China's Feng Xiaogang Calls Critics of Latest Film 'Cultural Nazis'
The popular Chinese director believes local critics missed the satirical point of his latest box office hit, "Personal Tailor."
Top Chinese director Feng Xiaogang has hit back at the critics of his box-office record-breaking new comedy Personal Tailor, calling them shallow "cultural Nazis" and saying they completely missed the point of the film.
Some critics have said the film is his worst ever and Weibo, China's version of Twitter, has been rife with of negative words about the movie.
"Are you the only ones who represent right? Have you a clear understanding of your own nature? Every day you pretend that you have democratic thinking and protect free speech. Please take the cultural Nazi masks off your faces," Feng wrote on his Sino Weibo microblog, in one of six posts that he issued in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Feng is hugely popular with Chinese audiences. Legions of viewers have shrugged off the negative reviews and are packing out the theaters. After a record-breaking opening, by Sunday the movie had notched up a muscular box office take of $88.66 million (537.5 million yuan).
Written by novelist and long-time Feng collaborator Wang Shuo, the movie marks Feng's return to comedy, the genre in which he earned his popularity with movies like Big Shot's Funeral and Cellphone.
Personal Tailor tells of a group of actors who run a company helping people to live out their fantasies, and it is a sequel to Feng's 1997 hit The Dream Factory, which was also written by Wang.
The movie reached 100 million yuan ($16.5 million) in China in record time, breaking the record set by Journey to the West last year.
Feng acknowledged that the movie was not his best in terms of integrity, but he said it was an effort to make a satirical point about contemporary China -- something he alleges the critics have ignored.
The movie contains satirical scenes that have struck a chord with Chinese audiences, including sequences portraying corruption among government officials and another storyline poking fun at a popular director who wants to be a critical success.
"Personal Tailor is a breakthrough in terms of satire," he said.
He has said earlier that satire was still in its infancy in China, and described efforts to poke fun as still being "baby steps" and "new territory."
China's biggest online film review site Mtime gave the movie 5.7 out of 10, while Douban, a popular online community looking at the film business, gave it 5.5 out of 10.
"I give the film a score of 5 (out of 10) in terms of integrity. In terms of its entertainment value, I'd give it a 6. In terms of how it criticizes reality, I'd give it a 9. But the film critics who pretend to understand films, I can only give you a score of 3," Feng wrote in anotherWeibo post.
In the last few years, Feng has switched from comedy to more serious subjects, with mixed results. His war movie Assembly and earthquake epic Aftershock were both successes with local audiences, but last year's Back to 1942, which dealt with a devastating famine and featured Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins, failed to make waves with Chinese audiences.
"From Back to 1942 to Personal Tailor, your mockery and revelry only reflect your shallowness. I look down on you. Please don't be so audacious in misleading the audience. Shameful," he wrote.
Feng also said the criticism of Personal Tailor is similar to that of the Dream Factory when it came out, even though that movie went on to become his breakthrough film and was hugely popular.
"I am not scared of offending you," he said. "You don't even understand the script and you will get lost after two turns. Do I have to translate into pure simple words for you to understand it? How can you still say you are film critics. Don’t make fools of yourselves," the director went on.
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