For every film, a painting
It’s patterns what the eyes are searching for when seeing film.
Patterns create form. David Bordwell argues in Film Art that artworks of any kind “arouse and gratify our human craving for form”. By film form he means “the overall system of relations that we can perceive among the elements in the whole film”.
Sometimes, watching Asian films is like looking for patterns on the moon. It’s magnificent, tiresome and at times inches so close to a sort of fundamental planetary Truth that you shiver.
Bi Gan, the director of Kaili Blues is boyish looking but tough. And 26. In an interview from Liberation he argues that he became drawn to film as a means of expression because he liked animals a lot and wanted to film them.
Kaili Blues is a film about a province doctor, who searches for his nephew, who got sold by his father. Plot becomes secondary as we quickly discover that it’s all about the weight the film places behind form and pattern:
Motifs give unity! TIME - lost time, clocks, watches, a mafia boss turned watchmaker or seller, regret, lost love, surreal last scene involving a painted counterclockwise moving watch. DEAD/MISSING PEOPLE: old lover lost in the Cultural Revolution, wife dead after man comes from prison, mobster dreaming of buried-alive-dead-son, old music players no longer alive, young kid sold away, half brother lost to gaming.
Young directors are bold and at times explicit. I’ll take Bi Gan over Xavier Dolan for his deep connection to grand themes.
Kaili Blues - A Chinese Macondo
© Bogdan Stamatin 2020