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International superstar Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love) embodies tragic screen siren Ruan Lingyu, in this unconventional biopic by Hong Kong New Wave master Stanley Kwan (Rouge). Praised for her moving and emotive onscreen presence, Ruan’s private life, which was frequent fodder for the vicious Shanghai tabloids, began to mirror the melodramas which brought her fame, culminating in her suicide at age 24. Kwan and Cheung paint a kaleidoscopic yet intimate portrait of the ill fated actress, deftly blending lush period drama, archival footage, and metatextual documentary sequences of Cheung reflecting on Ruan’s legacy. The result is, much like the films of Ruan Lingyu themselves, “tender, vivid and almost overwhelmingly moving” (Time Out).
Bonus features include, Stanley Kwan 2021 Introduction, Stanley Kwan Interview, Hong Kong Cinema Expert Paul Fonoroff Interview, Booklet with new essay by Aliza Ma, Programmer of The Metrograph Theatre
Winner - Silver Bear, Best Actress - Berlin Int'l. Film Festival
Winner - Silver Hugo, Best Director - Chicago Int'l. Film Festival
Winner - Silver Hugo, Best Actress - Chicago Int'l. Film Festival
Winner - Best Cinematography - Golden Horse Film Festival
Winner - Best Leading Actress - Golden Horse Film Festival
Winner - Special Jury Award - Golden Horse Film Festival
Winner - Best Cinematography - Hong Kong Film Awards
Winner - Best Art Direction - Hong Kong Film Awards - ---
One of the indisputably great Chinese works of the past decade and Kwan's most thrilling, concentrated and dazzling achievement. - Patrick Z. McGavin, Chicago Tribune
[Center Stage's] radical break with traditional narrative structure, all the more striking in that it emerges from one of the most commercial industries in the world, is clear evidence of the challenge the new wave directors such as Kwan and his contemporaries Wong kar-wai and Ann Hui, were issuing to the Hong Kong film industry rooted in generic formulas and visual titillation. Like a Chinese box, the film’s various layers slip inside one another, the parts resonating through the whole and interacting in complex and innovative ways. - Dean Bowman, Eye for Film
A masterpiece by Stanley Kwan, the greatest Hong Kong film I’ve seen. - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Tender, vivid and almost overwhelmingly moving. --Time Out
The self-aware drama moves at the hypnotic pace of an elusive dream―above all, in spectacularly staged musical scenes, set in a night club, merging sinuous and languid dances with high-stakes emotional battles. - Richard Brody, The New Yorker
[I]n his 1991 masterpiece, Center Stage, Stanley Kwan turns what could easily be dismissed as postmodern gimmickry into something strange and unclassifiable, an ever-shifting framework that refracts almost every biographical insight the movie puts forth. - Andrew Chan, Four Columns
An overwhelmingly moving tribute to the popular Hong Kong actress Ruan Ling-yu of the 1930s. Grade: A - Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Center Stage has justifiably earned its reputation as a classic of the Hong Kong New Wave. --Tony Williams, Senses of Cinema
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