PRINT March 2019



Bi Gan, Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey into Night), 2018, 2K 3-D and 2-D video, color, sound, 140 minutes.  Wildcat (Lee Hong-Chi). Production still. Photo: Liu Hongyu.

“ARTY,” A COINAGE DATING to the heyday of Jugendstil, isn’t a term I like to use, but it seems unavoidable in discussing the work of the Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan. Two features into his career and just shy of thirty, Bi has established himself as the artiest internationally known director this side of the arch-pretensoids Terrence Malick and Darren Aronofsky. I don’t much care for either of those filmmakers, each a textbook practitioner of what Manny Farber, in the Winter 1962–63 issue of Film Culture, famously called “white elephant” filmmaking, but Bi is something else.

Farber took issue with would-be masterpieces, “reminiscent of the enameled tobacco humidors and wooden lawn ponies bought at white elephant auctions decades ago,” made by self-important filmmakers (like Malick and Aronofsky, Harvard men both) who sought “to pin the viewer to the wall and slug him with wet towels

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