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A harrowing account of disillusioned young people living in China, beautifully photographed by famed cinematographer Yu Lik-wai, UNKNOWN PLEASURES cements Zhang-ke's reputation as one of China's most important filmmakers.
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Provincial Shanxi is a very different thing from Shanghai or Beijing, both of which are huge, world cities with strong cosmopolitan elements - far from the closed, limited environment depicted in this film. Part of the dilemma of these kids is that there isn't much for them to do in a provincial town in Shanxi, which from the look of it has missed out on China's "economic miracle."
Anyway, this is the second of Jia Zhangke's films that I've seen, and though I thought there were a few too many lengthy shots of Xiao Ji wrestling with his motorcycle, it's well-worth your time if you want to gain some insight into China in transition. Dramatically I found it to be a much stronger film than PLATFORM, which is also really interesting for the sociological insight, but for me was difficult to follow - too many characters who were not clearly drawn and whose stories lacked dramatic tension. The characters in UNKNOWN PLEASURES are recognizable; their stories, while not particularly uplifting or optimistic, are real and poignant.
I'd watch this one in a double-bill with BLIND SHAFT (excellent "film noir meets documentary realism"), and then I'd go play with kittens and puppies to cheer myself up.
for chinese people, jia zhangke's 3 major films --xiaowu ¬*, unknown pleasures "Cç--y, platform â`ä) are the best they've had for years. the unknown pleasures of watching them --repeatedly, if the guessing is right--are great. jia's 4th major movie, "the world" is to be shown 5 days from now,on april 9, 2005, the first of his movies granted a screen in public,and is also likely to be genuinely loved and deservedly acclaimed. i can't wait to buy a ticket ;)
there are some english artilces on him and his films. there will be more. i personally think his achievement has shadowed zhang yimou,jiang wen, and gu changwei(director of peacock) --a good thing, since we all believe in competition raising the standards.
as to "unknown pleasures", i can flag the standard words like "classic", "heart-renching", "deeply moving", "five-star", "2 thumbs up" etc. etc. but for me, i like to think of it, and his other movies, as something i have been looking for, found, and will hold to. The pleasures, yes. Unknown? A pity.
Eighteen plus boys attempted to rob a bank following the western movies' examples.
Interesting story of local culture and living.
Director Jia Zhang-Ke made this film after making a documentary here,drawn to the idea of a post-planned economy, the feelings of bleakness and abandonment of old,shabby,closed up and broken-down factories,as the perfect symbol of these young people's condition.Both Bin Bin and Xiao are teenagers,drifting dreamers inhabiting public spaces, where the lottery is broadcast on speakers,young people lounge about smoking or playing cards,playing pool in pool halls,people watch TV or sing karaoke.The young men having nothing much to do all day,idle around,go around on their motor-bikes,to fill in the boredom of their days.As children of unemployed parents,their prospects are dismal.Disaffected and without ambition.they have time on their hands to hang out,dreaming of girls and escape.
The encroaching globalization comes through the TV,China and the Olympics,an explosion in a textile plant,the collision of US and Chinese planes,the entry of China into the WTO.Xiao Ji chases Quiao Quiao,a dancer-cum-singer-cum-prostitute,despite her boyfriend,a local pimp and gangster, and being roughed up by his goons.He says he'll soften her like instant noodles.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You'd really have to think that Richard Linklater's Slacker was the basis for this film. Young people in today's Shanghai, China drift around with not much to do, not much thought... Read morePublished on September 13, 2004 by LGwriter
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