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 Dumplings is esteemed director Fruit Chan’s rarely seen feature-length version of a short film that he originally made for the Asian horror anthology Three.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/
September 18th, 2013 at 10:19 am
I can’t wait! Though, I am nervous at what I’m about to see from the description!
September 18th, 2013 at 10:46 am
This better make your list of “feminist horror picks” for 2013!
September 18th, 2013 at 11:16 am
Oh, we’ll see! But given the topic, I think you could argue it as terribly feminist, or terrible. I’m excited to argue one point of view!
September 18th, 2013 at 10:50 am
This looks very interesting. I need to see some of these works you just mentioned. You also have a limitless knowledge of international films worthy of British/American cult filmmaker Alex Cox (“Repo Man” and “Sid and Nancy”). I of course mean that as a compliment as always:)
September 18th, 2013 at 11:59 am
I do consider that a compliment, John! I love Cox’s “1000 Ways to Die” column in Film Comment, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. I love the way he puts a spotlight on lesser known genre fare.
September 18th, 2013 at 5:45 pm
You got that right. To your question: I have read his column “1000 Ways to Die” Very smart guy. He has a list of what he considers to be the best westerns of all time. Real diverse. He directed two western in his career: Straight to Hell and Walker. If you have seen them what do you think of them? After a while, he hosted Moviedrome on BBC. If you search on youtube you might find some intros. Fascinating stuff. I think teaches film at a Colorado University now and I hear he is trying to do an independent film with his student group.
September 18th, 2013 at 9:26 pm
I’ve never seen Cox’s westerns, believe it or not. I’ve only Seen Repo Man, Sid and Nancy and Highway Patrolman, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
September 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm
Reading this article has persuaded me to watch this movie. The way the article is written makes the film sound so interesting. Personally, I haven’t seen any movies from China. Watching this movie will be my first experience with Chinese film which is exciting because I love international film. I can’t wait to See it. I also want to eat dumplings to see how they taste and be able to stay young forever. Overall I really enjoyed reading this article. You really did a good job describing the movie and sharing your international wisdom with us.