Shoot for the Contents | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Shoot for the Contents 

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This essay film by the U.S.-based, French-educated Vietnamese writer and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha (Naked Spaces: Living Is Round, Surname Viet Given Name Nam) approaches Chinese culture from an outsider's position--or, more precisely, through a series of contrasted outsider positions and layered perspectives. Shoot for the Contents, whose title alludes to a Chinese guessing game, was motivated by Trinh's desire to explore her Vietnamese roots (she plans to make a companion film about India, the other major influence on Vietnamese culture), but she's more concerned with poetic evocation than journalistic information. This film may confound spectators looking for a thesis or the kind of false knowledge proffered by conventional documentaries; as usual, Trinh is interested in radically opposing the means by which documentaries generally claim to be authoritative. But the dispersed presentation--which makes use of video as well as 16-millimeter footage and consists largely of speculative conversations with filmmakers and diverse kinds of visual displacement--is provocative and compelling. Like Trinh's other work, this could be described as the film of an accomplished and talented writer rather than the "writing" of a pure filmmaker, but it is no less commanding for that (1991). (Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont, Saturday, June 27, 7:30, 281-8788)

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