Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Good Film - The Bird People in China

The Bird People in China is a strange and beautiful "odd couple" film from Japanese director Takashi Miike, but set in China.
A lyrical, visually stunning work that deviates considerably from Takashi Miike's signature gorefests, BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA nonetheless explores many of his unifying themes; these include that of outsiders in pursuit of happiness in a foreign land, and a complex and unlikely relationship, played out this time between a mobster and a quiet businessman. Wada is a handsome salaryman who works for a jade company interested in mining a recently-discovered vein that runs through a remote village in China. The company sends Wada to investigate its purity, and en route he encounters a yakuza intent on securing a share of the company's profits for the mob. Together they set out for the village, guided by Shen, an old Chinese man whose sense of direction is doubtful. But Wada and the Yakuza are in constant conflict, irritating each other at every opportunity. Upon their eventual arrival in the village, they discover a picturesque idyll where the children receive instruction in flying, and during their stay the visitors each gain valuable insights into themselves, ultimately wondering if they should ever leave. The depth of the characters, the breathtaking scenery, and the slow, dreamlike pacing make this film a magical, poetic experience that is sure to enchant and haunt its audiences.
The relationship between the Yakuza,
Ujiie, and the business man, Wada, is handled well -- there is both humor and depth to the characters. Ujiie is a mobster, with all the authoritarian belief structures that go with that "job." But one senses he is more than he appears. Wada, on the other hand, is driven by success and progress. Both men undertake this journey reluctantly, and it shows in their conflict.

When they (finally) reach the Chinese village where the jade is supposed to be found, they discover a tribal people essentially untouched by time. Though they are aware of the outside world, and they desire some of its gifts (electricity, medicine), they seem to live happy lives.

How this village impacts the men is the foundation of the film. The landscape is beautiful, as are the people. What happens to the men when confronted with this more primitive lifestyle is interesting. The film takes both a progressive and romanticist view, somehow striking a tenuous balance that feels right.

Here is the trailer:

Online Videos by Veoh.com

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