2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

Members' Marquees

Critical Contacts

Lobby Reading

The Video Store

Reel Resources

The Blog Bijou

-Admit One
-Artistic Delusions
-Belligerent Bunny's Bad Movie Shrine
-Beware of Blog
-The Brain Drain
Biancolo Notes
-The Big Ticket
-Bitter Cinema
-Black & White World
-Bull Durham's Hot Corner
-Brewed Fresh Daily
-Camille's Film Journal
-The Chutry Experiment
-Cineblog (II)
-Cine Club
-Cinegraphic.Net: The Avante-Garde Film and Video Blog
-Cinema 24
-Cinema News
-Il Cinema Secondo (Italian)
-Cineaste (Russian)
-Cinema Toast
-Concentrated Nonsense
-Confessions of an Indie Filmmaker
-Cult Movies I Dare You to Watch
-Cutting to the Chase
-Cynthia Rockwell's Waiting Room
-The Daily Despair
-The Daily Digest
-Day for Night
-Delta Sierra Arts
-Dinky's Docket
-Distorting the Medium
-Donald Melanson On Movies
-Electric Movies
-Fade In: Blog
-Feeling Listless
-Filmfilter (German)
-Filmtagebuch (German)
-Film Talk
-Five Easy Pieces
-Frank Booth
-A Girl and A Gun
-Glazed Donuts
-GreenCine Daily
-Harlequin Knights
-He Loved Him Some Movies
-The Hobo Reviews
-Hot Buttered Death
-Iggy's Movie Review Weblog
-Iguano Film Blog
-In Development
-Japanese Films' Journal
-Joe Sixpack's Film Blog
-Joe's Weblog & Film Project News
-Junk for Code
-Kumari's Movie Blog
-Lights Out Films
-Like Anna Karina's Sweater (Filmbrain)
-Listen Missy
-Magnolia Girl
-Marley's Ghost
-Media Yenta
-Michael I. Trent
-Moov Goog
-Motime Like the Present
-Movie Boy
-Movie Criticism For the Retarded
-A Movie Diary
-The Movie Generation
-The Movie Marketing Blog
-Movie Retard
-The Movie Review
-Moving Pictures
-Nando's Blog
-Netflix Fan
-Or Kill Me
-Out of Ambit
-Out of Focus
-Paolo - Cinema's Radio Weblog (Italian)
-Pigs and Battleships
-Plot Kicks In
-Pop Culture Junkies
-The Projector
-Qwipster's Movie Reviews
-Reel Reviews (Podcast)
-Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
-The Screening Room
-Screen Watcher
-Short and Sweet
-The Silver Screen
-Stinky Cinema
-Sunset Blvd
-Tagline: A Movie Weblog
Talking Pictures
Tea for One
-Tom Vick's Asian Cinema Blog
-Trailer Park
-Truly Bad Films
Waste of Tape
-Wayne's Movie Blog
Whippin Picadilly
Wittgenstein's Bunnies
-Yay! Movies!
McBain Recommends
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Kill Bill vol 2
Shroom Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Head On
Joker Recommends
-Top 20 List
-House of Flying Daggers
-The Aviator
-Bad Education
Yun-Fat Recommends
-Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
-Los Muertos
-Tropical Malady
Allyn Recommends
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Songs from the Second Floor
Phyrephox Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Design for Living (Lubitsch, 1933)
-War of the Worlds
-Howl's Moving Castle
Melisb Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Return
-Spirited Away
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring
Wardpet Recommends
-Finding Nemo
-Man on the Train
-28 Days Later
Lorne Recommends
-21 Grams
-Cold Mountain
-Lost in Translation
Merlot Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Man on the Train
-Safe Conduct
-The Statement
Whitney Recommends
-Femme Fatale
-Gangs of New York
-Grand Illusion
Sydhe Recommends
-In America
-Looney Tunes: Back In Action
-Whale Rider
Copywright Recommends
Top 20 List
-Flowers of Shanghai
-Road to Perdition
Stennie Recommends
Top 20 List
-A Matter of Life and Death
Rodney Recommends
Top 20 List
-The Pianist
-Talk to Her
Jeff Recommends
-Dial M for Murder
-The Game
-Star Wars Saga
Lady Wakasa Recommends
-Dracula: Page from a Virgin's Diary
-Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler
-The Last Laugh
Steve Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
Jenny Recommends
-Mean Girls
-Super Size Me
-The Warriors
Jason Recommends
Top 20 List
-Old Boy
-Million Dollar Baby
-Head On
Lons Recommends
-Before Sunset
-The Incredibles

