On Friday, October 4th, I will kick off Facets Multimedia’s annual Fright School, which has “Horrible People” as its theme, by presenting a midnight screening of Fruit Chan’s horror/comedy gem Dumplings. Any of my students who attend the screening can earn extra credit. Refer to the extra credit page of your course website for details. Below is a synopsis of Dumplings I wrote for the Facets website:
You Are Who You Eat!: Fruit Chan’s Delicious, Disturbing Dumplings
The “horrible people” in Dumplings, the film kicking off the 2013 edition of Facets Fright School, are not limited to one or two villainous characters but instead constitute an entire society at the turn of the millennium: the materialistic and youth-obsessed denizens of Hong Kong. Dumplings is esteemed director Fruit Chan’s rarely seen feature-length version of a short film that he originally made for the Asian horror anthology Three. . . Extremes. The story centers on an over-the-hill television actress, identified only as “Mrs. Li” (Miriam Yeung), who will stop at nothing to revive her sagging career and rekindle the interest of her philandering husband (Tony Leung Ka-fai). As if in answer to her prayers, Mrs. Li meets Auntie Mei (a spectacularly creepy Bai Ling), a local chef whose homemade dumplings contain a “secret ingredient” imported from the mainland that supposedly has the power to restore the youth of anyone who consumes it. But Mrs. Li soon discovers to her horror that she must eat the dumplings continually if she wants to stay forever young . . .
Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong, Durian Durian) became internationally famous for a series of gritty, naturalistic dramas tackling important social issues in the turbulent Hong Kong of the 1990s. With 2004′s Dumplings he drastically shifted registers, crafting an elegant and beautifully photographed horror film (the exquisite color cinematography is courtesy of the great Christopher Doyle) that successfully translates his trademark social criticism to the confines of the more genre-oriented filmmaking for which Hong Kong is best known. The result expertly balances visceral shocks with intellectual provocation, and deservedly became one of the most acclaimed Hong Kong films of the post-”handover” era, winning numerous accolades along the way (including a Film of Merit Award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and many Best Supporting Actress trophies for Bai Ling). Come on out to see this director-preferred expanded version of Dumplings and find out what all the fuss is about — though you may want to hold off on eating before you come!
For more information, including directions and ticket info, consult the Facets website: http://www.facets.org/pages/nightschool.php
You can also check out our facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1419112194974988/