Playing Safe

Cinematographer Hou Yong is struggling with a screenplay he hopes will be the vehicle for his directorial debut. So he has journeyed to a modest office in an apartment block in Beijing to seek advice from the master, Zhang Yimou. He's come to the right place. The celebrated director favors Hou with an impassioned soliloquy on his interpretation of the script: why Hou should use narrative repetition to create pathos, why the antique wardrobe stays in the same place for three decades, why the mother and the daughter never speak to each other at dinner. At the end of a breathless...

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