A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop

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Reviewer: Glenn Heath Jr.
Rating (out of 5): ***

As far as remakes go, A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop, Zhang Yimou's colorful and ultimately punishing period piece riff on Blood Simple, might be one of the strangest in recent memory. Jumping from the dark, beguiling, and smoky Texas landscape of the original to a textured, barren mountain region of China, Zhang situates an oddly static locale where his patented surrealist color scheme can intertwine with American genre conventions. Isolated by a sea of soot-covered mountain sides and an endless teal sky, the titular noodle shop feels like its own doomed city-state, with owner Wang (Ni Dahong) as the fascist dictator, his abused wife (Yan Ni) and the three workers a citizenry of angry imbeciles waiting for chance to free them of suffering. But we get the sense that even if these messy peons were granted individualism, they'd let it blow away in the harsh winds.

Despite the drastic change of venue, diverging color palates, and overall tonal divergence, Zhang manages to address the pertinent themes of deception and fate at the core of Joel and Ethan Coen's directorial debut and film noir in general. A flurry of physical activity opens the film, with a Persian weapons dealer impressively wielding a sword, then proving prowess with advanced firearms, stimulating the weak-willed character's vehement craving for power. It's the only time Zhang's patented martial arts kinetics will come into play, and the impressive choreography acts as an exaggerated depiction of violence and absurd introduction to flaccid characters. It becomes clear early on that these are not dimensional people, but pawns in the filmmaker's game to see whom will be the last man standing.

After Wang's wife purchases a pistol for protection against her abusive husband, the machinations of the film noir plot take hold, advancing the inevitably tragic serpentine plot to its bloody culmination.

In a fascinating bit of character duality, Li (Xiao Shenyang), who's sleeping with his boss's wife, is a tightly wound ball of panic, a polar opposite to Zhang (Sun Honglei), a stoic, silent corrupt policeman who Wang hires to snuff out the adulterers. These two men don't share any screen time, yet they function as parallel interpretations of man's worst impulses. Li is dressed entirely in pink, his hysterical outbursts a marker of weakness and servitude. Zhang, dressed in blue and black warrior attire, hardly says a word throughout the film, relying on his perceptive skills of observation, brutal cunning, and smarts to survive. However, both men end up in the same predicament during the film's stunning finale, a bravura set piece that involves piercing arrows and swords, splintering wood, and layers of sharp light.

Zhang has dipped his hand in many different cinematic pools during an almost 25 year career, but A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop feels like a desperate stab at reinvention, at least from a conceptual standpoint if not a stylistic one. He seems torn between a very loopy viewpoint of American genre films and a darker, more menacing representation of the material.

While this mixture of tones doesn't upend the overall virtues of the film, it does diminish the power of certain critical moments. Whether it's Li dragging and burying a dead body beneath a bed of dusty gravel or the wounded Zhang slicing his way through a wall in the film's climax, these iconic images have little lasting impact, undermined by the insipid characters occupying the space. This tug of war between style and content ultimately makes A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop a hollow but dynamic cinematic oddity, a dazzling experiment stuck in a quicksand of familiarity and expectation.



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From that day, until the last of his dear offical michael kors outlet clearance and honored life, it was my delight and consolation to remain with him as his comforter and companion; and from those new balance outlet online little notes which my mother hath made here and there in the volume in which my father describes his adventures in Michael Kors handbags sale Europe, I can well understand the extreme devotion with which she regarded him �� a devotion so passionate and exclusive as Michael Kors outlet store to prevent her, I think, from loving any other person except with an inferior regard; her whole thoughts being centred on cheap oakley sunglasses this one object of affection and worship. I know that, before her, my dear father did not show the love which http://www.louisvuittonoutlet-2015.com he had for his daughter; and in her last and most sacred moments, this dear and tender parent owned to me Louis Vuitton outlet her repentance that she had not loved me enough: her jealousy even that my father should give his affection to any http://www.louisvuitton-lvpurses.com but herself: and in the most fond and beautiful words of affection and admonition, she bade me never to leave him, wholesales michael kors bags online and to supply the place which she was quitting. With a clear conscience, and a heart inexpressibly thankful, I think I michael kors satchel bags outlets can say that I fulfilled those dying commands, and that until his last hour my dearest father never had to complain Louis Vuitton bags that his daughter��s love and fidelity failed him.

