Back to Front PageFeature StoryMenu BarBack to Front Page
Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 23, August 27 - September 2

Cultural taxi I
China's cultural cognoscenti have dubbed the beloved miandi minivan a pop icon, winning the squat yellow roadbug a coveted place in the annals of contemporary PRC history.

Following years of acid abuse at the hands of crass cabbies and angst-ridden passengers, the dinosaur of the mainland's mass transit maw has been reserved a coveted place in the Beijing History Museum.

Curators, however, have been befuddled by a city government regulation requiring the museum miandi to be in pristine condition and street legal.

Faced with the daunting prospect of finding an untarnished taxi, the museum has taken out adverts in local newspapers offering reams of renminbi for information leading to the discovery and capture of the endangered species.

Cultural taxi II
Doyenne of documentary cinema Ning Ying will take filmgoers on a raucous ride through the world of a lovestruck Beijing cabbie in her new flick I Love Beijing.

Currently on location at an expat hangout near you, Ning's first production in four years follows a twenty-something taxi driver through the capital's backalleys as he falls slowly in love with the mellifluous mantra of a female radio host.

After a chance meeting, the femme fatale lures the cabbie into the floating world of Beijing's Dragon Seal-sipping elite, and the film draws to an end as both driver and diva lose themselves in fin-de-siecle decadence.

Ning, famous for her sensitive and humorous takes on the capital's cops and Peking Opera underworld, hopes to premier the work at the millennial film fest at Cannes.

Assassin's Real Victim?
Chen Kaige's latest experiment in celluloid indulgence, Assassin, has hit theaters throughout the capital, nearly one year after an invite-only premier of the historical epic in the Great Hall of the People drew tired yawns of protest from China's glitterati.

An abbreviated version of the ponderous, stiffly-acted effort re-premiered in early August, backed by a massive publicity push and a free full-color booklet detailing the convoluted plotline for vacant viewers.

Despite the effort, Chen's magnum opus continues to challenge the movie-going middle class, with many choosing the cartoon classic Lotus Lantern over his tale of power, passion and betrayal in the Qin court.

More than three years in the making and weighing in as the mainland's costliest film ever, Assassin may yet strike a fatal blow to its true target-Chen's career. Faced with an avalanche of vocal criticism, even the august filmmaker has begun worrying out loud that this work has reduced him to a mere 'joke.'

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Testy teens in the southwestern city of Chengdu are making a bid for Beijing's crown as the capital of Chinese rock, mixing grunge metal and fuzzed-out phunk with a smattering of local spice for an all-original
Sichuan sound.

Boasting one of the earliest rock scenes in the mainland and a pristine punk pedigree, Chengdu has turned up the heat on Beijing, giving birth to no less than 15 new bands in two years and writing a new chapter in the Chinese rock bible.

Leading the way are arthouse rockers Spinach (Bocai) and their stablemates Those Other Two Comrades (Lingwai Liangge Tongzhi). Formed in late 1997, both bands were on the bleeding edge of the Chengdu invasion and are credited for sparking the sonic onslaught of southwestern vibes.

The Chengdu spirit is also fueling a music mash in the Spring City of Kunming, where a burgeoning band scene is chiseling a new era of China Cool for adulating adolescent Yunnan audiences.

Ta Ma De!
And finally, Hong Kong's prudish pop press is reeling at revelations that Dongbei diva Na Ying used-gasp-foul language on the set of a popular television series.

Na, who has been spending time in the cultured Fragrant Harbor port promoting her newest Mandarin release Gan Cui, made the gutteral gaffe on a live broadcast, shocking the announcer and sending titters through legions of pre-teen fans.

Curmudgeonly Canto critics immediately denounced her country bumpkin mainland ways, noting that she had also recently threatened to assault snap-happy paparazzi chasing her through the ex-colony.

Na's bellicose behavior in the usually staid world of pampered Hong Kong cantoqueens has won her the media moniker of "violent pop princess" as well as a well-deserved thumbs up from her earthy gemen'r (homeboys) back in Shenyang.


Previous Stories...


China's Cultural Underground Travel Scene Shopping Scene Classifieds Daily Events Guide CD Reviews Wine and Dine Guide FYI Ask Ayi Doctor Doctor Comrade Language cartoon News from the Chinese Press Book Reviews