Free and Easy ★★★★

I saw someone call this a comedy version of A Touch of Sin and that is quite fitting. With patience and beautifully shot urban decay this is a relentless satire of a corrupt society. Capitalists, religions, and different levels of government alike lay waste to the crumbling little town that the story takes place in.

It is done with a grim sense of humor that you wouldn't see from Jia Zhangke though. The acting is quite muted and deadpan, but the situations are laugh-out-loud hilarious if you are into that kind of cynical arthouse dark comedy. So much can be made of quietly disappointed, tired, or surprised reactions by to absurd situations by crooked characters.

The simple setup in an almost deserted decaying town and just a few characters, each representing a different institution creates an eerie environment and artificial encounters. It may suck some energy out of the movie to put it in such a fantasy setting, but there is a certain focused cinematic power in getting characters into western style 1-on-1 showdowns. And it is well suited for making those encounters satirically charged.