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Yang Fudong's Cinematic Influences

Sunday, October 6, 2013
5:30 p.m. Suzhou River
Lou Ye (China, 2000)

(Suzhou He). Lou Ye’s atmospheric noir thriller may be set in Shanghai at the turn of this century, but its ghosts—of lovers, criminals, and heart-broken dreamers—could have been drawn from any of the city’s eras, especially the same glory years of 1930s Shanghai cinema that inspire artist Yang Fudong. Along the banks of the city’s main artery, the rain-drenched, trash-filled Suzhou River, a videographer searches for work, and for a lost love; his tales of woe soon dovetail with another man’s, another lost love, and what begins as a romance soon turns into a thriller, and back again. Described as “Wong Kar-wai’s Vertigo” for its Hong Kong visual flair and Hitchcockian narrative trickery, Suzhou River is a city symphony to Shanghai’s eternal mysteries. An international Chinese/German coproduction, the film marked a clear break with the realist tendencies of the Fifth Generation era, and heralded the continuing emergence of the “Sixth Generation” of filmmakers, as well as the lushly romantic, noirish aesthetic that Lou Ye would continue in later films like Purple Butterfly (2003).

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Lou. Photographed by Wang Yu. With Zhou Xun, Jia Hongsheng, Nai An, Yao Anlian. (83 mins, In Chinese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Strand Releasing)