A Touch of Sin

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The vaguely threatening specter of modern Chinese society is one that—thanks to the country's notoriously restrictive censorship laws—the world rarely gets to see through the eyes of its artists. Covertly recorded videos and grim reports on factory conditions coupled with predictors of impending economic dominance are cold comfort. Director Jia Zhang-ke's A Touch of Sin, then, is an unusual look at life at the bottom of China's capitalist structure, told through four strung-together tales based on real events—all of which end in outbursts of violence. Needless to say, it's not much of a comfort either.

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