Powered by Blogger Pro™

links open windows

(c)2002 Design by Blogscapes.com

The Blog:
Friday, February 13, 2004
Blind Shaft

Two brothers and a friend get up from their stucco shacks to briefly face a cold dawn before descending into a coalmine. Three men enter, only two return. Faced with the requirement of compensation, less a bureaucrat comes to shutdown the illegal mine, the boss pays off the surviving brother and the two survivors totter off to the city in shock. Before the two men leave the mining camp the boss briefly considers killing them both instead of paying them off, but realizes that the bribes required of the local police would outweigh the payoff for the single death. And so the morality of Blind Shaft is set. Song (Qiang Li) and Tang (Shuangbao Wang) run a deviously simple con game. They travel from city to city until they find a naïve and clueless straggler desperately looking for some work. The duo convinces the victim that rustic mining is where the money is, pose the victim as a relative when they sign the work contracts with management and proceed to murder the man, staging the killing as a cave-in and collect compensation using faux-naïve suggestions of getting the authorities involved.

Writer/director/producer Li Yang complicates his smart thriller premise with some interesting, but slight social realism. Song and Tang are not simply murderous thieves, they, like the most of Blind Shaft's working class, including prostitutes, wire nearly all money earned to their family’s back home. In a vicious circle of which the duo is undoubtedly cynically aware, they are forced to search for dangerous work far away from home and end up picking off only sad-sacks like themselves, encouraging desperate families to send younger and younger family members. Things are complicated considerably when Song and Tang’s latest victim is a youth of only 16. Both men being fathers it is evident that the boy, Yuan (Baoqiang Wang) will ruin the prosperous partnership in one way or another. Whereas Song is a father of a smart student, whose college education is being bankrolled by his father’s crimes, Tang says his son is a lazy screw-up just like his old man; perhaps it is Song’s pride in his son that prompts him to treat Yuan like an offspring, despite his constant yelling and frustration at the naïve youth.

Shot in the drab quasi-verite style of many frequent films out of China-where the palette seems drained of any life or vibrancy whatsoever and any formal stylization of the thriller plot is abandoned for handheld camerawork often shot in the midst of real crowds-Blind Shaft probably purports to have more social value than it really does. There is no doubt that Yang takes an already good idea and smoothly integrates some pretty damning statements of the state of an element of China’s working class, but the film’s narrative is so finely tuned that it runs with an almost too-slick progress, like numbers plugged into a well known and well used formula. Curiously, Yang avoids the claustrophobic tension of the mineshaft. The tension and surprise that is wasted for not using the setting speaks quite a bit for the film as a whole which takes little risks for making a strong statement or unique characterization. That said, Yang’s cast is perfect, and the semi-friendly rapport between Song and Tang is a welcome release from films of this type where the relationship between criminal teams is always precarious and threatens to overturn the instant a foreign element is introduced between them. Despite the realist aesthetic of Blind Shaft Yang includes several elements that suggest we are seeing this world through the jaded eyes of the workers. The above mentioned lack of use of the mine shaft repeatedly suggests the numbed, fearlessness of the duo, where the harsh conditions of working life causing no problem, but a silly urban threat of a wealthy man driving a car forces them to run away in fear. And in an unusual development all the women in the film appear attractive, as all Song and Tang do with their extra money is spend it on prostitutes. This suggests that we are seeing their China, and when Tang asserts that Song is feeling sorry for Yuan Song twice counters, “than who’s feeling sorry for me?” Evidently it is the film’s job to provoke that empathy and it is not successful; Yang hardly makes the case that these murderers are not properly understood. It is their situation as the working class that requires sympathy, but Blind Shaft is usually too distracted with its efficient thriller premise to fully explore a deep, incisive social statement.