Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Life/Sānxiá hǎorén/Натюрморт

Still Life (Chinese: 三峡好人; pinyin: Sānxiá hǎorén; literally "Good people of the Three Gorges") is a 2006 Chinese film directed by Jia Zhangke. Shot in the old village of Fengjie, a small town on the Yangtze River which is slowly being destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, Still Life tells the story of two people in search of their spouses. Still Life is a co-production between the Shanghai Film Studio and Hong Kong-based Xstream Pictures
The film premiered at the 2006 Venice Film Festival and was a surprise winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best Film.[2] The film premiered at a handful of other film festivals, and received a limited commercial release in the United States on January 18, 2008 in New York City.

Like The World, Jia Zhangke's previous film, Still Life was accepted by Chinese authorities and was shown uncensored in both mainland China and abroad.
Still Life takes place in the city of Fengjie, a city upstream of the massive Three Gorges Dam. Now marked for flooding, the city undergoes a process of self-deconstruction. Into this dying town comes Han Sanming, a coal-miner from the province of Shanxi who has returned in search of a wife that ran away sixteen years ago. Upon arriving, he asks a local motorcyclist to drive him to his former address on "Granite Street." The driver takes him to the river bank, revealing that his entire neighborhood has been flooded since the building of the dam. After a failed attempt to obtain his wife's information from the local municipal office, Han Sanming settles into a local hotel. Sanming's next stop is a rickety boat owned by his wife's elder brother. The brother informs Sanming that his wife and daughter (the real reason for his return) work downriver in Yichang but that if he remains in the city, they will eventually return.

Sanming then befriends a local teen (and a fan of the actor Chow Yun-Fat), Brother Mark who helps him with a job with his demolition crew. Together the two spend their days tearing down buildings.

The film then cuts to a second story with the arrival of Shen Hong, a nurse. Shen Hong's husband, Guo Bing had left their home in Shanxi two years earlier and had made only superficial attempts to keep in contact. She eventually enlists the help of one of her husband's friends, Wang Dongming, who allows her to stay at his home as the two seek Guo Bin. The two discover that Guo Bin had become a fairly successful businessman in Fengjie though Dongming refuses to answer whether he has found a girl on the side. Shen Hong later found out her husband is indeed having an affair with his wealthy investor. When Guo Bin and Shen Hong at last meet, she simply walks away. As her husband pursues her, she reveals to him that she has fallen in love with someone else and wishes to divorce. When he asks with whom and when she had fallen in love, she responds, "Does it really matter?"

The film then cuts back to Sanming for the final third. Sanming has been working at demolishing buildings for sometime when Brother Mark is fatally injured in a collapse of a wall, or perhaps he was murdered during a "job" contracted out by Guo Bin to gather a gang of youths to intimidate the inhabitants of a rival piece of real estate. Soon afterwards, his brother-in-law calls informing him that his wife, Missy Ma has returned. Sanming and Missy then meet, where she tells him that their daughter works further south, and that she works for a boat-owner essentially as an indentured servant due to her brothers debt. Sanming attempts to take his ex-wife with him, but is informed that he will have to pay 30,000 RMB to cover the debt. He promises to do so, and makes the decision to head back to Shanxi to work in the mines. His new friends and coworkers announce that they will be following, but Sanming reminds them of the intensely dangerous nature of the work. The film ends as Sanming prepares to depart. A man walking across a tight-rope appears in the background...(WIKI)

Directed by Jia Zhangke
Produced by Xu Pengle
Wang Tianyun
Zhu Jiong
Written by Jia Zhangke
Sun Jianming
Guan Na
Starring Zhao Tao
Han Sanming
Music by Lim Giong
Cinematography Yu Lik-wai

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