The Films of Jia Zhangke
I Wish I Knew
A Touch of Sin (November 13/13)
A Touch of Sin, which kicks off with an absolutely electrifying opening sequence, contains four barely-connected stories that feature perpetrators of (or characters affected by) random acts of violence, with the movie progressing at an almost excessively deliberate pace that is, in the final analysis, impossible to wholeheartedly overlook. It's interesting to note that the film, in its initial stages, plays like a low-key (and fairly standard) Chinese drama, as A Touch of Sin's first tale details the subdued exploits of a put-upon miner - with the narrative taking a rather radical (and impressively engrossing) turn as said miner embarks on a campaign of revenge against his oppressors (and a few random yet deserving bystanders, including an animal abuser). From there, A Touch of Sin tells three more slow-moving (and thoroughly downbeat) stories involving marginalized members of Chinese society - including a spa receptionist who is slowly-but-surely pushed to her limits and a brothel employee who foolishly falls for a co-worker/prostitute. Filmmaker Jia Zhangke has admittedly done an effective job of transforming each of the movie's four central characters into figures worthy of the viewer's interest and sympathy, and yet it's just as clear that one is, for the most part, prevented from entirely connecting to the material by Zhangke's extremely deliberate sensibilities - which ultimately does cement A Touch of Sin's place as an entertaining and sporadically mesmerizing effort that could've used a few more passes through the editing bay.