By Jason Apuzzo. We want to keep people pumped here at Libertas about seeing Bruce Beresford’s extraordinary and courageous new film, Mao’s Last Dancer. We’ll be showing you a variety of clips from the film, including this excerpt above for today. It features the lovely Joan Chen as dancer Li’s mother. This clip really gives you a sense of what you’re in for with this film, in terms of how bold it is. [Make sure to read Joe Bendel's LFM Review of Mao's Last Dancer.]
Word also comes today that Rex Reed, one of our favorite critics here at Libertas, has written a rave review of Dancer, calling it a “masterpiece.” I’ve excerpted at length from Reed’s review below:
“As I depart for my annual August vacation, I leave you with a highly recommended magical experience you must not miss. A giant hit at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival, Mao’s Last Dancer, by the great Australian director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy), is a feel-good film bursting with courage, energy and overwhelming inspiration … In the cherished tradition of heartbreaking movies about personal triumph against impossible odds, it is a combination of Billy Elliot and Rocky …
“At 19, granted unheard-of permission from Mao’s regime as one of the first exchange students to travel abroad, on a three-month student visa, in 1980, Li [the dancer and protagonist of the film] faces new hurdles. His parents expect him to bring honor to their humble station, his country expects him to represent China like a good, loyal and cynical comrade, drawing attention to Communism while trusting no one. Terrified and confused, he is the first boy from his province to travel to Beijing, much less the world beyond. Landing in the U.S. in a stiff, outdated, Chinese government-issued suit, he is like Dorothy arriving in Oz. Housed and guided by the kind but flamboyant Stevenson (wonderfully acted by the charismatic Bruce Greenwood), he takes little time overcoming culture shock, adjusting to alien Chinese restaurants and realizing that the Communist propaganda drummed into his head about America as a place of deprivation and darkness is a lot of hokum. The more he experiences of Texas cooking, kung fu movies, miraculous kitchen appliances, American hospitality and tennis shoes, the more distanced he grows from the ideals of Communism and the rigid dogma of Chairman Mao. (Against the rules of the Cultural Revolution, he also discovers the thrill of admiring political defectors like Nureyev and Baryshnikov without fear of arrest while watching forbidden tapes.) Capitalism, he confesses, is groovy …
“Distilling so much drama and turmoil into two hours is not easy, but by the time the film completes Li’s long and arduous journey, in 1986, when his parents are finally allowed to fly to the U.S. to see him dance for the first time, you will marvel at how much is accomplished. I predict the highly charged emotional finale will leave you cheering … Mao’s Last Dancer is a masterpiece.”
Click here for the entirety of Reed’s review.
Posted on August 19th, 2010 at 12:32pm.