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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Friday’s openings redux: Once upon a time in China

And already we have an addition to Friday's movie-opening menu. It's only fitting that it should be scheduled to play at the Magic Lantern:

"Ash Is the Purest White": Written and directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhangke Jia, this crime drama focuses on a couple whose love is tested in China's changing cultural scene.

Here are some critical comments:

Richard Brody, The New Yorker: "Jia films the stern, grand drama with an avid eye for telling details that reflect stifled political protest, the nexus of business and crime, and the high-handed dictates of ruthless officials."

Maggie Lee, Variety: "At 141 minutes, the work has its intellectually ponderous moments but is ultimately saved by Jia's muse and wife, Zhao Tao, who surpasses herself in a role of mesmerizing complexity."

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: "No one makes movies like Mr. Jia does. He's a dramatist with the eye of a documentarian and the instincts of a historian, even a geographer. But he's also a romantic poet, and his heroine… is driven by love as far as it can take her."

And that's just three of a collection of reviews that make up a 98 percent Fresh rating on the critical site Rotten Tomatoes.