East Palace, West Palace

In a Beijing park one night, a gay writer is arrested by the policeman he has a crush on, prompting a long, ambiguous battle of wills and a series of psychological games. Director Zhang Yuan (Mama, Beijing Bastards, Sons), a mainland Chinese independent, is heterosexual but seems to have read Genet: this 1996 feature reaches for a mise en scene more theatrical than one finds in his earlier documentaries and semidocumentaries. The results are more querulous than clearly focused, though the edginess may keep one interested. The title, incidentally, is a gay joke referring to the public toilets located east and west of the Forbidden Palace. (JR)

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