Unknown Pleasures (2003)
Unknown Pleasures takes place in China, in the small city of Datong, in 2001, where disaffected teenagers look for any kind of excitement to enliven their dreary existence. Bin Bin (Zhao Wei Wei) dates a quiet student, Yuan Yuan (Zhou Qing Feng) who's thinking of going to university in Beijing. They spend their time together holding hands, watching karaoke and Monkey King videos, and despairing for the future. Bin Bin envies the Monkey King his freedom. Bin Bin has quit his job at a local market, but he doesn't tell his mother (Bai Ru). When she finds out, she wants him to join the army. His less circumspect friend, Xiao Ji (Wu Qiong), stalks a flashy performer, Qiao Qiao (Zhao Tao), who promotes Mongolian King liquor and dates a gangster. The gangster doesn't appreciate Xiao Ji's attentions and slaps him around. Qiao Qiao seems to like him, but as free-spirited as she seems, she's afraid to defy her violent boyfriend. Bin Bin tries selling bootleg DVDs on the street to earn a living. One of his customers, a thug named Xiao Wu (Wang Hong Wei) complains that Bin Bin doesn't carry underground titles like Pickpocket and Platform (writer-director Jia Zhang Ke's previous features), but is pleased to find Pulp Fiction. Inspired by the latter film's opening, Bin Bin and Xiao Ji plot an ill-fated bank robbery. Unknown Pleasures showed in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was also selected for the 2002 New York Film Festival. … More
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Critic Reviews for Unknown Pleasures
Jia creates some poignant images to convey key transitions in the characters' lives.
[Director Zhang-ke] Jia's virtuoso long takes, choreographed mise en scene, and feeling for character and behavior place him in a class by himself.
A stunning study of ennui.
May be Jia's most concentrated evocation of contemporary China's spiritual malaise.
In its effort to evoke pity, Unknown Pleasures chiefly evokes agitation and frustration.
despite the distinct lack of good times and belly laughs, Unknown Pleasures is a great film.
Despite the fact that there's little dramatic arc, little dialogue and little joy in the lives of its characters, Unknown Pleasures is riveting.
[Music] has the ability to connect with everyone, and perhaps international audiences will connect with the Chinese youth of Unknown Pleasures for the exact same reason.
Hard to turn away from, but also damn hard to sit through ... there is a difference between inspiring a sense of alienation in one's audience, and merely alienating them
This sequel to Jia's excellent 1997 drama Xiao Wu is less original and absorbing than its predecessor, and less visually impressive than Platform.
While there are some beautifully shot, subtle moments in the film that encapsulate the desperation and degradation of the characters, the director ends up alienating his audience in an attempt to display the alienation of his characters.
The actors in Unknown Pleasures generate sympathy from their sullen good looks as much as any acting ability.
An occasionally fascinating but ultimately undercooked portrait of the young and disaffected.
There's a telling disjunction between the dismal lives of Jia's characters and the optimism of China's officially sunny advance into the 21st century.
Audience Reviews for Unknown Pleasures
I understand what was being done and being said, but in the end it just fails to captivate its viewer. The shots are just too long and the characters are not interesting enough for a two hour movie centered around character development. Shooting this on digital video was a nice choice, but that's about the best thing I can say about this. It was the only sense of realism that worked. The influences of this are bright as day and it's easy to conclude that they are all movies i'd rather have watched instead of this.More
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