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,
in Red China: Chi Cao and Camilla Vergotis