Buddha Mountain 观音山 (Guan Yin Shan) [2010] • China

By-the-numbers indie. I didn't believe any of the actors made contact with the feelings the characters were supposed to be feeling because everything comes off as an impression, rather than anything of substance. Li Yu, who directed 2007's wonderful Lost in Beijing, doesn't seem to have a story to tell here, as much as simply having a desire to make a film in this style, and feature disillusionment as a theme. The hand-held camera-work didn't bother me, but the framing and composition of shots did. They seemed forced and almost precious, and the actors merely vogued their way through scenes.

Fan Bingbing, who was so good in Lost in Beijing, her first film with director Li, seems to treat this one like it's automatic art-house street cred. The story is uninspired: Three young drifters meet a single mom who is still mourning the death of her only son, and they all have an angst competition. That should be indie grill; it's not in this case. It's just shots of people pensively staring off into space, and scenes of people pensively walking around aimlessly while the fog rolls by and the music meanders. Indie film school 101. It was very hard to finish this film because I didn't care about any of the characters. Caring about characters may not be necessary, although the director clearly hoped for it, so I'm going to make up a word to describe my experience, to differentiate it from not caring. I discared  the characters.

Director: Yu Li
Starring: Sylvia Chang, Bo-lin Chen, Bingbing Fan, Helong Wang