Nostalgic December: In the Mood for Wong Kar-wai’s Melodrama and Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’?

At the beginning of each month, CFI posts a comprehensive list of Chinese film screenings in NYC. Here is what to see in December. 


New Releases:

A still from ‘Youth’ (Dir. Feng Xiaogang)

Brotherhood of Blades 2’ 绣春刀II修罗战场 (Dir. Lu Yang, China, 2017, 120min)

Opens on 12/01 at AMC Empire 25

In the Ming dynasty of China, Shen Lian (starring Chang Chen), a secret police of corrupt government, is trapped by the conspiracy on a mission. To prove the innocence, he seeks the truth with a girl called Bei Zhai (Yang Mi). The film won the Award for Best Action Choreography at the 54th Golden Horse Awards. Watch the trailer HERE.

Youth’ 芳华 (Dir. Feng Xiaogang, China, 2017, 136min)

Opens on 12/15 at AMC Empire 25; 12/23 at Metrograph

A look at the lives of members in a Chinese Military Cultural Troupe in the 1970s; from escaping a family scandal to dealing with unrequited love, each experiences rejection that shapes their lives in this coming-of-age tale selected to play at the Toronto International Film Festival. Adapted from Yan Geling‘s novel of the same name and directed by Chinese helming legend Feng Xiaogang. Watch the trailer HERE.

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia奇门遁甲 (Dir. Yuen Wo Ping, China, 2017, 117 min)

Opens on 12/15 at AMC Empire 25

The movie follows a group of swordsmen’s adventures to secretly protect humankind by hunting some mysterious creatures from the outer space. Legendary director Yuen Wo Ping and writer/producer Tsui Hark breathe new life into the Wuxia genre, weaving together fantasy, humor, and breathtaking martial arts action. Watch the trailer HERE.

Bleeding Steel机器之血 (Dir. Zhang Lijia, China/Hong Kong, 2017)

Opens on 12/22 at AMC Loews 34th Street 14

Jackie Chan stars as a hardened special forces agent who fights to protect a young woman from a sinister criminal gang. At the same time, he with feels a special connection to the young woman, like they met in a different life. Watch the trailer HERE.


The Liquidator‘ 心理罪之城市之光 (Dir. Xu Jizhou, China, 2017)

Opens on 12/29 at AMC Empire 25

A criminal psychologist (Deng Chao, Duckweed) and a forensic fingerprint expert (Cecilia Liu) works together to track down a serial killer (Ethan Juan) who targets people who have been acquitted of notable crimes and uses their guilt as his modus operandi. Watch the trailer HERE.


Still in Theater:

a still from ‘Explosion’

Explosion引爆者 (Dir. Chang Zheng, 100 min, China, 2017)

Through 12/05 at AMC Empire 25

Starring Duan Yihong (Best Actor, 2017 Tokyo International Film Festival), ‘Explosion’ tells the story of a blast technician who survives an explosion in a mining town only to discover it may not have been an accident. While investigating the truth, he becomes the prime suspect and must use his unique skillset to clear his name. Watch the trailer HERE.




Screening and Discussion: ‘The Exilic Gaze & The Activist Lens’

We the Workers‘ (Dir. Huang Wenhai, 173 min, China, 2017)

12/02 at NYU, 721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Currently based in Hong Kong, veteran indie filmmaker Huang Wenhai and human rights activist, feminist scholar, blogger and filmmaker Zeng Jinyan, joined hands in making We the Workers, which premiered in New York as a part of the Guggenheim’s ongoing  “Turn it on: China on Film” documentary series. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Watch the trailer HERE.


Lincoln Center Film Series: ‘The Non-actor’

a poster of ‘A Brighter Summer Day’ (Dir. Edward Yang)

Oxhide’ 牛皮 (Dir. Liu Jiayin, 105min, China, 2005)

12/06 at Francesca Beale Theater

In Liu Jiayin’s first film, over the course of 23 carefully choreographed shots, we watch the young filmmaker, her parents, and their cat act out a thinly fictionalized version of the life they share in a cramped Beijing apartment, where her father makes leather handbags. Watch the clip HERE.

A Brighter Summer Day 牯岭街少年杀人事件 (Dir. Edward Yang, 237 min, Taiwan, 1991)

12/09 at Walter Reade Theater

A deeply personal epic comparable in scope and impact to the Godfather movies and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, Yang’s extraordinary memory film stretches tautly over four hours of screen time and more than 100 speaking parts. Few movies more readily call to mind the great, sprawling novels of the 19th century and their portraits of ordinary individuals caught in the maelstrom of a changing society. Go behind the scenes of the new 4K restoration HERE.


Special Screening: ‘2046’ (Dir. Wong Kar-wai, 129 min, Hong Kong, 2004)

Zhang Ziyi in Wong Kar-wai’s ‘2046’

12/08 at Metrograph

The sort-of sequel to Wong’s Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love centers on Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s science-fiction writer Chow, chronicling his aimless affairs with women (including Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi, and Gong Li) after Mrs. Chen has disappeared from his life, the narrative shuttling between Hong Kong in the early ‘60s and the dystopian, heartsick future of Chow’s imagination, just past the end of the “One Country, Two Systems” period. ‘

Special Screening: ‘Behemoth‘ (Dir. Zhao Liang, 2015, China, 90 min)

12/28, 12/29 at Metrograph

Zhao Liang is at the forefront of a generation of fearless mainland Chinese documentarians, braving censorship and worse to tell the story of their country’s hyperspeed “progress.” His latest, shot in coal mines in Inner Mongolia, is a mythic-realist film of harrowing close-up and infernal long shots that beggar belief, evoking both Dante and Bosch en route to a haunting climax in an ultramodern pre-fab labyrinth.

