Wednesday, December 7, 2016

People's Republic of China's 'Old Stone' shares health care neglect with the US

Chen Gang as Lao Shi in 'Old Stone'

By Moira Sullivan
"Old Stone" by debut director Johnny Ma from the People’s Republic of China received funding from the Sundance Institute,which explains why it has been pushed to the top of distribution channels. The film has an excellent soundtrack*, which is one of its many virtues.

The story concerns Lao Shi (Chen Gang), a taxi driver who accidentally hits a motorcyclist in a road accident – an incident that occurs when a drunk passenger shoves Lao Shi’s arm on the steering column. The victim is taken to a hospital and is in a coma. The situation evokes what health insurance companies will look like under the president elect if he succeeds in being installed in this country. Lao Shi is confronted with a bill for the hospital for the victim. The insurance agents and police tell him that he should never have taken the injured man to the hospital because it is against procedure – even though he probably would have died. In a bungle of bureaucracy, an unsympathetic wife, the uncaring spouse of the injured, a clinically efficient and inhumane hospital staff and unsupportive witnesses and friends, even legal assistance, Lao Shi is in a dire predicament. He follows his conscience and sense of duty, though no one else does. Meanwhile his daughter practices dance and his wife continues to pay the bills that they cannot afford because of the new expenses.

'Old Stone' is a curious title, suggested that Lao Shi is cut from the stuff that is disappearing from society. The People's Republic of China has emerged as an economic power but despite all its wealth, just as the US, cannot bear to help provide decent health care to its citizens. Until Obama Care this country was able to avoid the horrible moral dilemma of this film. "Old Stone" is about the rapidly disappearing values of citizen towards citizen in the absence of a government that provides basic benefits to its population. The film takes a diabolic turn after it slowly builds its case against apathy, and shows the futility of trying to live with decent human values. The cinematography is excellent in this engaging human interest narrative.

*Includes:
Kobiki-uta for Orchestra, Koyama
Four Studies of Peking Opera: II. Aria, Shanghai Quartet
Rohan · Men Ha Tan Bagad, Doudou N'diaye Rose (end credits)

© 2016- Moira Sullivan  - Air Date: 12/07/16
Movie Magazine International

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