Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Life Is Cheap . . . but Toilet Paper Is Expensive

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The wildest and liveliest effort to date of Chinese American filmmaker Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing, Dim Sum, Slamdance) might have been called Two or Three Things I Know About Hong Kong. Like Godard's films in the late 60s, this beautifully shot essayistic poem--putatively a thriller and full of scatological gags as well as macabre violence and humor--evokes a contemporary city in all its contradictions and paradoxes. (The film's full title perfectly captures its jaundiced socioeconomic view and its stylistic irreverence.) The Hong Kong presented here is not only the city we know from films made there (with plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances, including Allen Fong as a cabdriver) but also the city that looks forward to joining the Chinese mainland in 1997. A satiric semidocumentary in which the city's natives periodically address the camera, Wang's shocker also includes one of the longest (and surely the most dizzying) chase sequences ever filmed. Originally saddled with an X rating, it has gone out uncut with a self-imposed "A" rating for adults; translated, this is a grown-up movie without the power of the Hollywood industry behind it, which suggests a freedom that Wang takes full advantage of (1989). (Music Box, Saturday, November 3, midnight, and Sunday through Thursday, November 3 through 8)

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