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In the mystical,subtropical province of Guizhou,there is a small county clinic surrounded by fog.At the Kaili clinic,there are two doctors who live quiet,lonely lives.One of the doctors,Chen Sheng,embarks on a journey by train to find his nephew, who had been abandoned by his brother. On the way to Zhenyuan ,Chen Sheng came across a place called Dang Mai, where time seemed to flow both forwards and backwards, the lives of the local people a complete mystery. He experiences his own past and future,lending him insight into his own life. Once Chen arrives at Zhen Yuan, rather than approaching his nephew, he watches secretly from a distance, he is surprised to find that his nephew flourished in the absence of his father, and decides not to interfere in his life. Before he had left Kaili, he had promised his colleague that he w ould stop by the home of her former lover to deliver some items, but upon his arrival, he is told that the man had passed away, and he leaves the box of mementos ...
Bi Gan is very possible, "the" most electrifying discoveries of recent Chinese cinema
Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan's awards-winning debut, KAILI BLUES, in fact, the literal translation of its Chinese title is "roadside picnic", which appears to be the name of a frayed paperback collection of poems we can glance in one scene relatively near the beginning, and indeed poem suffuses in Bi's oneiric idiom, told through the voice-over of our protagonist Chen Shen (Chen Yongzhong).
The opening shot is a nearly 360-degree roving take setting against in a fixed position, a sparse clinic where Chen works with an elderly doctor (Zhao), they live in Kaili, a foggy, soggy, slight crummy town in China's southeast, subtropical Guizhou province. In lieu of plying audience with Chen's backstory, Bi cogently puts beauty derived from quotidian scenery in a salient place where a laconic storyline takes its form most subtly, the place where a young boy Weiwei (Luo) and his father Crazy Face (Xie) lives is decrepit and noisy to a fault, but strikingly there is a cascade just in vicinity, which promptly gives the said place an almost surreal grandeur, also Bi manifests his ingenuity by capturing the reflection of a passing train on the wall, a blunt intrusion brutally shattering the homely equilibrium but who can deny its aesthetic signification, plus, a passing train would later give the film's ending a divine "turning-back-time" coup-de-maître.
Soon it transpires that Chen is an ex-convict, and Crazy Face is his brother, but there is bad blood between them (which always has to do with family inheritance, properties in particular), Chen notices that Crazy Face is a deliberately negligent parent and suspects that he is going to sell Weiwei. So when Weiwei is sent away to Monk (Yang), a former gangster ringleader Chen once worked for and for whom he is locked behind the bars, he embarks on an excursion to look for his nephew Zhenyuan, and concurrently, to locate his colleague's old flame, who has Miao pedigree and now falls gravely ill.
The magic occurs when he reaches a town called Dang Mai, where Bi employs an audacious long take running over 40 minutes following Chen and other people he meets there, in particular, a local girl Yangyang (Guo), who is going to work as a tourist guide in Kaili and a young man also named Weiwei (Yu) who overtly carries a torch for her but she seems not to reciprocate. When reality, past, dream are entwined in that bucolic loop, Bi even risks betraying the camera's own existence in order to achieve this cinematic wizardry, is this Weiwei is a future version of Chen's nephew? Does the hairdresser (Liu) he meets is a reincarnation of his deceased wife? When Chen wears the shirt which is delivered to his colleague's Miao lover, is he reliving an imaginative past to give away the cassette, the pledge of romance and courtship? There are cues and incongruities, but the whole enterprise is so remarkably done that should it be singled out as an absolute high water mark from a tenderfoot in the sphere of filmmaking.
Taking the mantle from Chinese indie trailblazers (Jia Zhangke is the obvious object of reference), Bi Gan has a particular knack of marshaling amateur cast and sampling everyday settings to evince a strangely, but also affectingly enigmatic quality bordering on an amalgam of warmth, other-worldliness and allure, converging with its poetic undertow, kismet-galvanized mythos, beguiling scenery shots, peculiar camera composition and astonishing visual fluidity, plus other perverse quirks: the movie's title materializes roughly 30 minutes into its duration, and its opening credits are read out loud which harks back to Pasolini's THE HAWK AND THE SPARROW (1966, 7.5/10) where the credits are given a singsong treatment, KAILI BLUES is the whole package for art cinephiles, and more encouragingly, Bi Gan is very possible, "the" most electrifying discoveries of recent Chinese cinema.
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