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MOSTLY FILM: The Hometown Trilogy

'Don't you have any arthouse films?' The scene in Unknown Pleasures that ties the whole trilogy together, sort of.I've been writing for Mostly Film again. The latest thing I've done for them is a review of Jia Zhang-Ke's The Hometown Trilogy, which has just been released by Artificial Eye on DVD. (It's also apparently out on video-on-demand, but I haven't been able as yet to find out where you can watch it: I would imagine Curzon On Demand might have it eventually, though.)

As you can deduce from the opening paragraph of the piece, Jia Zhang-Ke has been previously mentioned in these pages three times (and yes, I realise I screwed up the spelling in one of them, but I can't be arsed going back and fixing it right now). I saw him in 2000 in a London Film Festival discussion entitled Go East (along with another director who would go on to huge things, the Korean Bong Joon-Ho), and in subsequent festivals I've watched his films The World and I Wish I Knew. Writing this review was a nice opportunity to catch up on his earlier movies. If you're wondering whether you'd like to do the same, here's the usual backup feature that I like to supply alongside my articles for Europe's Best Website.

The first film in the trilogy is Xiao Wu (aka Pickpocket), made in 1997 and using the imminent handover of Hong Kong back to China as one of its reference points. Fancy seeing a trailer with an intrusive watermark and Spanish subtitles? Well, tough, it's the best one I could find.

 

In 2000 came Platform, which tries (and, as far as I'm concerned, doesn't quite succeed) to cover the whole of 1980s Chinese history in its story of a group of travelling performers. It looks lovely, though. This lengthy clip from the Cinema Poetry video blog includes the sequence that gives the film its title.

 

The last film in the trilogy is Unknown Pleasures, made in 2002 but set a year earlier. The trailers I've found online all seem far too keen to give away the ending. So here's a nice chunky clip from the middle, which proves I wasn't making up what I said in the article about the film's use of Western-friendly movie references.

 

And one more bit of video to finish off. I mention Madness' drama-doc Take It Or Leave It in my discussion of Xiao Wu, in the context of how interestingly erratic the results can be when you use non-professional actors. (Let me make that clear: not bad, but erratic.) I don't normally approve of this sort of thing, but as the film's currently out of print, I think this is the best way of illustrating my point...

 

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