Tuesday, January 19, 2010

City of Remembrance: 24 City

24 City (2008) - Jia
A nostalgic docudrama about changing times in Chengdu. I see this as a natural progression of Jia Zhang-ke (Platform, Unknown Pleasures) who is suited for being a documentary filmmaker as Wes Anderson is for cartoons. He blends interviews with real former factory workers and known actors playing them (Joan Chen and Zhao Tao) with the backdrop of the last days of state owned aeronautics factory. As in other Jia films, the main attraction here is its cinematography. Yu Lik-Wai's measured, slow tracking, panning and crane shots are beautiful without being romantic (it doesn't come across as phony as Olmi's I Fidanzati which was just a glorified Calvin Klein commercial). In a way, it's obviously not a true documentary since every shot is staged carefully and one can argue that Jia is just scratching the surface of the history. Featuring known actors also takes a bit out of its emotional impact. What is totally objective though? Jia lets all the judgments slip by. 24 City is a quiet observation of time passing done masterfully, if not too slickly.


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