Film: As Time Goes By in Shanghai (2013)

May 7, 2013 | By

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Film: Excellent/ DVD Transfer:  n/a / DVD Extras: n/a

Label: n/a/ Region: n/a/ Released: n/a

Genre: Documentary / Jazz / Chinese History / Hot Docs 2013

Synopsis: Compelling and ultimately inspiring documentary on the world’s oldest jazz band, Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band.

Special Features: n/a




While ostensibly about the oldest jazz band in the world (the ages of the ever-smiling musicians within Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band span 65 to 87), Uli Gaulke’s film is really about the effects of positive thinking and simply staying focused on doing something beloved with other like-minded folks.

Gaulke takes a few notes from Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club (1999) by intercutting group performances with individual vignettes to isolate compelling backstories, but his film spends equal time on the atmosphere of beautiful Shanghai, and slowly works in the personal lives of the musicians, many of which have had to grapple with putting away instruments and / or playing jazz and classical music during the Cultural Revolution, and its brutal anti-Western policies.

As one of the musicians carefully explains, their version of jazz is the forties swing that put local feet in ballrooms around the city, as filtered through Chinese musical sensibilities, and the doc culminates with extracts from their trip to a jazz festival in Rotterdam, Holland. Gaulke does a fine job balancing humanist stories with music in this lushly photographed film, but the film’s real message is to enjoy live and shelve all that caustic regret.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB Official WebsiteHot Docs 2013 Entry


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