Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Introductory Notes on Xiao Wu: Abandoned by his friends and associates and stymied by the terrain shifting beneath him, the titular and somewhat nihilistic thief stumbles upon a chance at love—or at least a human connection—and finds himself confronted with the question: is this any way to live? Even in this early work, Jia’s unsurpassed attentiveness to the texture of quotidian life amid a society in flux is powerfully in evidence, presaging his current status as cinema’s great portraitist of the latter-day Chinese behemoth.
Roger Ebert on Smooth Talk: The movie is also uncanny in what it does with its last three shots. I watched them, and could not believe so much could be implied so simply. Leave the movie before it’s over, and you miss almost everything, because what Connie does at the very end of the film is necessary. It makes “Smooth Talk” the story of the process of life, instead of just a sad episode.