The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 7 - 14, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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Shadow Magic

Movies have always served the cause of Western imperialism, but only to the benefit of the subject nations, or so suggests Ann Hu's agreeable if awkward based-in-fact film. In 1902 Peking, cinema entrepreneur Liu Jinglun (Xia Yu) is a young photographer's assistant turned on to the new medium by seedy British carpetbagger Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris). Complicating matters beyond the expected conflicts of culture are conflicts of class and æsthetics -- the lowly Jinglun has taken a shine to the daughter of Lord Tan (Li Yusheng), the reigning star of the Chinese Opera, one of the traditional art forms the newfangled Western invention is likely to usurp. It's a fertile scenario, but Hu's treatment is so genial that it's hard to believe the Boxer Rebellion was raging just two years earlier. More a love letter to movies and Chinese-Western relations than a genuine look at either, Shadow Magic is as wispy and manipulative as its title suggests. Screens tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at noon and 2:30 and 5 p.m. Director Ann Hu will appear at tonight's 7 p.m. screening.

-- Peter Keough

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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