Screen: Angels Wear White

Pouring cups of tea and speaking in the practiced staccato common to tour guides and salespeople across China, a young woman wearing a nurse’s uniform outlines the advantages of hymen-reconstruction surgery. Lily, a newly single hotel receptionist in her early twenties, listens nervously. The nurse ends her pitch with the assurance that Lily will findContinue reading “Screen: Angels Wear White

Weekly Wanderings: Still Wrapping Up 2018 Edition

■ I have a minor flurry (a squall?) of new pieces to share this week, as several things I wrote in late 2018 got published all at once: At Dissent Magazine (subscribe!), I have a long review essay about new books by Carl Minzner (End of an Era) and Elizabeth Economy (The Third Revolution) thatContinue reading “Weekly Wanderings: Still Wrapping Up 2018 Edition”

Weekly Wanderings: Heavy and Light Edition

This has been a very weird week for me: although I’ve been surrounded by a bright and cheery Michigan summer filled with fun things to do, I’ve also been preoccupied with the many dark and dispiriting news stories surrounding the death of Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died on Thursday while still serving anContinue reading “Weekly Wanderings: Heavy and Light Edition”

Screen: I Am Not Madame Bovary

Confession: I don’t often go out of my way to watch Chinese movies because I generally can’t relax and enjoy them. I don’t watch them as movies; I scrutinize them as texts. Questions fill my mind as I stare at the screen: What does this film say about Chinese society? What image of the countryContinue reading “Screen: I Am Not Madame Bovary

Weekly Wanderings: Failure and Success Edition

I’ve made the executive decision (because it’s my blog and therefore I’m the executive) to abandon the pretense that these “Weekly Wanderings” posts are always going to be published on Fridays, because the past month has shown me I can only manage that 50% of the time. So now my goal is to get themContinue reading “Weekly Wanderings: Failure and Success Edition”

Weekly Wanderings: September 30, 2016

▪ As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan; were it not for the condo regulations in my development, I’d definitely have a 13-foot-high inflatable Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man on my front lawn for the next month. My brother assures me that my still furniture-free living room is large enough to accommodate him, but IContinue reading “Weekly Wanderings: September 30, 2016”

Weekly Wanderings: September 9, 2016

I decided to start a new feature here at the blog, as I often find myself holding on to little thoughts that are too long for tweets but not big enough to become blog posts of their own. “Weekly Wanderings [of my brain]” will appear here on Fridays and serve as a catch-all for stuffContinue reading “Weekly Wanderings: September 9, 2016”

Romance in Hong Kong, Both Light and Dark

When thinking about the world’s most romantic cities, Paris and New York probably leap to mind—they are, after all, familiar settings for romantic comedies and novels. But a new book and movie, both released this weekend in tandem with Valentine’s Day, use Hong Kong as the backdrop for their love stories and prove that theContinue reading “Romance in Hong Kong, Both Light and Dark”

Let’s Go to the Movies

After checking out the exterior of the historic Loew’s Jersey movie theater a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t expect to see the interior anytime soon. I knew that the theater screens classic films, but also that it’s closed in the summer due to a lack of air conditioning. I thought I’d missed my chanceContinue reading “Let’s Go to the Movies”

LA Review of Books: “Material Girls”

My monthly column at the LA Review of Books China Blog just went live; this month, I review Tiny Times, the hit movie of the summer here. It is, to put it briefly, a terrible film: Tiny Times (Xiao shidai), a Chinese summer blockbuster based on a book of the same name, ranks as farContinue reading LA Review of Books: “Material Girls””