Black Coal, Thin Ice ★★★★½

Diao Yinan’s startlingly bleak new film, as well-directed a noir as any this side of Chinatown, begins with a sequence in which a man’s severed arm makes its way from the back of a truck to the black river of a conveyer belt in a coal factory in northern China. When an attentive worker finally spots the errant limb, the machinery is shut down just before any damage can be done to the equipment or the company that owns it. In Black Coal, Thin Ice, men are practically invisible until they interfere with business, and women completely so until they interfere with men.

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