Young China in the 2000s



In ten strategic films, the transformative filmmaker Wong Kar-wai paints a Chinese portrait of young, romantic, acrobatic and documentary cinema from an immediate past. The Lumière festival is also all about first-time perspectives on the cinema of the 21st century! The result is surprising, somewhere between dream and reality.



Perpetual restlessness

You are the Apple of my Eye (Giddens Ko, 2011), Blind Massage (Lou Ye, 2014), Last Laugh (Zhang Tao, 2017) and Durian Durian (Fruit Chan, 2000) are films saturated with the sensory explorations so dear to Wong Kar-wai; see Chungking Express (1994) and In the Mood for Love (2000). The modest restless urban dwellers are at the heart of these works, interested in youth and what modern China, hybridized with the Western world, allows it to improvise. Durian Durian carries this great beauty of everyday life, with the sound of tap dancing on the pavement, small plastic bags and the bleak hardness of silence. The young heroine, in search of the future, prostitutes herself, in her mellow melancholy, contrasted against the chaotic energy of Hong Kong with its narrow and hot alleyways. She then returns to face the chilling cold of the wide landscapes of rural China - stopping to listen to some street theater performers singing the anthem of “The Internationale,” with a worn sonority in the year 2000. Graphic and deep.


Genres, genres and more genres!

Rigor Mortis (Juno Mak, 2014), The Final Master (Xu Haofeng, 2015), Breakup Buddies (Ning Hao, 2014), PTU (Johnnie To, 2003), Infernal Affairs (2002), Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow, 2004): respectively genres of horror, kung fu, wuxia, thriller, historical fantasy and comedy! The common thread running through these works is Choreography, a sense of exciting movement that has much in common with the Wong Kar-wai’s Ashes of Time (1994) or The Grandmaster (2013).

We suggest you rush to see PTU, a night story of cops in a deserted Hong Kong. In the midst of the aluminum brightness of the lower buildings, the bulky bodies of the characters hide them, or on the contrary, make them noticeable fugitives and pursuers. Like louts, we get attached, even charmed by one of the heroes who is unattractive damaged, alive.

Infernal Affairs has the solution with stars Andy Lau and Tony Leung. This tragic hunt for a traitor is a state-of-the-art technological ballet - the first great movie of cell phones! - to frustrate the most ancestral manipulations. A hero is educated to betray and serve the triads. His nemesis, of the same age, must unmask him. The story is so biblical and impressive that it was adapted for a Martin Scorsese flick starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon. One should nevertheless discover the original Hong Kong version: porous, sticky, scarred.

But the great joy of this intelligent carte blanche is undoubtedly Kung Fu Hustle by Stephen Chow- a handsome director, actor and so elegantly slim! It’s as if Once Upon a Time in the West was crossed with The Matrix and all of Tex Avery. Not an exaggeration! Humor with charm and a poetic ending. And still (and forever), China! Here it is, ancient and historical, just out of a washing machine in order to deprive it of any sacred character that could paralyze it. As a cartoonish hero, a sort of Peter Sellers in The Party, Chow arrives in a small world tyrannized by the conventions of a society of money and power, and sows very creative trouble. Oh, yes!


Virginie Apiou



Carte blanche to Wong Kar-wai

Categories: Lecture Zen