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Frozen

Hongshen Jia , Xiaoqing Ma , Xiaoshuai Wang    Unrated   DVD
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.11
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

A member of a small group of intellectuals and artists, performs a series of symbolic ritual suicides--burial by earth, water, and fire--on the first day of each season, and plans to publicly end his life for good in a final ice burial. Inspired by a real-life performance-art suicide (according to the opening commentary), Frozen explores a rarely glimpsed youth subculture of post-Tiananmen Square Beijing, and finds a mood of hopelessness. Wang Xiaoshuai's deliberate direction and unadorned shooting style has won accolades for its simplicity and directness, highlighted in two genuine performance-art pieces: the first a stomach churning document of two men eating a bar of soap, and the second the shivering ice burial. It's an effective approach for those scenes, where self-torture becomes a desperate grasp for sensation in a numbing existence, but elsewhere the anger and frustration of the film dissipates in long, rambling discussions and a meandering pace. Part of that style came from necessity: the guerrilla production was shot in secret and smuggled out of the country. The director finished it in Amsterdam and signed it "Wu Ming" (meaning "no one") out of fear of reprisals from the Chinese government. In the years since its release, Wang Xiaoshuai has come forth as the director, but the alias appropriately remains on the prints. A film that gives voice to a generation of alienated young adults desperate to be heard, it remains banned in China. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious -rebellion without cause. July 25 2003
Format:DVD
This film aspires to be categorized as an art /intellectual film by putting so many static shots of an artist suffering from perpetual hemmoroids (At least, his facial expressions look like he has them ),talking about death and crude amateurish filming style. I'm shocked to discover that Rotterdam Film Festival's Hubert Bals fund subsidized a pretentious film like this.The Chinese film scene is booming and fortunately this film will never be part of it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars frozen July 7 2001
Format:VHS Tape
One almost feels morally compelled to give a high rating to a film like this because of what it stands for and the obvious difficulties involved in producing such a work. But I can't.
Frozen, as previous reviews have explained, is essentially about a young performance artist who to raise his apparent spiritual malnourishment or general weariness with life to an art form decides to take his own life in protest against....well, we're not sure exactly, and that's the problem with the film. His individual struggles are never gone into in great detail. Instead we get him doing black and white Munch-like sketches of hollow cheeked post-apocalyptic waifs and then sitting in his room for three days without eating. His brother in law tries to cash in on his known death wish by selling his work (an impulse that needs no explanation).
Few films have the opportunity that Frozen had to fire big shots at an obviously worthy target and win immediate sympathy for its message. But instead, we are left with the impression that the Chinese underground has succumbed to a general nihilism. Apart from ethnicity and language, this could be Seattle youth dropping manhole covers on puppies to protest the WTO. Some scenes, notably those with the character of Bold Head, do carry enough intensity to be engrossing in and of themselves, i.e. his methodical consumption of a bar of soap, and his opening of a bottle with his teeth, which was more profoundly philosophical than any such act I've seen on film or in person. His character was extremely compelling.
I suppose some might argue that the prevailing sense of despair and hopelessness that runs through the film is an indictment of the Communist system. Perhaps so. But normally one would expect that a rallying cry would not be so cognisant of its own futility.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Frozen, indeed! June 25 2001
Format:DVD
I have to rein in my displeasure not to give a one star. The film is pretentious, self-righteous and boring. The only saving grace is it provides a rare peek into Chinese couter-culture. The folks in Beijing who made this film apparently believe that a life on the margin and death at large, nothing more, are enough to maintain the audience's interest for 95 minutes. No intelligent conversations, no good actings, and no coherent plot are required. Wrong. I also disagree with some critics who see this film as a condemnation of communist repression in China. First, there is no evidence that the youth's defiance is against anything in particular. In order to make a political point, the writer/director will need to offer a more coherent narrative, no matter how cloaked it has to be. Secondly, there are misfits in every society. If one compare the merits of political systems based on the strength of counter-culture, we'll have to draw the necessary conclusion that the totalitarian socialism of China is superior to the libertarian democracy of US. After all, few, if any, see "Traffic" as a protest against democratic society, right?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Deep and Engaging ! ! ! Feb. 16 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Overall this film recounts the story of a young artist as he plans suicide by means of burial in ice on the first day of summer in a public square as a final act of performance art.
The zen-like feel of this film, with its mixture of "non-chalantness", nihlism makes you feel more like you're reading a novel by Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human, The Setting Sun) or Yukio Mishima (Temple of the Golden Pavillion) than watching an underground movie smuggled from China... the themes and the unfolding of the story are the same.