Special Screening: ‘Black Coal Thin Ice‘ (Dir. Diao Yinan, 2014, China,110 min)

12/29, 12/30 at Metrograph

Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival, Yinan’s stylish, daring, neon-lit tour-de-force is a mystery epic which begins with the discovery of a severed hand amid the coal on a factory conveyor belt. Cop Zhang (Liao Fan) follows the case, but five years later, when he’s drinking heavily and working as a security guard, the body parts are still showing up. A sumptuous nocturnal noir which has drawn comparison to David Fincher’s Zodiac, and a landmark in the Chinese crime film.


Lincoln Center Film Series: “Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama”

This series pays tribute to the genre that boldly endeavored to put emotion on screen in its purest form, featuring classics from the silent era and Hollywood’s Golden Age to major mid-century films from around the world to modern dramas and subversive postmodern incarnations. Bring tissues.

a still from ‘In The Mood for Love’ (Dir. Wong Kar-wai)

Rouge’ 胭脂扣 (Dir. Stanley Kwan, 1987, Hong Kong, 93min)

12/16 at Walter Reade Theater

In the tradition of Douglas Sirk and Vincente Minnelli, Hong Kong auteur Stanley Kwan creates expressively stylized emotion spectacles etched in sumptuous mise-en-scène. In this entrancingly strange and sensual ghost story, 1930s courtesan Fleur (HK icon Anita Mui) dies of an opium overdose in a suicide pact with her forbidden lover (Leslie Cheung). She goes to hell, but he doesn’t join her there as expected. Fifty years later she returns to Earth in search of him…

In the Mood for Love’ 花样年华 (Dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 2000, Hong Kong/China, 98min)

12/16 at Walter Reade Theater

Wong Kar Wai’s swoon-inducing instant classic made Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung the star-crossed dream team of the early 2000s art house. They play next-door neighbors driven by loneliness into a platonic romance amid the alleyways and noodle shops of 1960s Hong Kong, only to discover that their own spouses are carrying on an affair. Preceded by: ‘In Love for the Mood’ (Dir. Ming Wong,2009, Singapore, 5min). Watch the trailer HERE.

The Goddess’ 神女 (Dir. Wu Yonggang, China, 1934, 73min)

12/21 at Walter Reade Theater

In her greatest role, Chinese silent-cinema icon Ruan Lingyu (阮玲玉) plays a prostitute who sacrifices everything to give her young son a better life, but finds herself beaten down by society at every turn. Her suicide one year after the film’s release at the age of 24 would deprive the world of one of its greatest silent actresses, but her magnetic, astonishingly naturalistic presence—recalling the modernity of Louise Brooks crossed with the grit of Barbara Stanwyck—is here forever immortalized. Digital restoration courtesy of the China Film Archive. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin. Watch the teaser HERE.

Spring in a Small Town’ 小城之春 (Dir. Fei Mu, 1948, China, 98m)

12/27 at Walter Reade Theater

The oft-cited crowning achievement of classic Chinese cinema is a mesmerizing portrait of female desire and subjectivity that ranks alongside Brief Encounter and the works of Mikio Naruse. Married to a depressed, chronically ill man, housewife Yuwen (Wei Wei) is quietly suffocating in a provincial village when an old flame unexpectedly walks back into her life. So begins a wrenching internal struggle between marital fidelity and erotic yearning that plays out with supreme restraint on screen, but which boils over in its heroine’s impassioned voiceovers. Digital restoration courtesy of the China Film Archive. Watch the trailer HERE.


Film Series: ‘Have Sword, Will Travel

A new monthly series, co-presented and programmed by Subway Cinema and the Quad, focuses on rogue warriors, rebel swordsmen, and other wandering heroes from the Far East and explores the multifaceted figure of the knight errant in East Asian films.

A Still from ‘The New One-Armed Swordsman’ (1971)

Double Feature: ‘One-Armed Swordsman‘ and ‘The New One-Armed Swordsman

12/16 at Quad Cinema

The turning point in Kung fu and Wuxia cinema history, ‘One-Armed Swordsman’ is the film that changed everything. Produced by the famed Hong Kong Shaw Brothers Studio, this tale of a swordsman who loses his arm to his master’s pampered daughter propelled director Chang Cheh and actor Jimmy Wang Yu to superstardom. ‘The New One-Armed Swordsman,’ starring David Chiang, features Chang Cheh’s usual brand of violent swordplay and bloody effects. Watch the trailer HERE.


Documentary Series: ‘Turn It On: China On Film 2000-2017′

Through 01/04, 2018 at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Watch Ai Weiwei introducing the series HERE.

December lineup:

‘In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul,’ ‘Storm under the Sun,’ ‘Falling from the Sky,’ ‘Plastic China,’ ‘Petition,’ ‘Jiabiangou Elegy: Life and Death of the Rightists,’ ‘The Road,’ ‘Silver City,’ ‘Dream Walking,’ and ‘Disturbing the Peace.’

See full schedule HERE


MoMA Screenings: Chung Kuo—Cina (China) 1972. Written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

7 upcoming occurrences at The Museum of Modern Art, next on 12/30 

One of the most riveting documentary film portraits of China was almost never seen. In 1971, a year before Nixon’s historic visit to China and seemingly a harbinger of a thawing of international relations during the Cultural Revolution, Antonioni was invited by Mao Zedong’s regime to make a work of propaganda about the superior virtues of the Communist nation. Fascinated by a country that remained an enigma to the West, the filmmaker shot nearly 100 hours of film during his travels from Peking to Shanghai by way of the countryside.