Daily Archives: August 6, 1999

Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

The impressive directorial debut of actress Joan Chen, who’s appeared in everything from Twin Peaks to The Last Emperor to Heaven and Earth. Adapted from the novella “Tian Yu” by Yan Geling, who collaborated with Chen on the screenplay, and filmed in Tibet, this feature has enraged mainland Chinese government officials–not only because it was shot without an official permit but apparently also because its tragic plot gives such a dark portrait of the effects of the Cultural Revolution. The young title heroine, who like many others in her generation travels from a city to a remote part of China, winds up working with a horse trainer in Tibet, a solitary and stoic figure whose quiet love for her is the main focus of the story. Desperate after a spell to return to her native Chengdu, Xiu Xiu winds up sleeping with a series of men who she believes have influence on such state decisions. Exquisitely acted, and shot by Zhang Yimou cinematographer Lu Yue–an impressive director in his own right–with a sharp feeling for landscape, this is a powerful piece of filmmaking. Village. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Trick

An aspiring composer of musicals (Christian Campbell) encounters protracted difficulties trying to have sex with a go-go boy he’s picked up (J.P. Pitoc) in this comedy directed by Jim Fall. I don’t want to oversell its merits, but what’s relatively refreshing about this is that it isn’t another movie about gay men–it’s a movie about these gay men. The other Greenwich Village characters who weave in and out of the action–the hero’s ditsy actress friend (Tori Spelling), his straight and horny roommate, the latter’s eccentric girlfriend, an estranged gay couple, and an outrageous drag queen named Miss Coco Peru (Clinton Leupp)–are comparably singular, and Fall gives certain bits of the story the feel of an old-fashioned musical. Jason Schafer wrote the clever script. Pipers Alley.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum

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