns to his hometown of Kaili for his father’s funeral, then sets off on the trail of an old flame (Tang Wei). After going down a winding road into the past alongside our protagonist, the viewer is invited to put on 3D glasses and enter the movie’s startling hour-long centerpiece shot, a technically astounding feat that redefines the bounds of narrative cinema.
A Bright Summer Day 牯岭街少年杀人事件 (Edward Yang, 237 min, 1991)
Screens on January 18 – 22
A sprawling and intimate evocation of the Taiwan of Yang’s teenage years: the outset of the 1960s, a period defined by street gang activity, the political repression of the Kuomintang military government, and the ubiquity of American pop culture. A Brighter Summer Day takes its inspiration from the story of the country’s first juvenile homicide, with Chang Chen’s brooding outsider just one figure in Yang’s bustling tapestry, regarded in seemingly serene long takes that bristle with repressed emotion.