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Catching up on Jia Zhang-Ke – as the shops still don’t widely provide the latest "Dong" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0855784/), I needed to revert to the film that probably made him famous (is he famous? Let’s assume he is, at least since "Still Life", http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0859765/). I have to say, while the trivia that and how the film caused Jia’s first professional ban (see http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20070612_1.htm for the story and the speculations) is quite interesting, the film itself is a pill more tricky to swallow. There is clearly a lacking of professional equipment and skills (slap the lightning crew, or the camera operaotr, or whoever was in charge of controlling the lightning continuity), and this is all not very important, because the film was clearly done on no budget and with difficult circumstances. What is sad, however, is that the film feels much longer than it is, and there is a weak script to blame. You can engange in showing a certain arbitrariness of life and fate in China’s areas that have not yet been reached by Kind Midas’ touch, and without doubt the story told is closer to reality than most of the films we can see every day. It’s not particularly interesting, however, to watch a small-scale crook just being. There is no real development, there is no real drama, there is a certain way of dullness, only temporarily moved when Xiao Wu meets a girls he really fancies and for whose attention he goes at great length. These are the strongest passages, watching this relationship develop is moving, but it’s over soon, and the film comes back to a number of issues and events that are not very stringelntly put together. I can only be so critical because Jia Zhang-Ke is very good today, and you could already see this in "Xiao Wu", and this early is beyong doubt a strong piece of Asian naturalistic film-making. But, with a better editing and story development and the courage to cut it down to 90 minutes, I believe it could have been much stronger already.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144020/

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