VIFF 2014: Blind Massage is frank in its fleshiness

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      Blind Massage (China)  

      You have to admire the innovative storytelling techniques in this offbeat drama, based on a novel, about sightless people who work within the Asian tradition of legit massage therapy. Filmmaker Lou Ye, known here for Suzhou River, mixes sighted actors with the blind in realistic situations, heightening the naturalism with intense close-ups and blurry near-abstraction. The film is frank in its fleshiness and its view of social prejudice, but it’s hard to warm to, especially after an opening 10 minutes of spoken exposition, breathlessly establishing myriad characters and situations. It is definitely fitting when the narrator reads the opening credits instead of showing them.

      International Village, October 4 (10:30 a.m.); Playhouse, October 9 (9 p.m.)