*** ½ (three and a half stars)
Director-cinematographer Alison Klayman's documentary is both intense and playful, just like her subject: Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, whose recent arrest has made him more famous than his landmark design of the Beijing Olympic stadium ("the bird's nest"). Klayman captures Ai's art, with its Warholian pop-culture touches melded to an examination of China's uneasy relationship with its own history. The film also distills Ai's activism, as when he sought to bring attention to government malfeasance in the deaths of thousands of children in the Szechuan earthquake – to the point where Chengdu cops punched him in the head. Klayman doesn't shy from the pricklier parts of Ai's personality, but uses her intimate access to demonstrate how his art and politics are inextricably linked in a drive for freedom and transparency in China.
Sean P. Means
"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" screens again:
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 6 p.m., Salt Lake City Library, Salt Lake City
Thursday, Jan. 26, noon, Temple Theatre, Salt Lake City
Friday, Jan. 27, noon, Sundance Screening Room, Sundance resort
Saturday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m., Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City