The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Day 5 – Diao Yinan’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice” and Mark Hartley’s “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films”

Black Coal, Thin Ice

Black_Coal_Thin_Ice_02Two movies on the menu for day 5. First up some modern day Chinese noir, that of the dry comedic variety (very dry that is, just the way I like it), Black Coal, Thin Ice. This is the first film I have seen by writer/director Diao Yinan, and if it is any indication of what I should expect from his previous films (2007’s Night Train and 2003’s Uniform) which I now plan on visiting after the festival, then boy am I in for a treat.

The film starts in 1999 where a gruesome murder is being investigated by our protagonist, Detective Zhang (Liao Fan). Then after one crazy massacre of a mishap the film jumps to 2004 where once again our detective is back to his detecting ways, that is when he’s not partaking in excessive drinking, playfully sexually assaulting women, and doing a nifty little dance to this song.

As much as I enjoy watching a well executed police procedural unfold on the silver screen, I get even more joy out of having the genre be turned on its head and be presented in more of an off-kilter fashion, which is exactly what this film is. My only nitpick (yep, of course I have a nitpick) is that I was unable to acclimatize myself to its wonderful polar opposite tonal shifts between suspenseful drama and comedy until the final scene. This extremely late realization of mine of the film’s rhythm only made me want to get right back in the ticket line and rewatch it all over again, but being that this is a film festival and movie schedules don’t work like that I guess I’ll have to wait til Wednesday to catch it again.


Remaining showtimes for Black Coal, Thin Ice:Wednesday, April 29th, 9:15pm (Kabuki)

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric_Boogaloo_03In 2008 he tackled Australian exploitation flicks with the similarly titled documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!, and in 2012 he made Machete Maidens Unleashed!, which told the story of cheap exploitative flicks being made in the Philippines. His name is Mark Hartley, and his films are presented in a wildly entertaining and exceptionally predictable way.

The good thing about watching a Hartley documentary is I know exactly what I’m in for with a Mark Hartley documentary, and this one, in where he tells the story of the wildly prolific and short-lived game-changing film distribution company, Cannon Films did not disappoint. His films are basically crash coursing Cliff Noted essays on whatever specific sub-genre he chooses to tackle. There’s always dozens of talking heads (some funnier and more passionate than others), a constant – but non-distracting – background score, and of course, its bread and butter, the onslaught of outrageous clips.

As is customary now with watching a Hartley film I did so with pen and paper in hand and jotted down as best as I could in the darkened theatre a list of films that I never would have given two shits about and that I now must see. at the top of the list is Hercules starring Lou Ferrigno, as well as the Enter the Ninja trilogy.


And that’s it for day 5. Next up, for those keeping count… Day 6!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival


  1. The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Day 7 – Martín Rejtman’s “Two Shots Fired” and a Repeat Viewing of Diao Yinan’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice” | - April 30, 2015

    […] on modern day noir “Black Coal, Thin Ice”, a film I already saw just two days prior (which I wrote about here), and a film I revisited with the hopes of ending my day 7 on a high note, which as expected, I […]

  2. Rock’s Report From The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Dave McKean’s “Luna” and Diao Yinan’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice” | - May 6, 2015

    […] Black Coal, Thin Ice is liken to an asian Coen Brothers noir film complete with its own fireworks. It wavers on the line of should I laugh at this or not, then it plays to your surrealist sensibilities without you being aware until the final sequence. It’s masterfully done, but at times I got confused as to why the drunk protagonist knew where everything was and how he got her to fess up, but yet he falls in love with her, rapes her, and now they are wonderfully in love. Maybe I dosed off and I missed a small major detail but there several holes. I still recommend it for the sheer ingenuity of the filmmaker but it ain’t no Inherent Vice (and yes both femme fatales were the films’ vices and things just happen ala Inherent Vice AKA, still my favorite movie of the year) (Adam’s thoughts on this movie can be read here) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: