Soft Film With Hard Truths

Growing up gifted in Chen Kaige's superb Together

It is an unspoken, perhaps unconscious axiom of criticism that optimistic works are dismissed as sentimental, while pessimistic works are pronounced profound. Some other time we'll munch on the reasons that critics, nestled in the comfort of their intellectual splendor, overvalue works that say life stinks. For now, we'll note that any serious film with a bright or dewy eye runs the risk of exile from the received canon of dark and Sturmy cinema.

Chen Kaige has done his time in the dungeon of film pessimism. The Chinese director's best-known works, Farewell My Concubine and Temptress Moon, are epics of...

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