Suzhou River (Ye Lu, 2000)

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feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Suzhou River (Ye Lu, 2000)

#1 Post by feihong » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:01 am

This movie is in my top 10 films that I adore to an irrational degree. It is gorgeous, haunting, and I do believe it surmounts its various and very direct influences and gets to be its own special beast, running through its own vivid jungle. And for many of us it introduced Zhou Xun, that most rangy and resilient of a new generation of Chinese movie stars. But my Artificial Eye DVD developed some kind of disc rot (freaking me the hell out), and I suddenly learned that that disc is out of print, and only available at super-high rates, used, from people who won't ship the film overseas. Suddenly I come to understand that this is one film that is really unlikely to get upgraded to blu-ray. Does it ever play at festivals or anything? Lou Ye's rep seems nearly kaput, and I don't see retrospectives for him in the future anywhere.

Like Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, it seems to be pointed in a new and radical creative direction that no one within its film movement ran with; unlike Valerie, it has no splurging fantasy or ambiguity likely to capture a later age of viewers. On the other hand, the film led me to seek out new movies by Lou Ye and follow him through years of misfortunes, growing ambitions and projects of diminishing interest (it seems to me). The movie is like slacker-Borges swathed in industrial supergrunge spiked with jabs and rushes of late Fassbinder feverish color. So many moments have such charm: the camera kissing Zhou Xun; the way the cameraman, shooting from his balcony, picks out people on the street to be the protagonists of his story; the simple shots in which Mardar enraptures Mei Mei with his story of a girl who looks like her.

But the bottom line: it's close to inaccessible, and Criterion doesn't have a record that professes love for Chinese movies in general, so I don't see them swooping in to the rescue. Artificial Eye isn't about to start reaching into its back-catalog for blu-ray releases, and if they did this isn't the first, second or third movie they'd reach for. And how would you sell this to fans of, say Jia Zhangke? "If you liked Still Life...this film is in many ways almost the opposite?" Other films on my top 10 are at least legendary, like Raining in the Mountain. People won't completely forget them. But I think this movie is pretty much on the brink.

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repeat
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04 am
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Re: Suzhou River (2000)

#2 Post by repeat » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:38 am

If you're looking for a DVD copy, the R1 disc from Strand should be easily available - I got mine about a month ago. Can't say about the film or the picture quality as I haven't got round to watching it yet.

BTW Tony Rayns showed Suzhou River at the Midnight Sun Film Festival this year, if that counts. I think Lou's reputation is doing OK in France - Spring Fever got a Cannes award and a DVD release, and even Love and Bruises has been released there.

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Felix
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 1:48 pm
Location: A dark damp land where the men all wear skirts

Re: Suzhou River (2000)

#3 Post by Felix » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:01 pm

feihong wrote:This movie is in my top 10 films that I adore to an irrational degree. It is gorgeous, haunting, and I do believe it surmounts its various and very direct influences and gets to be its own special beast, running through its own vivid jungle.
But the bottom line: it's close to inaccessible, and Criterion doesn't have a record that professes love for Chinese movies in general, so I don't see them swooping in to the rescue. Artificial Eye isn't about to start reaching into its back-catalog for blu-ray releases, and if they did this isn't the first, second or third movie they'd reach for.
Totally agree about the excellence of the film and it touches me in similar ways, and sorry to hear about your AE, though I have not had any problems with either of my two copies, the spare one of which I gave to someone on this site. Very, very highly recommended though his other films seem to get a bit of a pasting. I have a couple of them but am yet to watch them.

As for the inacessible bit or trying to give people a handle on it I would have thought with Vertigo now being officially the best movie ever, a film which so clearly wears its Vertigo influence on its sleeve would have a wonderful selling point. For the uninitiated, Vertigo is an influence on the film and it pays homage to it, but it is not a De Palma style version of Vertigo. (The things he does with the colour green, and the music...)

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feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Suzhou River (2000)

#4 Post by feihong » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:53 pm

repeat wrote:If you're looking for a DVD copy, the R1 disc from Strand should be easily available - I got mine about a month ago. Can't say about the film or the picture quality as I haven't got round to watching it yet.

BTW Tony Rayns showed Suzhou River at the Midnight Sun Film Festival this year, if that counts. I think Lou's reputation is doing OK in France - Spring Fever got a Cannes award and a DVD release, and even Love and Bruises has been released there.
That is cool that Rayns showed it. He is hipper to the Asian film scene than almost anybody.

The Strand disc, however, is terrible, from what I always heard. The things people used to say about it included that it was missing large sections of subtitles, that the subtitles were burned in, the compression was terrible, there were ghosted images all the way through. On the now defunct Asiandvdguide the disc was routinely felt to be one of the worst dvds ever. I never bothered with it, because I had the HK release at the time, and when the Artificial Eye version came about it was generally considered the one to own. It's anamorphic, has removable subs, has a short film by Lou Ye as an extra, and so forth. I managed to find a copy of the disc by less-than-savory means, thus backing up the disc I had already owned. I should have done that long ago, I guess, but I couldn't really imagine the film to crap out on me like that. Now I'm rifling my collection looking to back up anything rare that is showing any signs of weakness.

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repeat
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04 am
Location: high in the Custerdome

Re: Suzhou River (Ye Lu, 2000)

#5 Post by repeat » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:07 am

While looking for something else altogether, I stumbled across this Dutch release that seems to have English subs. Does anyone have this and could comment on the quality? If not, I might be getting a copy to compare with the Strand.

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Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

Re: Suzhou River (Ye Lu, 2000)

#6 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:02 am

If you need a copy, I can send you one (probably).
I think the old disc is still around.
And there is a new release with Suzhou River + Love and Bruises and one other film packaged together. That turned up last month. I can check the label. I think it's a Chinese or Asian release, but forget now..

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