Saturday, April 9, 2011

Moving Life

Still Life (2006) - Jia
The Three Gorges Dam, the largest man-made project in human history, has become a symbol of China's ambition to be a global superpower where some sacrifices are regarded as inevitable. Sound of hammering and sentimental pop ballads always in the background, Still Life's new urban development against picturesque mountains is nothing but still. It concerns two relationships being tested - the human cost of changing times. However small and trivial, Jia applies communal activities to connect people, dividing the film in to separate chapters - Cigarettes, Liquor, Tea and Toffee.

Unlike some of my peers, I was never wowed by Jia's films. I'm still not 100 percent convinced that Jia is a great director. Still Life, another one of his carefully composed, thoughtful narrative/doc hybrid on changing times in China, is very good indeed. Jia regular Zhao Tao's story of a wife of a workaholic is not really necessary and leaves the film somewhat asymmetrical.

My main gripe with him has always been his too polished style which betrays the subjects he's documenting. Same with this film. I like 24 City a little better.

My 24 City Review

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