November 19, 2013
If you're looking for cinematic novelty, China is the place to keep an eye on these days. Even though some patterns are slowly emerging, almost every new film coming out of China is a new adventure. Some good, some bad, but never stale or uninspired.
Lai Li Bu Ming (Unidentified) is part of a movement of Chinese films that combines a typical Chinese, rural setting with modern (urban) fantasy, romance and comedy elements. The first time I encountered this was when I watched Hu Guan's Cow, now it seems like more and more films are trying to follow in its footsteps.
The story of Unidentified is about a recluse living in the middle of nowhere. He has no money or worldly possession, apart from the home-made tools he uses to watch the skies. One day his peaceful live is turned upside down when a mute ends up on his doorstep. It's the start of a series of strange events, involving the mute, an archaeologist, a group of tree planters and a local triad gang.
Unidentified is weird mix of styles and genres, held together by impressive visuals, solid acting and the feeling you're watching a film that doesn't lets itself be easily compared to every other film you've seen. When put next to Cow Guan's film does a better job of balancing everything together, but Unidentified stands well on its own and leaves me hopeful for the immediate future of Chinese cinema. It may be a little hard to come by, but it's definitely worth checking out if you happen upon it.