Mixed or average reviews - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. 80
    Enthralling documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    A proper labor of love profiling many of the principles involved in the making of the films, peppered with a generous helping of wonderful clips.
  3. The director Yan-Ting Yuen revisits the country's recent past to explore the history and legacy of one of the strangest byproducts of totalitarian madness: the revolutionary spectacular.
  4. 63
    Entertaining and informative, but it suffers from distracting voice-overs of what are supposed to be Madame Mao's thoughts. Too bad.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Yuen would have been better off exposing more of that reality and celebrating less of the joyful silliness of the model works, let alone staging pointless hip-hop-inflected dance numbers set to Yang Ban Xi musical themes.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard James Havis
    Will intrigue art house audiences unfamiliar with modern Chinese history. But sinophiles and followers of Chinese cinema will be shocked by the lack of historical detail and context.
  7. 60
    Both frustrating and fascinating, Yuen's documentary is something of a stray footnote. It requires not only the context of the yang ban xi but the perspective of other movies on the subject of entertainment and utopia.
  8. 60
    Overall, the film lacks cohesion and a true point of view. Further muddling the film's meaning is a voice-over attributed to Jiang Qing, which we learn at the end is fictionalized.
  9. 50
    Perhaps understandably, these artifacts of a vastly different ideological and economic era -- have become kitsch objects, the focus of a half-horrified nostalgia, in the midst of the feverish Chinese boom.
  10. 50
    Despite the fascinating topic, director Yan-ting Yuen offers relatively little history or criticism of the works themselves, squandering screen time on such gimmicks as mock voice-over and scenes of young people performing hard-rock and hip-hop versions of vintage songs. It's enough to make you pine for the good old days when irony was illegal.

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