Turn­ing pointe

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

Mao’s Last Dancer, dance bio, rated PG, in English and Man­darin with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 2.5 chiles

ISure, Bruce Beres­ford’s biopic of Li Cunxin, the Chi­nese bal­let dancer who de­fected while on a stu­dent visa in Hous­ton in 1981, is some­times the movie equiv­a­lent of Os­car Mayer cold cuts. But the danc­ing is pure caviar. And any­way, who doesn’t like a lit­tle baloney ev­ery now and then?

The script by Jan Sardi ( Shine) leaps back and forth be­tween Li’s child­hood, where he is plucked from ob­scu­rity in his ru­ral vil­lage by grim tal­ent scouts for the Bei­jing Dance Academy; his years of train­ing as a dancer; and his fate­ful sum­mer in Hous­ton nine years later. It tells view­ers a few things they need to know about China: No­body ever smiles. The sun never comes out. Peo­ple speak only in po­lit­i­cal slo­gans. China has “the high­est stan­dard of liv­ing in the world,” ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese gram­mar-school cur­ricu­lum, and the most de­prived place on the planet is the United States. Ac­cord­ing to a song pop­u­lar in the coun­try’s gray,

White Nights

in Red China: Chi Cao and Camilla Ver­go­tis

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