Friday, November 20, 2015

A Journey Through Time with Anthony

Another week, another Chinese movie, with another one opening tomorrow. There are a lot of them these days.

It didn't start until fifteen minutes past the advertised starting time, with no pre-show and loud noises coming from the projection booth behind us. I kind of found myself wondering just what causes that when everything is hard drives ingested into digital projection systems; it's not like people were moving heavy reels of film around.

Pei an dong ni du guo man chang sui yue (A Journey Through Time with Anthony, aka Les Aventures d'Anthony)

* * (out of four)
Seen 18 November 2015 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, DCP)

China seems to be producing a lot of movies like A Journey Through Time with Anthony (slightly less unwieldy than the film's Mandarin title, "Pei an dong ni du guo man chang sui yue") lately, plucked from the blogs and romans à clefs of relatively young writers. Some of them not only translate the distinctive voices and doodles into sweet little movies, but it seems the majority wind up like this one: Cute, pleasant, and eventually coming up against how a series of reminiscences isn't quite the same thing as a story.

Anthony (Liu Chang) is a young man from Dailin, China, about to start a couple of years of study abroad in Melbourne, while his best friend Xiao Ying (Bai Baihe) studies sound engineering in Tokyo. He's set up in a boarding house full of Chinese students, and he soon meets another, "Serena" Xiao Xuan (Tina Tang Yi-xin). It's not long before he encounters her again after deciding to change his major to culinary arts, discovering he has a real knack or it, even as Ying feels like she is constantly disappointing Fang jie (Jin Shijia) on a movie project they are working on together.

Anthony's a nice guy, meets nice people, and has a chance to grow and discover things about himself over the course of the movie. In that way, it's a pretty mild "finding yourself at college" story, and there's nothing particularly wrong with that. Director Janet Chun Siu-jan (who also adapted the book by the real-life Anthony) does not go in for excessive dramatics in situations that don't merit them, and while she allows for plenty of moments of levity, she never lets the film veer into over-sentimentality or silliness, even as a cartoon bunny avatar pops up in various corners. She knows the tone she's going for, and she seldom misses.

Full review on EFC.

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