Brilliant, Deep and Engaging ! ! !
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 02/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Overall this film recounts the story of a young artist as he plans suicide by means of burial in ice on the first day of summer in a public square as a final act of performance art.The zen-like feel of this film, with its mixture of "non-chalantness", nihlism makes you feel more like you're reading a novel by Osamu Dazai (No Longer Human, The Setting Sun) or Yukio Mishima (Temple of the Golden Pavillion) than watching an underground movie smuggled from China... the themes and the unfolding of the story are the same.I say non-chalantness because despite the profound nature of the story, the director presents the unfolding events very calmly and casually... there's is nothing "artsy", boring or overdramatic about the film. In many ways its typical Asian stoicism, but amplified under the magnet of the unfolding of events in the movie. In fact, by the time the reality settles in, the film pulls a number of brilliant orchestrated tricks on the viewer in which many ways the viewer goes from the the judge to the judged - - and despite the simplicity of the story, you found yourself trapped in a complex web and part of the art.Sadly, we may never know who really directly this film and few people in his own country will get to see it. We can only hope however, that this brilliant director who called himself "no one" will continue to make films and direct ! ! ! Not for everyone, of course... but nevertheless, a brilliant story... a brilliant film !"
Dale Murphy | just wandering around | 07/08/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"One almost feels morally compelled to give a high rating to a film like this because of what it stands for and the obvious difficulties involved in producing such a work. But I can't. Frozen, as previous reviews have explained, is essentially about a young performance artist who to raise his apparent spiritual malnourishment or general weariness with life to an art form decides to take his own life in protest against....well, we're not sure exactly, and that's the problem with the film. His individual struggles are never gone into in great detail. Instead we get him doing black and white Munch-like sketches of hollow cheeked post-apocalyptic waifs and then sitting in his room for three days without eating. His brother in law tries to cash in on his known death wish by selling his work (an impulse that needs no explanation).Few films have the opportunity that Frozen had to fire big shots at an obviously worthy target and win immediate sympathy for its message. But instead, we are left with the impression that the Chinese underground has succumbed to a general nihilism. Apart from ethnicity and language, this could be Seattle youth dropping manhole covers on puppies to protest the WTO. Some scenes, notably those with the character of Bold Head, do carry enough intensity to be engrossing in and of themselves, i.e. his methodical consumption of a bar of soap, and his opening of a bottle with his teeth, which was more profoundly philosophical than any such act I've seen on film or in person. His character was extremely compelling.I suppose some might argue that the prevailing sense of despair and hopelessness that runs through the film is an indictment of the Communist system. Perhaps so. But normally one would expect that a rallying cry would not be so cognisant of its own futility. This film should take a lesson from the writings of authors like Solzhenitsyn, who faced totalitarianism with intelligence and humor, and emerged stronger, with a courageous appreciation for humanity and the precious gift of life."