I say non-chalantness because despite the profound nature of the story, the director presents the unfolding events very calmly and casually... there's is nothing "artsy", boring or overdramatic about the film. In many ways its typical Asian stoicism, but amplified under the magnet of the unfolding of events in the movie. In fact, by the time the reality settles in, the film pulls a number of brilliant orchestrated tricks on the viewer in which many ways the viewer goes from the the judge to the judged - - and despite the simplicity of the story, you found yourself trapped in a complex web and part of the art.
Sadly, we may never know who really directly this film and few people in his own country will get to see it. We can only hope however, that this brilliant director who called himself "no one" will continue to make films and direct ! ! !
Not for everyone, of course... but nevertheless, a brilliant story... a brilliant film !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Deep and Engaging ! ! ! Feb. 16 2001
By Eddie Landsberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Overall this film recounts the story of a young artist as he plans suicide by means of burial in ice on the first day of summer in a public square as a final act of performance art.
The zen-like feel of this film, with its mixture of "non-chalantness", nihlism makes you feel more like you're reading a novel by Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human, The Setting Sun) or Yukio Mishima (Temple of the Golden Pavillion) than watching an underground movie smuggled from China... the themes and the unfolding of the story are the same.
I say non-chalantness because despite the profound nature of the story, the director presents the unfolding events very calmly and casually... there's is nothing "artsy", boring or overdramatic about the film. In many ways its typical Asian stoicism, but amplified under the magnet of the unfolding of events in the movie. In fact, by the time the reality settles in, the film pulls a number of brilliant orchestrated tricks on the viewer in which many ways the viewer goes from the the judge to the judged - - and despite the simplicity of the story, you found yourself trapped in a complex web and part of the art.
Sadly, we may never know who really directly this film and few people in his own country will get to see it. We can only hope however, that this brilliant director who called himself "no one" will continue to make films and direct ! ! !
Not for everyone, of course... but nevertheless, a brilliant story... a brilliant film !
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars frozen July 7 2001
By Dale Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
One almost feels morally compelled to give a high rating to a film like this because of what it stands for and the obvious difficulties involved in producing such a work. But I can't.
Frozen, as previous reviews have explained, is essentially about a young performance artist who to raise his apparent spiritual malnourishment or general weariness with life to an art form decides to take his own life in protest against....well, we're not sure exactly, and that's the problem with the film. His individual struggles are never gone into in great detail. Instead we get him doing black and white Munch-like sketches of hollow cheeked post-apocalyptic waifs and then sitting in his room for three days without eating. His brother in law tries to cash in on his known death wish by selling his work (an impulse that needs no explanation).
Few films have the opportunity that Frozen had to fire big shots at an obviously worthy target and win immediate sympathy for its message. But instead, we are left with the impression that the Chinese underground has succumbed to a general nihilism. Apart from ethnicity and language, this could be Seattle youth dropping manhole covers on puppies to protest the WTO. Some scenes, notably those with the character of Bold Head, do carry enough intensity to be engrossing in and of themselves, i.e. his methodical consumption of a bar of soap, and his opening of a bottle with his teeth, which was more profoundly philosophical than any such act I've seen on film or in person. His character was extremely compelling.
I suppose some might argue that the prevailing sense of despair and hopelessness that runs through the film is an indictment of the Communist system. Perhaps so. But normally one would expect that a rallying cry would not be so cognisant of its own futility. This film should take a lesson from the writings of authors like Solzhenitsyn, who faced totalitarianism with intelligence and humor, and emerged stronger, with a courageous appreciation for humanity and the precious gift of life.
4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frozen, indeed! June 25 2001
By W., YUNZHEN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I have to rein in my displeasure not to give a one star. The film is pretentious, self-righteous and boring. The only saving grace is it provides a rare peek into Chinese couter-culture. The folks in Beijing who made this film apparently believe that a life on the margin and death at large, nothing more, are enough to maintain the audience's interest for 95 minutes. No intelligent conversations, no good actings, and no coherent plot are required. Wrong. I also disagree with some critics who see this film as a condemnation of communist repression in China. First, there is no evidence that the youth's defiance is against anything in particular. In order to make a political point, the writer/director will need to offer a more coherent narrative, no matter how cloaked it has to be. Secondly, there are misfits in every society. If one compare the merits of political systems based on the strength of counter-culture, we'll have to draw the necessary conclusion that the totalitarian socialism of China is superior to the libertarian democracy of US. After all, few, if any, see "Traffic" as a protest against democratic society, right?
2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious -rebellion without cause. July 25 2003
By Sebastian Elcano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film aspires to be categorized as an art /intellectual film by putting so many static shots of an artist suffering from perpetual hemmoroids (At least, his facial expressions look like he has them ),talking about death and crude amateurish filming style. I'm shocked to discover that Rotterdam Film Festival's Hubert Bals fund subsidized a pretentious film like this.The Chinese film scene is booming and fortunately this film will never be part of it.
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