An indifferent man with an unusual outlook on life embarks on a strange journey while carrying a large bag of rice. Mr. Mao is playing a game of hide-and-seek with his wife when he uses the opportunity to run away from home. Upon arriving at the home of his friend Xiao He in the nearby town of Liaocheng, Mr. Mao’s new life begins. Gradually, Mr. Mao and Xiao He are drawn into a mysterious love affair. In the end, mysterious drifter Mr. Mao takes his bag of rice and disappears into the hills to find his true fate. Continue reading
An ordinary village in Northern China, the last day of the winter vacation. Four idle, aimless adolescents gather at Zhou Zhixin’s home, a friend who lives with his father, brother and nephew. Like most contemporary teenagers, these youths want to enjoy their last day of holiday and simply hang out in this place where nothing ever seems likely to happen. Their conversations are desultory and they sometimes seem to argue for argument’s sake. One of them, Laowu, talks frankly with his girlfriend about how teenage love might affect their studies, while Laobao questions school’s value and relevance to real life. Continue reading
Topics from social awkwardness to forced nutrition are among the subjects discussed by a man and the various acquaintances that drop by to sit on his couch during a vacation in “Routine Holiday,” a film so utterly devoid of pleasure or meaning it defies comparison. Pointless extended silences and uncomfortable spatial dynamics define this affected drama far more than insightful commentary does.
“Routine Holiday” is a nearly perfect festival movie. Wide release is not an option for a film that that takes the “motion” out of “motion pictures,” and only increased post-Olympic China fever will stoke any interest in even art house release overseas. Distribution in Asia, where Hollywood is king, is also a long shot.
A national holiday is the impetus for Li Hongqi’s (NETPAC winner “So Much Rice”) plodding meditation on China’s socio-political ills. The locus for a series of wooden conversations is Tuo Ga’s (Yang Bo) home, where a parade of friends and relatives drop by on their day off to say … absolutely nothing. The most excitement comes from the Lovelorn Man (Xiao He), who would really like to have an affair — and goes so far as to tell his wife so. The dour space inhabited by a man, his son, two brothers, and a committed couple is suitably bleak, and echoes the characters’ bleak worldviews. Continue reading