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Sun Screeners: Late Summer Flicks @ Capital M, Camera Stylo, La-bas
By Aug 26, 2015 Activities
This is the time of year the annual Beijing Independent Film Festival usually kicks off, then gets shut down within 24 hours. In poking around I learned from Time Out film correspondent Aaron Fox-Lerner that the festival, which was slated to open over the weekend, was just preemptively snuffed out of existence this year, as the organizers quite reasonably foresaw problems opening on the same weekend as the big V-J Day parade rehearsals. According to a filmmaker friend of mine who attends the annually cracked-down-upon event, this year's festival has taken the form of a series of "chill dinners."

Well, they'll always have New York. The "Cinema on the Edge" Kickstarter thing we covered a while back was hugely successful, raising nearly 15 thousand US dollars to bring a curated selection of BIFF hits from 2012-2014 to New York City. This slice of "what China doesn't want you to see" is currently playing at various spots around the Big Apple; find a full schedule here.

And here are a few screening events at home if you're looking to scratch the indie film itch here in Beijing, or beat the remaining summer heat in a full-blast-AC Megabox room...

Xiao Wu

If you're fiending for Chinese indie specifically: this week Time Out continues their monthly screening series of their internally appointed "100 greatest Chinese films of all time". On Sunday at Capital M they'll show Jia Zhangke's stunning debut, The Pickpocket:

"The Pickpocket, Jia Zhangke's first film, arrived unaccompanied by fanfare, but remains as trenchant a critique of the human cost of China’s modernisation as any in this country’s cinematic history. Xiao Wu, the eponymous pickpocket of the story, finds it increasingly difficult to peddle his trade as the Government cracks down on his petty criminality. His closest childhood buddy, now a small-time businessman, refuses to invite Xiao Wu to his wedding, so as to not remind people of his own dubious past. The KTV girl with whom Xiao Wu falls in love turns away at the first beckoning of a wealthy Shanxi bureaucrat. Xiao Wu is the one ‘honest’ man remaining."

No entry fee, but Wechat @TimeOutBeijingEN with the word "Film" to reserve your spot. Screening runs from 8-11pm.

If you can't be fucked to read subtitles: new-ish Dongsi 11 Tiao film nerd hangout Camera Stylo continues its weekly free screening series with a string of cult classics, beginning tonight with a showing of Moranis masterwork Little Shop of Horrors: "A nerdy florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed." That's followed up with Clueless on Friday, Sense and Sensibility on Saturday, and The Personals on Sunday. All free; find the timings in the listing.

Mala educación

Meanwhile, deeper down the hutong: Là-bas has been putting forward a pretty solid screening program for months now. This Sunday they show Wim Wenders' 1999 meditation on trad Cuban music and its aging protagonists, Buena Vista Social Club. Then, on Tuesday, Là-bas launches its September weekly screening series, playing on the theme of Back to School. This coming Tuesday (Sept 1) they're showing burnout classic Dazed & Confused, followed by Rushmore on Sept 8, Almodóvar's Bad Education on Sept 15, The Breakfast Club on Sept 22, and Educating Rita on Sept 29. Full info here.

I'll be back... when I run out of money to pay my maid again

Finally, where do we stand with Hollywood's ongoing China incursion? Well, Terminator Genisys is in local theaters now. Reviews vary from "kinda sucked" to "everything that's wrong with the movies", but you can judge for yourself. If you want. I mean there's a spoiler in the goddamn poster, come on...

Speaking of everything wrong with the movies: has a little roundup of the other Hollywood reboots, adaptations, sequels, spinoffs, and bogus directorial franchises (looking at you, Sandler) coming our way between now and the end of summer. Here's the thumbnail version:

THU Aug 27: Pixels (dir. Adam Sandler) "When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games."

TUE Sept 8: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation "Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate - an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF." [Ed.'s note: movie titles with both a colon and an emdash - SO 2015!! Also, I actually laughed out loud at "most impossible mission yet".]

SUN Sept 13: Minions "Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlett Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world." [Ed.'s note: can't swing a dead cat in Beijing these days without hitting one of these lil' fuckers.]

FRI Sept 18: Ant-Man "Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world."

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