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Lan yu
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Showing without force."
4 stars

Adapted from an anonymous Chinese Internet novel, “Beijing Story,” Lan Yu follows the relationship between two men, Chen Handong and Lan Yu, over the course of several years.

Chen, a very successful businessman, becomes infatuated with Lan, a country boy who is in the city to study architecture, but is temporarily forced into male prostitution to get by. Director Stanley Kwan takes the stance from the start not to make any judgments on the characters or their actions, but rather that of a documenter abstaining from spectatorship. The fragmented nature of the film, sometimes causing the spaciousness of time passed to be as infrequent as their meetings, allows Kwan to cover a lot of ground, both without making it seem long, and without being very long itself. (The film is only 83-minutes.) The framing of the cinematography, occasionally undermined by the poorly lit space, is but another tool by Kwan used to almost eavesdroppingly peek in on his characters. Lan Yu garners more strength from observing and preserving the emotions of the two leads without forcefully trying to create its own.

With Hu Jun and Liu Ye.


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originally posted: 12/20/03 20:27:56
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5/25/04 E. MARt Book is better 4 stars
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Directed by
  Stanley Kwan

Written by
  Jimmy Ngai

  Li Huatong
  Jun Hu
  Shuang Li
  Fang Lu
  Jin Su
  Liu Ye

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