Caught in the Web Screen 5 articles

Caught in the Web

2012

Caught in the Web Poster
  • Mr. Chen’s camera placement often feels too much like a bid to mix things up (as strained as some of the fireworks in the WikiLeaks feature “The Fifth Estate”), and the occasionally goofy soundtrack cues seem to have been bought in bulk. While the film tackles an admittedly slippery contemporary moment, its grasp is weakened by divided attentions and unwieldy approaches.

  • The movie is plotted like a plate of spaghetti, with long and limp noodles of plot—many of them involving the personal lives of the reporters investigating Lanqiu’s life—wrapping around each other to form a messy tangle. Quantity, not quality, seems to be Chen and co-writer Tang Danian’s goal. The result is a “how we live now” ensemble piece that is neither emotionally nor socially credible.

  • Chen's strategy of frenetic editing both within and between scenes, and the self-conscious efforts to capture a kind of social-media zeitgeist (even the opening credits are displayed as search-engine queries) give Caught in the Web a distinctly wild energy, but at the expense of subtlety or even comprehensibility.

  • No stranger to controversy, Fifth Generation Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige (Farewell, My Concubine) has always taken his country to task over bureaucratic and social issues; here, the director goes after both old-media exploitation and new-media omnipresence, and the result is less than cutting. Adding elements of corporate backstabbing, romantic shenanigans, and a WTF wacky wuxia interlude involving a bodyguard (Mark Chao) and paparazzi does not make a weak satire seem any sharper.

  • Chen interweaves these plot strands as though constructing a farce, yet the tone is bitter and moralistic. This isn't a success, but it has insight and energy.

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