Early feature from Jia Zhang-Ke watches with eerie precision, using long simple takes, as the 1980s play out in and around the town of Fenyang, Northern China. Seen thru the eyes & changing lives of a gaggle of twenty-something traveling performers, it’s no longer the Mao, Mao, Mao, Mao World of their parents & the authorities, but what’s to replace the old verities? Surely, there’s more to it than Pop music culture (with its heavy Western seasonings) and colorful, inexpensive clothing. But just try putting a name, number or ethical standard on it; especially for a new generation going thru a very delayed adolescent rebellion. Jia Zhang-Ke plays this as an ensemble piece, people come & go, or get replaced by younger members joining the troop with more up-to-date/Westernized styles. Personal identification, at least for a non-Chinese audience, can be tricky, making this less a story or character driven pic, than one of fast-devolving mores & moods. It's the sort of cultural dislocation you might get moving from one side of the world to the other, all happening while running in place. A change that goes all the way down to that new No Smoking sign on the bus. Economically executed, it’s a tough memory film with cascading emotions unexpectedly popping up at inconvenient moments.
DOUBLE-BILL: Must see more Jia Zhang Ke!