"The Panda That Roared"
As you know by now, Getafilm is not the place to check in for late-breaking news. The story about Kung Fu Panda's controversial success in China has been kicking around for weeks. Richard Bernstein continued the conversation in Sunday's New York Times, though, so I figured it could still hold some interest.
Here's the deal: The movie has been a smashing winner in Chinese cinemas, causing some of the 1.3 billion Chinese to wonder a.) how did the Americans (Dreamworks Animation, in this case) so accurately portray aspects of our culture, and b.) how come we weren't the ones making this movie?
Bernstein brings up two interesting points. First of all, he claims "a continuing historical imbalance in cultural cross-fertilization. The West’s use of China as an artistic setting is unmatched by any Chinese use of Europe or America as backdrops for its own cultural productions." Secondly, he declares that the Chinese are way behind us in animation technology.
I don't necessarily disagree with those claims, but I think all of it really boils down to this bit: "...a different lesson is being drawn from the film’s success, a lesson that goes to the heart of China’s cultural situation, namely that a movie like Kung Fu Panda could have been produced only in an atmosphere of cultural and artistic freedom that China doesn’t enjoy."
Do you agree/disagree? What are the implications if this is true? By the way, make sure you see Up the Yangtze if you haven't already.
"The High School Years: Still Raw and Unfair"
Also in yesterday's NYT, a Q & A between Karen Durbin and Nanette Bernstein, director of the upcoming documentary American Teen. Although I previewed it after it played at MSPIFF in April, I was looking for another opportunity to plug this film before it comes to Minneapolis next week.
Burnstein doesn't say much more than she did in the Q & A after the MSPIFF screening, and unfortunately she fails to mention that the documentary is not an MTV show about the awkwardness of kids during their high school years. Don't be distracted by the hilarious moments (and there are many of them) - American Teen packs an emotional punch as it touches on themes involving family, independence, and socioeconomic status.
Make the trip to see it at the Lagoon next Friday, August 1.