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A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop

Submitted by admin on September 23, 2010 – 10:27 pmNo Comment

Zhang Yimou has always been a good fit for Sony Pictures Classics. For over 20 years films like Raise the Red Lantern or Red Sorghum were anxiously awaited as art house events. The leading movie director of his era Yimou cannot be easily classified. His latest A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop (San qiang pai an jing qi) is as different from his films of a generation ago as it is from his recent martial arts films like Hero.

In fact, A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop is a remake of the Coen Brothers debut film Blood Simple. As far as I’m concerned Yimou can remake the entire Coen canon.

Yimou doesn’t let the storyline dictate a film noir look. Instead the setting is the feudal past and the characterizations are broad. For instance one assistant has buckteeth that would seem oversized on Bugs Bunny. Everyone wears strikingly colorful outfits and the camera alternates between static gazing at barren landscapes and hyperkinetic movement. There’s a sense of silliness but also the feeling that Yimou is truly having fun.

A Persian adventurer wanders into the titular noodle shop and sells a gun, which is evidently the only such weapon in the land. Not that other weapons aren’t evident; nearly everyone seems to have some kind of sword or dagger. And the galloping mounted patrol exudes a siren sound because of wind whistles attached to the horses.

Like Blood Simple the plot revolves around an adulterous couple who plan to get rid of the woman’s husband, himself a cruel despot. Yimou finds inspiration in desert vistas and wacky character interaction. It may be a turn off to those who consider Yimou a much more serious director. But it also invites a whole other audience to discover his worldview. A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop opens exclusively this weekend at the River Oaks Three.

- Michael Bergeron

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