Ash Is Purest White
Jia Zhangke's ninth feature film Ash Is Purest White has drawn criticism from some corners for being something like a "greatest hits" collection of its maker's favorite themes. This criticism, of course, begs the question: why is that a bad thing? It's a testament to personal filmmaking that Jia has been able to look back over his work and create a kind of culmination of everything he has done so far. That he has been able to make it work as a totally, aesthetically satisfying movie, is admirable. What's new is that it's his first jianghu movie, set in the world of gangsters, but without any kind of glamorizing — except for a quick clip of a Chow Yun-fat movie on a TV screen and a use of the great, beautiful theme song from John Woo's The Killer...