Oxhide (dir. Liu Jiayin)
On the Cine-File website, a comprehensive and highly selective guide to movie screenings in the Chicagoland area, critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (Ebert Presents at the Movies, Mubi.com and Chicago Reader) singles out Oxhide as “Crucial Viewing” for this week. Liu Jiayin’s masterpiece screens Monday at Doc Films at the University of Chicago as part of its 11-film series of Chinese Independent cinema, co-programmed with dGenerate.
Liu Jiayin’s OXHIDE I (Contemporary Chinese) Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, 7pm Liu Jiayin made a name for herself on the festival circuit with this no-budget chamber piece; Monday’s Doc Films screening marks its long-overdue first appearance in Chicago. Despite OXHIDE’s popularity with a certain theoretical-formalist crowd, it’s one of the few films from the last decade to feel like the work of an outsider; Liu’s use of the ‘scope frame, for example, is a genuinely original: instead of using the wider aspect ratio to expand the horizontal, she cuts off the vertical, reducing the actions of a Beijing family (played by Liu and her parents) to hands, torsos, and the movement of objects across a table. There’s only one location, the camera is always static, the lighting is non-existent, and there are only 23 shots in the whole thing – but instead of being some dry postgraduate exercise, OXHIDE is nervy and sometimes surprisingly energetic, thanks in part to Liu’s sophisticated sound design; few recent films have been able to do so much with so little. (2005, 110 min, Video Projection) IV — More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.