291 Great Directors: Wen Jiang

“A film that doesn’t get distributed is like a child that never gets married. Maybe she’s having a secret affair with the audiences, but officially she still lives at home.”


Why This Director?
: Chinese actor turned director who’s now in Star Wars? Sure, why not.

My Last Experience Was…: None.

What Did I Watch: Devils on the Doorstep.

Where Does He Fit: Would that every war film was like Devils on the Doorstep, which not only uses black and white purposefully to illustrate the shadows of wartime and the fog coming out of the character’s mouths when they breathe, but is a goddamn riot that dares you to find this stupid shit unfunny just because it’s all rooted in a pointless battle that is making everyone miserable and poor. The translator is conning everyone and is stuck with a total moron, the villagers are putting themselves into situations they are too dumb to handle properly, no one has any awareness, and then the man who dropped off the POWs to begin with turns out to vanish. Despite being an actor, Wen Jiang has extraordinary awareness of the technical aspects of cinema, and utilizes them to their fullest. There’s a little too much time spent on the primary romance in a way that makes me think it was meant to be sincere, but otherwise, this is a thrilling piece of work worth celebrating. Such a shame that a talent like this was, of course, immediately censored by a Communist government, but at least it exists in the world and was duly rewarded at Cannes.

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Most Valuable Asset: Acid wit in the face of government abuse.
Most Excited For: In the Heat of the Sun.

Coming Up Next: Edgar Ulmer, king of Poverty Row.

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