What’s on TV Monday: ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’ on Criterion and a PBS Documentary

AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL (2019) Stream on The Criterion Channel. Hu Bo’s first and only feature film follows four characters over the course of a single day in a grimly industrial city in Northern China. For almost four hours their lonely, depressing lives are slowly woven together against the backdrop of a stifling society and an indifferent world and. After one character, Wei Bu (Peng Yuchang), a student at a mediocre school, sees his attempt to stand up to a bully backfire, he flees the bully’s brother, Yu Cheng (Zhang Yu). He is joined by Huang Ling (Wang Yuwen), a classmate embroiled in an affair with a school official, and Wang Jin (Liu Congxi), a man estranged from his family. “Unsparing as Hu’s anatomy of moral drift may be, there is something graceful in his sympathetic attention to lives defined almost entirely by disappointment and diminished hope,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times.

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