Joel Coen praises China biz

Multihyphenate is intrigued over scope of content gains

BEIJING — Multihyphenate Joel Coen believes the Chinese film biz is “poised to explode” and said what movies he had seen by local helmers like Zhang Yimou and Lu Chuan gave him great confidence in the country’s future.

“It is on a cusp, both quantitatively and qualitatively … it’s going to evolve,” he told a panel, which formed a part of the U.S.-China Forum on the Arts and Culture. “It seems like something that’s really going to take off — but it will be interesting to see what direction that goes … and what that means in terms of content,” said the elder Coen, who with his brother Ethan has made “The Big Lebowski,” “Fargo” and “True Grit.”

He said there remained some confusion in Hollywood about the Chinese film biz.

“Americans don’t have a real clear picture of what Chinese society is like right now. There’s a lot of distortion, there’s a lot of political news. But there isn’t a lot of news or a lot of exposure on how ordinary Chinese people live, or how Chinese artists work,” Coen told local media.

Coen said that while American filmmakers are curious about Chinese culture and Chinese movies, they’re also interested in being able to show their own films in China.

Asked his view on Zhang’s “A Simple Noodle Story,” a 2009 remake of the Coens’ breakthrough movie “Blood Simple,” he said he loved it. Zhang had approached the Coens before making the movie, although the final result bore little resemblance to “Blood Simple.”

“It was the single weirdest viewing experience,” he told the panel, which included local helmers He Ping and Lu.

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