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Lu Chen

LU CHEN is a contributor to the Rail.

China's Young and Restless

Written, directed, and produced by Sue Williams and planned as the first “episode” of five documentary films over twenty years, Young & Restless in China records the lives of nine Chinese young adults over a four-year span (2004-2007).

Prose Roundup

Life is rhythmically punctuated by death, just as memory is punctuated by moments of revelation, in which the characters are transformed by sudden glimpses of the world beyond knowledge or language. A young handyman believes he sees the finger of God; a girl confined to bed by a nervous disorder feels blessed by the splendid visible and invisible worlds; a college student dives out of his ninth-floor window to, after a poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez, “catch the stars more quickly.”

New York Asian Film Festival

Summer means Asian Films Are Go. The New York Asian Film Festival will present its wild selection of the most recent and most curious films culled from the current crop of Asian pop cinema.

The Kindness of Strangers

“People disappear every day.” “Every time they leave the room.” The exchange of lines in Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975) applies well to Fatih Akin’s recent The Edge of Heaven.

Hypnotized in Global Scenarios

Slumdog Millionaire gave me the perfect experience of what Roland Barthes calls “cinematographic hypnosis.” The images lured, captured, and captivated me. In a crisp two hours I shared the characters’ thrills and tears with held breath, followed the gorgeous color, buoyant music, and breathtaking motion without my eyes leaving the screen.

I Hate Mathematics and Racists

The Class is funny, true-to-life, and hard to classify. Loosely based on the memoir by François Bégaudeau about his experience as a literature teacher in an inner city high school in a working-class neighborhood, Class stars the author in a fictionalized version of himself.


In the world of Ajami, violence and fear lie like volcanoes beneath the surface of everyday life in the titular Jaffa neighborhood where religions, cultures, and perspectives collide.

Horror Is As Horror Does

Let Me In starts with the intensity of a horror film. An ambulance winds its way through the dark in a snow storm; a series of bizarre murders in town evoke police suspicion of some satanic cult.

Nocturnal Epic For a Dark Era

Edward Yang’s four-hour epic masterpiece A Brighter Summer Day impresses and intimidates with its dense texture, convoluted plot lines, and audiovisual complexities.

Sir David and Mrs. Brown

David Lean is a filmmaker with many prehistoric virtues. Clearly a sort of a materialist, Lean vests in rich, elaborative visual details and displays a strong belief in assuring their solidity, be it the perfect sunset or the right look of a corn field in 1910s Russia.

When the Outside World Crashes Within

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films often envelope their characters and viewers in an intense sense of isolation and despair. When a young woman, paranoid of supernatural attack, slowly retreats into a back room, the camera moves forward to lead us further away from her world. At the end of a dimly-lit street, someone suddenly jumps down a high tower to her death. The horrified reaction of a witness is lost among the grey shades of many faceless, out-of-focus passers-by.

Elegy and Its Resonance in a Vanishing World

Sergei Eisenstein once tried to stage a theatrical production in an actual factory, only to find the play overwhelmed by the factory present in full force before the spectators.

Parables of Impossibility

“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Stephen Dedalus’s line in Ulysses perfectly describes the characters in the films of Goran Paskaljević, the Serbian director who, not coincidentally, chose Joyce’s Ireland as his second home.

The Dragon Painter

Like this Chinese proverb, The Dragon Painter centers on the painting and unpainting of a dragon. Produced by, and starring, the Japanese-born actor Sessue Hayakawa, the film transplants an oriental tale onto the western screen, with a twist.

Of Trees and Neighbors

With its central image, Lemon Tree evokes the roots of a nation: its soil, its rural heritage, its ancestors and the connection between its past and future.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2023

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