Mang zhong   2005   China, South Korea Grain in Ear
Grain in Ear Image Cover
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Director:Lu Zhang
Studio:Doo Entertainment Company
Writer:Lu Zhang
IMDb Rating:7.2 (58 votes)
Awards:2 wins & 1 nomination
Duration:109 min
Languages:Korean, Mandarin
Lu Zhang  ...  (Director)
Lu Zhang  ...  (Writer)
Lianji Liu  ...  Cui
Bo Jin  ...  Chang-ho
Guangxuan Zhu  ...  Kim
Tonghui Wang  ...  Wang
Yonghong Liu  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: I didn't pay much attention to this on my first viewing. It didn't stand out (at the time) from other indie miserablist stuff. I have seen a few other of Zhang's early works but I didn't put them together as being made by the same director, and certainly not by a director I wanted to keep an eye on

I'm giving Grain in Ear a free extra star because it helped me reverse engineer the director's work (and understand The Shadowless Tower a little more) and it solidified my take that his 2012 move from China to South Korea was a game changer. He's hit five home runs and triple, out of 7, since then, and the 7th one shouldn't count because it's more a manifesto than a film

Grain in Ear is very much about Cui, a Korean living in some outskirt of Northern China selling kimchi on the side of the road. It has a story arc with a final act that's kind of revenge thriller-y. Lianji Liu's performance (her only acting credit to date) and her character carry the film. But the way it's shot and all the other bits and pieces make it seem more like a portrait of that particular place, in that particular time, for "a" Korean

This is not really an important idea or distinction: His pre-2012 films were about a place in time (for people) and his post-2012 films are about people (in a place and time). It's just that if I think about it that way, that he's been working at/with/on two different things, people and places, The Shadowless Tower makes sense as the film where he finally marries the two things together perfectly

Other pre- and post-2012 ideas I may write about on my Zhang Lu ranked list are: language and sex

Summary: Grain in Ear follows the plight of Cui (Liu Lianji), a young Korean mother living on the outskirts of Chinese society. With a husband in jail and a son to support, she barely makes a living selling kimchi to workers along the side of a bleak, industrial road. A love affair with a fellow Chinese-Korean leads to tragic consequences as Cui struggles against the vulnerability of her position.

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