Friday, January 25, 2008

"Lost In Beijing" Review Loses Movie's Backstory

Tony Scott Tells Us About The Film, But Nothing About Chinese Censors, Blacklisted Director

The movie "Lost In Beijing" has been making the festival circuits and has now made its way to an art house in New York.
A.O. Scott in The New York Times speaks well of the movie that "in spite of its raw, explicit moments" is "at heart a sturdy morality tale about innocence and corruption, wealth and want, sex and power."
What Scott, surprisingly, makes no mention of, is that three weeks ago, China's film board canceled the film's screening license and blacklisted director Fang Li for two years. The reasons, which Fang disputes is improper promotion, deleted sex scenes making their way online, and showing an unauthorized version at the Berlin Film Festival.
All of this was mentioned in what was ostensibly a review in The New York Sun, where Grady Hendrix took the opposite approach of Scott and focused almost exclusively on the controversy surrounding "Lost In Beijing," rather than the movie itself.
To be fair, Jack Mathews' brief, mixed review in The Daily News, also omitted any mention of the dust-up, as did John Anderson's three-star assessment in Newsday, though Vinny Musetto in the Post alludes to it in his short, thumbs-down review.
Still, these are the kinds of movies that the Times owns the last word on, at least in newspapers. As such, the back story cries out to be mentioned, especially if it appears to be at least as interesting as the movie itself.

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