The Black Square / 黒四角
The Black Square, Hiroshi Okuhara’s meandering piece of kitchen sink surrealism is filled with interesting backdrops, images and characters and a few too many half-baked and hermetic situations to justify its 2 plus hours. The film takes place in Beijing’s Song Zhuang Artist Village, a Tarkovski-esqe landscape of industrial buildings with the natural world reclaiming the space. A mysterious black square appears, hovering over a field. Soon, a man (Hideo Nakaizumi) emerges from it. An alien? A foreigner? He has no memory or history. He’s taken in by Zhao Ping (Chen Xixu), a struggling artist and his girlfriend Hana (Miki Suzuki), also an artist. He begins developing a relationship with Zhao’s sister Lihua (Dan Hong) in this milieu of art world outliers. Throughout all this, there are flashbacks to a Japanese/Chinese love story that takes place during the Sino-Japanese War, new age-y musings on spiritual bonds and love that all sort of reflect on the goings-on of Mr. Black Square and his contemporary cronies. Ultimately, director Okuhara’s self indulgence feels more like a black hole.
Originally published in EL Magazine, May 2014.