I Love Beijing- -
Filmmaker Ning Ying returns to her favorite theme – the gradual decay of traditional Chinese values and culture at the dawn of the 21st century – in this low-key drama. Desi (Yu Lei) is a cab driver who has recently broken up with his wife. Lonely, Desi is searching for a new love, and as he drifts through Beijing in search of fares and a girlfriend, he sees a city that is increasingly bending to the influence of the West, with traditional pastimes and customs forced to make way for the onslaught of the free-market economy. Xia Ri Nuan Yangyang has been screened on the international film festival circuit in two different versions; the cut shown at the 2001 Rotterdam Film Festival ran 99 minutes, while the film was only 79 minutes when it appeared at the Berlin Film Festival that same year.
I Love Beijing (夏日暖洋洋; literally: “The Warmth of Summer”) is a 2000 Chinese film directed by Ning Ying. It constitutes the third film in Ning’s “Beijing Trilogy,” a loose coterie of films detailing the rapid changes that have befallen Beijing in recent decades.
In this final installment, a recently divorced cab driver, Desi (Yu Lei) feels disconnected from the modern city of Beijing as he picks up fares around the city, all the while engaging in a series of short-term relationships with the various women he meets.
The film was written by Ning and her sister and collaborator, Ning Dai, and was produced by Eurasia Communications and Happy Village.
The film’s title in Chinese was originally meant to mirror the English title “I Love Beijing.” Ning Ying’s ambivalence towards the city’s modernization, however, made censors concerned that people would interpret the title as sarcastic, leading to the altered title which translates as the “Warmth of Summer.”
Like Ning’s earlier films, which were sometimes described as “cinéma vérité” in both camera work and the use of non-professional actors, I Love Beijing uses a naturalistic filming style. This can be seen in the cinematography of Gao Fei, which Variety noted created “casual yet revealing glimpses in long, seductive sequences that recall stylistically the work of Chantal Akerman.
The film’s climactic scene in the night club “Maxim’s” was also improvised. Ning sent invitations out too much of Beijing’s young, successful population to attend a party but never specifically stated that it was for the purposes of filming a scene. The scene, however, was found to be overly long leading one reviewer to claim that it brought the film “to a dead halt”. The negative reaction would lead Ning to edit it out almost entirely in the month before the film’s premiere in Berlin.
As a result, there are two versions of the film. The version screened at the 2001 International Film Festival Rotterdam ran 99 minutes, while the version that screened in Berlin the following month clocked in at only 79 minutes. [Wikipedia]