July 20, 2008


The Panda That Roared (RICHARD BERNSTEIN, 7/20/08, NY Times)

In the last few weeks the movie has provoked a deeper discussion, even a degree of soul-searching and critical self-examination of the sort that China, which has an amazing mix of ambition, self-confidence and insecurity, goes through from time to time.

The main question being asked is: How could Western filmmakers have used Chinese themes to create such a brilliant animated movie with such widespread appeal to the Chinese themselves?

Why, in other words, doesn’t China itself seem to be able to use its rich traditions to such brilliant cinematic and commercial effect?

“Besides borrowing a number of sequences from classic kung fu movies in China, the animated comedy grasped the essence of our culture,” Lu Chuan, a young Chinese movie director, wrote in a much noted commentary in China Daily.

“As a movie director, I cannot help wondering when China will be able to produce a movie of this caliber,” Mr. Lu said.

Or, as Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, said, according to Reuters: “The film’s protagonist is China’s national treasure and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn’t we make such a film?”

Because your society stifles creativity and expression?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 20, 2008 12:59 PM

Kung Fu Panda was 'brilliant'? It was ok for ages 10 and under, but pedestrian compared to anything Pixar put out.

Posted by: Gideon7 at July 20, 2008 10:41 PM

KFP was the big hit of the summer so far in my house. The difference is that Walle is for adults and KFP is a kid film. I saw more childless adults than families at the one we saw (although we did see it in Bonita Springs which is heavy on the golf retirement communities).

I'm just glad I didn't have to be creeped and grossed out by the pet roach a second time. Couldn't the joke in post apocalyptic movies just once take the fresh take that we survive them? Although the twinkie joke was funny, if you've already eaten your popcorn, that is.

Posted by: buttercup at July 21, 2008 9:01 AM

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Buttercup didn't enjoy the rat/roach/pigeon song and dance number from Enchanted.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 21, 2008 10:55 AM

Sounds like KFP:China::Spaghetti Westerns:USA.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at July 21, 2008 12:00 PM

Jim in Chicago: Actually, I thought that scene was hilarious because the comedy was based on our natural revulsion of those creatures and the expectation that the princess' call will be answered by the typical Disney-cute critters.

A big plus: the roach got eaten at the end.

I just hate movies that try to make cute out of disgusting. Walle does this while Enchanted uses our disgust for a good joke.

Posted by: buttercup at July 21, 2008 1:27 PM
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