Liu Jian, an independent Chinese animation filmmaker, emerges as a clever, elite director to look out for. Participating in the The Berlin International Film Festival (otherwise known as Berlinale) with sophomore feature Have a Nice Day (好极了, Hao jí le) – a slice-of-day triad flick with a touch of the Coen Brothers’ dark humour – he’s received positive substantial remarks from film critics and may very well be paving the way for young aspiring animators from the region who want to do more than just kids’ cartoons.
It’s a delight to see contrasting touches of everyman banality, gangster philosophy, and the macabre setting of China’s underworld in an animated feature. Dark comedy oftentimes isn’t the genre of choice in a country where alternative animation isn’t exactly a thing yet, and rather the usual animated movies with the intention to sell to audiences with the shortest of attention span make the rounds.
Watch a clip below:
With an animation style that’s closer to the peak of Flash animation via Newgrounds.com than the expected rotoscope effect a la A Scanner Darkly, Have a Nice Day looks like a more artsy Adult Swim feature than other animated movies of its ilk.
The tale is set in contemporary Southern China and revolves around several people from diverse backgrounds with different personal motives centred on a stolen bag containing a million Yuan. Which all lead up to a bloody conflict.