Jiao ma tang hui (2021)

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Jiao ma tang hui (2021). 2h 59m

“Mythologies about the afterlife can get somewhat confusing. Some simply believe that you die and you either go u0026quot;upu0026quot; or u0026quot;down,u0026quot; to heaven or to hell. Still others believe there is a sort of waiting room, a purgatory, or a place where you just take a number and wait your turn (like in Beetlejuice). I recommend the hilarious u0026quot;Defending Your Life,u0026quot; an Albert Brooks film that explores the process in Judgment City whereby onesu0026#39; future placement is determined.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn China, Nieh-ching-tu0026#39;ai is a place in the Underworld where souls must review their lives before a mirror until the Yama King makes his judgment. And that is precisely the context for this film, which at its open finds the famous actor Qiu Fu (Yi Sicheng) entering the Underworld. He is greeted by two demons, Oxhead and Horseface aka Oxey and Horsey from Fengdu, the capital of Hell. They will be accompanying him on his journey through the Nieh-ching-tu0026#39;ai.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBeginning in 1920, when Qui was just a child starting his training with the New-New Theatrical Troupe, the film takes us through Quiu0026#39;s life and experience in a series of tableaus depicting the characters and experiences of the day. The movie reminded me of a Wes Anderson film in style. Along the way 20th century Chinese history is explored, along with some commentary on that history.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eMy Wes Anderson comment is as much about the humor as it is the visual style. Comedy abounds in A New Old Play. The film is beautifully composed and cinematographically gorgeous. This is a masterpiece of Chinese independent cinema that may make its way onto some critics must see lists in years to come. The director Qiu Jiongjiong, who found inspiration from his own grandfather who was an actor like the Qui in the film, said, u0026quot;I have rejected any tedious speculation, or supercilious detachment, in favor of lively, unabashed good humor and fun. . . The Dionysian spirit, the vital force, the clown in each of us. . . Hovering between reality and fantasy.u0026quot; It was a pleasure watching all 180 minutes of A New Old Play, released by Kani, and available at Vinegar Syndrome.”


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