Winter Vacation (Han Jia). Film Review by Andriy Mishchenko Monday Oct. 11, 10:45am @ Pacific Cinematheque (1116 Howe St.)
If you see Li Hongqi's film, Winter Vacation, please come armed with lots of patience. It's not a bore, but you need to wait for things to develop. The screening I was in had lots of people leaving, they couldn't handle such waiting. Because, at its core, Winter Vacation is about nothing.
In a small factory town in northern China, school is out for winter vacation. The problem is there's not a whole lot to do. But, like in Seinfeld, 'doing nothing' is perfect comedic territory.
Chubby babies badmouth their elders and go on the run. Parka-clad adolescents sit around on abandoned sofas in the deep freeze discussing the ins and outs of their sex lives. One family's only piece of sort of formal attire goes missing and emerges re-woven into something else altogether. Doesn't sound like much, but just trust that it's hilarious.
The cinematography here is quite spectacular. Each crumbling Soviet-style housing block and non-descript path is given a deep, saturated treatment. The end result looks like the best urban decay photography; sometimes the action is almost a bit of an afterthought.
Go see this!
Verdict: Highly Recommended