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I did not see our other relative, Bishop Michael Kors crossbody handbags Tusher��s lady, of whom so much is said in my papa��s memoirs �� although my mamma went to visit her in chanel factory outlet store the country. I have no pride (as I showed by complying with my mother��s request, and marrying a gentleman who was louis vuitton handbags but the younger son of a Suffolk Baronet), yet I own to A DECENT RESPECT for my name, and wonder how one who ever bore it, should change it for that of Mrs. THOMAS TUSHER. I michael kors bags pass over as odious and unworthy of credit those reports (which I heard in Europe and was then too young to understand), how this person, having LEFT HER FAMILY and fled to Paris, out of jealousy of the Pretender betrayed his Michael Kors outlet online sale secrets to my Lord Stair, King George��s Ambassador, and nearly caused the Prince��s death there; how she came to England and michael kors bags wholesale married this Mr. Tusher, and became a great favorite of King George the Second, by whom Mr. Tusher was made a cheap Michael Kors bags online Dean, and then a Bishop. I did not see the lady, who chose to remain AT HER PALACE all the time http://www.cheaplouisvuittonbagso.com we were in London; but after visiting her, my poor mamma said she had lost all her good looks, and warned oakley outlet me not to set too much store by any such gifts which nature had bestowed upon me. She grew exceedingly stout; Michael Kors sandals and I remember my brother��s wife, Lady Castlewood, saying ����No wonder she became a favorite, for the King likes them old Michael Kors wallet and ugly, as his father did before him.�� On which papa said ����All women were alike; that there was never one oakley outlet store so beautiful as that one; and that we could forgive her everything but her beauty.�� And hereupon my mamma looked vexed, michael kors handbags and my Lord Castlewood began to laugh; and I, of course, being a young creature, could not understand what was the louis vuitton outlet 2015 subject of their conversation.

After the circumstances narrated in the third book of these Memoirs, my father and mother both went abroad, gucci outlet being advised by their friends to leave the country in consequence of the transactions which are recounted at the close of louis vuitton outlet the volume of the Memoirs. But my brother, hearing how the FUTURE BISHOP��S LADY had quitted Castlewood and joined the Pretender Michael Kors Outlet Handbags at Paris, pursued him, and would have killed him, Prince as he was, had not the Prince managed to make his louis vuitton luggage escape. On his expedition to Scotland directly after, Castlewood was so enraged against him that he asked leave to serve as new Louis Vuitton a volunteer, and join the Duke of Argyle��s army in Scotland, which the Pretender never had the courage to face; and louis vuitton stores thenceforth my Lord was quite reconciled to the present reigning family, from whom he hath even received promotion.

Mrs. Tusher was by Michael Kors handbags outlet stores this time as angry against the Pretender as any of her relations could be, and used to boast, as I have Michael Kors purses heard, that she not only brought back my Lord to the Church of England, but procured the English peerage for him, Louis vuitton outlet which the JUNIOR BRANCH of our family at present enjoys. She was a great friend of Sir Robert Walpole, and would Louis Vuitton Sunglasses not rest until her husband slept at Lambeth, my papa used laughing to say. However, the Bishop died of apoplexy suddenly, Louis Vuitton Handbags outlet and his wife erected a great monument over him; and the pair sleep under that stone, with a canopy of marble Michael Kors wallets on sale clouds and angels above them �� the first Mrs. Tusher lying sixty miles off at Castlewood.

But my papa��s genius and education oakley outlet online are both greater than any a woman can be expected to have, and his adventures in Europe far more exciting than cheap Michael Kors outlet his life in this country, which was passed in the tranquil offices of love and duty; and I shall say no oakley sunglasses wholesale more by way of introduction to his Memoirs, nor keep my children from the perusal of a story which is much Louis Vuitton Outlet stores more interesting than that of their affectionate old mother,


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