Danwei Noon Report

Why Feng Xiaogang shot such a lame Banquet

Danwei Noon Report is a daily roundup of new and old media coverage about China from Chinese and English sources.

The Banquet spoofed
Apparently Chen Kaige was so upset with the criticism The Promise received that he found someone to film an even worse movie. Since Zhang Yimou was tied up with the Olympic opening ceremony preparations, he pegged Feng Xiaogang for the task, and The Banquet was the result. It's all detailed here, in The Truth Exposed:

The short, apparently produced by a young Shangdong resident named Cong Song, is available directly on Tudou. This is not the first time The Banquet has been a target of mockery; earlier this summer, Photoshopped photos of Zhang Ziyi circulated online poking fun at her English skills and Hollywood aspirations. (link - in Chinese)

SARFT: Lou Ye had quality problems
Clarifying the recent decision to ban director Lou Ye from filmmaking for five years, SARFT vice-director Zhao Shi fell back on earlier statements that Lou's film, Summer Palace, had problems with image and sound quality that prevented the censor board from authorizing its screening at Cannes. Xinhua quotes Zhao:

We believe that the measures taken to supervise Chinese film have had an immense propulsive effect in the development of the film sector....according to regulations enacted in view of national conditions, all film products entering the market, screened for society, must pass review by inspectors. This is the same idea as the need for quality inspections of other products before they enter the marketplace.

Zhao revealed that Lou will not be fined. The Xinhua wire article reproduces Lou Ye's statement to the AP that he thinks the punishment is unreasonable, and ends with a quote from Jia Zhangke, whose Still Life recently won the Golden Lion after screening (legally) at the Venice Film Festival: "There are definitely misunderstandings between directors and the administrative departments. Everyone should sit down and hear each other out, and maybe find out a better way to solve things." (link - in Chinese; earlier on Danwei; see also this article by Jonathan Watts in The Guardian)

Progress in the West
The blogger at The Opposite End of China has interrupted his string of immensely interesting Uighur music videos to comment on two items concerning the march of progress in Xinjiang. In the first, he compares a rooftop photograph taken of the city of Korla in 1998 with one he took himself this week. (link). In the second, slightly more buzzword-worthy treatment of progress, he notes several reports on President Hu Jintao's recent visit to Xinjiang, a trip that was disclosed only after Hu was safely out of the Uighur Autonomous Region. (link).

Washing up
In this week's Oriental Outlook, author Wang Xiaorou reminisces about how taking a shower has changed over the years.

One time a foreign relative came to our home. I called her "older cousin"; she was American, and I didn't know how we were related. Her temporary address was at our home. Since I couldn't speak a foreign language, I hadn't asked where Americans went to bathe. My task at the time was to take this American girl to the bathhouse. I rode a brand-new Forever bicycle (my gift on entering middle school), but when I thought about the sweaty odors in the bathhouse and the awkwardness of standing naked under the faucet, I felt ashamed all along the way.

At that time, getting a showerhead required skill - otherwise you'd be left standing to one side, watching people and having people watch you. Getting showered with water was something that brought a considerable sense of accomplishment in that place. When someone was just about to finish washing their hair, with their head lifted up, you had to lower your head toward the water. Once the water hit you, you quickly put your whole body into it - in this way you could push the person washing up out from under the showerhead. Once one person got under the water, then without a doubt that person would twist her neck to call out to her sisters while turning her body under the stream. The others would come running to press around - occupying a showerhead was exciting.

Places to shower now are really high-class - they provide food, lodging, and special services. At that time, the standard for evaluating a bathhouse was nothing more than: was the waterflow strong? Were there many showerheads? Was the water hot?

Wang Xiaorou's column is not yet online. It can be found in the 14 September issue of Oriental Outlook (#148).

There are currently 6 Comments for Why Feng Xiaogang shot such a lame Banquet.

Comments on Why Feng Xiaogang shot such a lame Banquet

The vice CEO of Baidu.com said the essence of entertainment world and the Internet is democracy.

So, that's why Feng Xiaogang shot such a lame Banquet?!

Anyway, I am going to see the film in my way.

Wow, some blogger said so-and-so (and Danwei is so excited it has to record it). Apparently Blogger doesn't have the greatest grasp of English himself, for if he did he would know that Ziyi's progress is accelerating at a rapid rate. Her command of the language in recent interviews in Venice is not really that much of a surprise for people who already aware of the fact she can do anything.

Why do fellow Chinese single out criticism of Zhang Ziyi for her English? It is, after all, her 2nd language which has improved greatly in a short time due to her hard work. Aside from the fluent English spoken by HK stars who studied overseas, how many other Chinese actors/actresses can speak good English? Knee-jerk criticism of Zhang could only be attributed to jealousy.

Just watched the Banquet on dvd and the most interesting thing was that the film was preceded by a batch of TV ads. This is the first time I have seen this on a dvd and it was made worse by the fact that I could not fast forward through them (although the manufacturers were generous enough to allow me to fast forward through the film itself, which was good as it was an awful, overblown, completely unengaging movie). Has this (adverts) been done before or were the Banquet producers just extra greedy? I have watched more dvds in the last years than I have had hot dinners and it is a first for me.

This is not uncommon. The most unnerving in my experience was a full-blown corporate music video for some cosmetics manufacturer that ran before a copy of Seoul Raiders I made the unwise decision to acquire.

It's an interesting predicament that the DVD marketers are in - to lower their prices to compete with the bootlegs, they include more and more ads. But if that gets too annoying, consumers will be driven back to the bootlegs, which do viewers the courtesy of cutting out stuff no one wants to watch.

thanks joel. I guess that after 6 years here, the banquet was my first experience with a genuine dvd.

I have nothing against ads on dvds if they keep the price down (even danwei needs to eat eh Jeremy?) but the least they could do is allow us to fast forward (or in Danwei's case, click on them if you want, don't if you don't.) Choice is the thing.

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