|Mountains May Depart (China/France/Japan; 131
directed by: Jia Zhangke
starring: Zhao Tao, Zhang Yi, Liang Jing Dong, Dong Zijian, Sylvia Chang
"MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART is only the eighth feature film by iconoclastic
virtually legendary Chinese director Jia Zhangke. According to his own
words during a New York Film Festival Q & A last fall, he had
thought about not making another film after the many difficulties and
mixed reception of his prior film, the brilliant A TOUCH OF
SIN. Fortunately for us, and for cineastes everywhere, he changed
his mind. MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART was my personal favorite of the NYFF 53
roster, and halfway through 2016, remains my top choice for Chlotrudis
nominations as Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original
Screenplay, Best Use of Music in a Film, Best Editing, Best
Cinematography, and Best Production Design.
“My notes for the NYFF screening of MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART begin and end with the same phrase: sheer bliss. That reaction is as much a result of Zhao Tao's transformative performance in the lead role of Shen Tao, whose story is told in three episodes during the years 1999, 2014, and 2025, as it is Jia Zhangke's exquisitely appropriate use of the Pet Shop Boys' 1993 cover of the Village People's ‘Go West’, first in a joyously frenzied disco celebration at the turn of the millennium in 1999, and in 2025 as the sadder but wiser Shen Tao takes her dog for a walk along the beach, removes the collar, and without warning breaks into her dance moves from 1999. One of the great cinematic and musical moments of this year, or any year, embraces a dreamy past, as it confronts an uncertain future.
“Between 1999 and 2025, we learn the stories of Shen Tao and her two suitors, a wealthy entrepreneur and a poor coal miner. Ultimately a clear-eyed if melancholic view of change during globalization, especially in China, MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART features what is possibly the director's most subversive scene in his collected works. Zhang (Zhang Yi), the suitor she marries because he will be wealthy and successful, has a terrible tantrum at a table overloaded with guns. He could not own such an arsenal in China, so he has moved to Australia, impotently raging that he now owns a pile of guns but has no one at which to shoot them, finally asking angrily -- what good is freedom? The question has more resonance during this time of international peril than it did even last September at Lincoln Center. Long after forgetting most of the films I see at various festivals, MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART continues to haunt me. 5 cats
"Monday, September 28, 2015, the New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York."