Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Short Cut Movie Review - Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
A Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.
You might have heard a couple of years ago about a Chinese artist and dissident who disappeared after several years of criticism, through his blog and various art projects, toward the Chinese government, specifically the state of government school buildings that collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake killing as many as 5,000 children. This documentary by Alison Klayman presents Ai Weiwei as he is, faults and all: artist; activist; protester; dissident; husband; father; philanderer. He is a big teddy bear of a man with a portly figure and a long scraggly beard. He’s taciturn in most of his interactions, but you can see his mind aflutter when he’s working. Most of his art is produced by technicians who realize his visions.
The subtitle of the film refers to Weiwei’s refusal to make apologies for any of his criticisms, a stoic and immovable disposition that even carries over into his personal life in the form of an extra-marital affair that resulted in a child. Throughout the film, he is continually revealed as a man who believes wholeheartedly that incremental changes can be made by a single man standing up to injustice. He is relentless in his pursuit of reform, refusing to back down even when a police beating leaves him with a severe brain injury requiring surgery, even when his official complaints are predictably met with curt dismissals, even after months of imprisonment and isolation designed to break his spirit. The more people are called to action by Weiwei’s story, the sooner the Chinese government might see some more significant changes.