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Take Out at UW Cinematheque

October 15, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Ming Ding (Charles Jang) peddles across a New York City intersection with a Chinese food delivery bag around his left wrist.

Ming Ding (Charles Jang) peddles across a New York City intersection with a Chinese food delivery bag around his left wrist.

Excerpt from Grant Phipps’ review and interview with co-writer and co-director Sean Baker:

For all its constant pressures of time, chronicling the vicissitudes in a day in the life of a Chinese takeout deliveryman, Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou’s microbudget masterpiece Take Out (2004) possesses a timeless empathy.

With a shoestring budget of $3,000 that was paid out of pocket, Baker and Tsou’s film situates itself in an actual working restaurant in NYC’s Manhattan Valley neighborhood, and maneuvers through the streets and apartment buildings of the Upper West Side with a kinetic velocity comparable to the Danish Dogme 95 films of Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, as well as the Dardenne Brothers’ Rosetta (1999), “as if it were shot from the barrel of a gun,” Kent Jones once wrote of the latter.

Baker assumes cinematographic duties, using a MiniDV camera that winds its way into packed kitchen spaces, stairwell and elevator corners, as well as the car-crowded, rain-drenched streets of the city with a comparably gripping urgency and spontaneity.

This is something more than a simple narrative; it’s wholly unified documentary and fiction. It’s fragments of an immigrant’s reality as if it were captured by one of deliveryman Ming Ding (Charles Jang)’s coworkers, like his close friend and confidant Young (Jeng-Hua Yu), who understands his present predicament—to repay, in less than 24 hours, a debt to a loan shark who aided in his smuggling from China or face the crushing, recurrent reality of violent retaliation. Young has also struggled to make a life for himself in New York after the same circumstance, physically distant but emotionally connected to his family on the other side of the world.


UW Cinematheque
821 University Ave / 4070 Vilas Hall
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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(608) 262-3627

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