Review: ‘Night Scene’

The second film in four months by underground Mainland Chinese director Cui Zi'en, "Night Scene" is more an extended footnote to the helmer's memorably titled 2003 effort, "Feeding Boys, Ayaya." Like that pic, "Night Scene" investigates the lives of male prostitutes on the streets of Beijing, here using the slenderest narrative to assemble first-person interviews with practitioners of the trade. Dairy-like result is not as compelling as "Feeding Boys" and less formally interesting than Cui's recent single-take opus, "The Narrow Path," but should find a home in the same fests that have regularly exhibited his work.

The second film in four months by underground Mainland Chinese director Cui Zi’en, “Night Scene” is more an extended footnote to the helmer’s memorably titled 2003 effort, “Feeding Boys, Ayaya.” Like that pic, “Night Scene” investigates the lives of male prostitutes on the streets of Beijing, here using the slenderest narrative to assemble first-person interviews with practitioners of the trade. Dairy-like result is not as compelling as “Feeding Boys” and less formally interesting than Cui’s recent single-take opus, “The Narrow Path,” but should find a home in the same fests that have regularly exhibited his work.

As in all of Cui’s films, “Night Scene” is inherently fascinating simply for the fact it exists, shot illicitly in real parks and nightclubs with a cast populated by an undifferentiated mixture of actors playing prostitutes and prostitutes playing themselves. Beyond which, there is Cui’s nonjudgmental attitude to prostitution itself, here suggesting it may be an inevitable side-effect of China’s ever-increasing capitalism — a way for young, attractive people to make money, and for older, unattractive people to get off.

Night Scene

China

Production

A Cuizi DV Studio production. (International sales: Cui Zi'en, Beijing.) Produced by Liang Dewu, Du Jiayi, Liu Sujing. Directed, written by Cui Zi'en.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Zhang Huilin, Yuan Deqiang; editor, Gao Bo Jie; music, Zhang Jian. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Cinema of the World: Time & Tide), Feb. 2, 2005. Original title: Ye Jing. Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Gao Yang, Liang Hao Bin, Qiao Bin, Ge Ying Han.
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