Have a Nice Day would like you to think very hard about that statement

Thesis: With visual style emulating American realism

contemporary China lives in a cultural limbo, a vacuum of culture after the Cultural revolution, that's been half-heartedly replaced with Western capitalist and consumerist values, resulting in a crude and indiscriminate haphazard amalgam of cultural values that arbitrarily pull from Western, Maoist, and Republican sentiments.

American Realism was a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. The movement began in literature in the mid-19th century, and became an important tendency in visual art in the early 20th century. Whether a cultural portrayal or a scenic view of downtown New York City, American realist works attempted to define what was real.

 

First viewing: 

  • Pacing: Glacial pacing that lingers on the landscape and the physical space more so than the characters and the events that unfold in them; at first watch, the film seems almost self-indulgent and progressing towrds nowhere. It's one of those films that have you hoping that it will all make sense of itself at the end, and in that regard, Have a good day does not disappoint. The last ten minutes of the film quickly pick up the pace and propel us towards a carefully constructed final destination--revealing to us that we had indeed been steadi

    Have a Nice Day would like you to think very hard about that statement

  • Pacing: Glacial pacing that lingers on the landscape and the physical space more so than the characters and the events that unfold in them; at first watch, the film seems almost self-indulgent and progressing towrds nowhere. It's one of those films that have you hoping that it will all make sense of itself at the end, and in that regard, Have a good day does not disappoint. The last ten minutes of the film quickly pick up the pace and propel us towards a carefully constructed final destination--revealing to us that we had indeed been steadily chugging towards a very specific place. 
  • Tone/Thematic content: Despite what Producer Yang Cheng might have to say (or being told to say) about the film having nothing to do with politics, the political undertones are hard to miss. The film itself was pulled from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Annecy, France--reportedly having been unable to obtain clearance from the Chinese government for international viewing. 
    • Donald Trump presidential victory speech on the radio 
    • Kitschy Maoist propaganda scene for two characters wanting to steal the bag of money to become farmers in Shangri-La
    • "Without Brother Bao...none of us would have any money" -- the backwateredness of a Buddhist monk, the symbol of asceticism, being the all important kingpin who literally makes the "money go round"....a commentary on the logical fallacies of communist China? commentary on corrupt politicians and supporters of communism 
    • Capitalist mentality that fuels each character--the last shot of the entire film is a closeup on the bag of money, ultimately belonging to noone, as all the characters have died 
      • Talk of start-ups and American capitalism--> Steve Jobs & Gates & Zuckerburg
      • Let's start a restaurant 
      • Inextricable ties between American and Chinese economic and political relations; "Have a nice day" a ubiquitous phrase found on bags of Chinese takeout in American cities. 
  • Narratology-Short moments of unassuming dialogue reveal deeper facets of China's political and cultural landscape
    • Conversation between hitman and Xiao Zhang --> Pressures of marriage, loyalty to his mother
    • Are you going to marry me now? I'm not a golddigger
    • The constant weight of financial matters 
    • "Who is more powerful, God or Buddha?", They're all the big bosses -> likening religious figures to crime lords, they're all powerful, believe in whoever you want. Implying the loss of traditional religious values in China--mourning it....
      •  Supported by the Boss's interrogation of his painter childhood friend, reminiscing on the early days of their childhood, their brotherhood... -> "Bull shit. There's no such thing as a friendly brotherly relationship" -> allusion to Maoist regime, and the surge of corrupted politicians that have emerged from that era; the unfulfilled promises of Chinese nationalist that have transpired since the days of the Cultural revolution
      • Girl and guy who work at motorcycle shop--he got his fortune read at the shrine, saying that he would "be wealth and glory, but face hardship until he was 28. To test him" to which she responds, "Wealth and glory? You really believe in that shit? You have to wake up and face reality. You're an amount to nothing motorcycle shop part-timer and that's all you're gonna be". <-- shattered illusion of 
  • Sound - Use of music is very sparing, which make the long cuts feel especially longer. The film itself is only 77 minutes, but it feels as if we are watching events happen in real time, not the truncated scenes that we see as a result of snappy editing 
  • Visuals - Speaking of how such films tackle serious issues, he cites examples of French-Iranian film Persepolis (2007) and Israeli production Waltz with Bashir (2008), both of which deal with weighty topics in realistic ways, and were nominated for the Academy Awards.
    • Neo-noir Chinese gangster film; but with less of a dramatic narrative flair. The film sets out in an almost observatory perspective. We see lots of landscapes, establishing shots.; less of a drmatic flair than say, a tarantino movie, but more of the brooding tone of the godfather movies
  • About the Director/film: Lejoy animation studio.  Currently playing in Angelika Film Center all week
  • y chugging towards a very specific place. 
  • Despite what Producer Yang Cheng might have to say (or being told to say) about the film having nothing to do with politics, the political undertones are hard to miss. The film itself was pulled from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in Annecy, France--reportedly having been unable to obtain clearance from the Chinese government for international viewing.