Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
Weighing up the lousy prospects of young Chinese on the scruffy fringes of the new market economy, Jia Unknown Pleasures, like its characters, has a terrific, gritty authenticity. Bin Bin and Xiao Ji are teenage boys at a loose end in the dusty provincial city of Datong, their heads jumping with western pop culture. Xiao Ji fancies Qiao Qiao, a singer in a tacky liquor promotion and the girlfriend of a local loan shark. Bin Bin is involved, sort of, with a clean-cut college-bound student. Trouble happens. Shooting on digital video, Jia Zhangke, the most striking of ‘new, new generation’ Chinese directors, nails the fractious energy of the streets, the video parlours, noodle joints and karaoke bars, while surpassing the visual accomplishment of his earlier Xiao Wu and Platform.
“A triumphant blend of documentary and drama, Unknown Pleasures is sensational filmmaking.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice
“A must-see… the most gifted and stylistically and thematically contemporary Chinese filmmaker to have emerged in years.” — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader