Tuesday, October 12, 2010

二十四城记/二十四城記 Er shi si cheng ji (24 City)

Among the so-called Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers Jia Zhang ke absolutely is my favorite director and storyteller of ‘ordinary’ Chinese citizens compelling stories, told in what I can call very-realistic style no matter if story is real-life or fiction, or if film is documentary, fiction or a mix of both genres like what happens in 24 City.

It’s very difficult to remain a spectator while watching Jia’s films as characters, story and storytelling technique drag you inside the film quite fast to hold you inside story/ stories until the very last scene where you will feel completely satisfied after visiting the life of some people that exemplifies how China society has changed in the last 50 -or so- years. Using interviewers that we will never see but will hear we will watch amazing performances by actors and non-actors (who tell their real-life story) in what feels and look like monologues with some moments looking directly to camera while others just representing life moments, but all telling their compelling stories that go from how they became factory 420 workers until how the third generation with a more modern lifestyle (very western alike) will live in multi-story buildings with luxury flats at what now is called 24 City and will be built in what used to be factory 420 land.

If you’re familiar with Jia’s films you will recognize the actors from the non-actors as actors have been in many of his films, plus you also have well known actress Joan Chen; but all have great performances, so good that will make you feel and live whatever they’re sharing with you, the viewer.

Have to admit that is not an easy-to-watch style as maybe for some film will look like a series of interviews with people telling some interesting and other not-so-interesting stories; but if you’re familiar with Jia’s films I’m sure you’ll easily grab that film is a lot more than style. So, if you are not familiar with director’s work I strongly suggest you watch some of his films before watching this one, like for example Still Life, Platform or Unknown Pleasures.

I loved the film as a very human tale of China’s transition from a very controlled society to a ‘less-controlled’ society, a change that is happening so fast that learning about it (in films and/or real-life news) will amaze you. Not long ago I was reading about how in 10 years China built a comprehensive (and very modern) infrastructure and how now their efforts will be addressed to create a very-comprehensive ‘human infrastructure’. I feel Jia’s 24 City documents how China was able to address physic infrastructure while not taking much care about ‘human infrastructure’ and imagine that in 10 or so years maybe Jia could tell how the ‘human infrastructure’ was developed. Be sure that if he does I’ll be looking forward to watch his film as a learning experience but most of all as a visual and narrative very complete cinematic experience.


Watch trailer @MOC

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