With this film, we’re not really allowed to anticipate what is going to happen next. Where else does this happen? Well, in life, for example. We are left entirely in the hands of the director, and, quoting one of the characters, “the plot? Only God and Hitchcock knows”.
The film begins with a cameraman in Beijing being hired to follow the daily working life of world renown American film director, Tyler (Donald Sutherland), the 大腕, “Dan Wan” or Big Shot. Alongside Tyler’s disillusionment with his inability to solve problems with the West’s portrayal of other cultures, we are presented with the tension between commerciality and creativity. These themes prelude the rest of the development of the film.
So may be this’ll turn out to be a portrayal of Tyler’s artistic quest for truth? No. Tyler sends his film crew packing and heads off to a Buddhist temple. His cameramen Yoyo (Ge Yo – Sacrifice, The Banquet, If You’re the One, Cell Phone, To Live) visits him and explains that the Chinese celebrate the deaths of people who live a long life.
One day, Tyler collapses during breakfast, leaving a short video that authorizes Yoyo to give him a comedy funeral. Right, so what next? The plot takes several turns and snowballs into one big comic satire of contemporary Chinese society.
A valuable aspect of the film is that director Feng Xiaogang has shown an entirely different face of present-day China, to that of Zhang Yi Mou’s poor peasants in the country and harrowing human rights stories in the news. We meet a trendy and camp internet entrepreneur, seeking to rival sohu.com, and another big shot who is supposedly behind China’s bulk of costume dramas.
Taking commerciality and publicity to the extreme has hilarious results. You’ll have a good laugh while wondering if there are more crazy people in the world then you think. So, a good choice to watch.
Posted in Blog and tagged Big Shot's Funeral, black comedy, china, Chinese, cinema, culture, Feng Xiaogang, film, review, satire