24 City (Er shi si cheng ji) (2008)
Critic Consensus: One of China's most talented directors blurs the lines between non-fiction, drama, and musical theater in this vivid portrait of a country in cultural flux.
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Critic Reviews for 24 City (Er shi si cheng ji)
Through interviews with retired workers and faux interviews with scripted characters, Jia brings long-repressed history to life on an intimate scale.
A blend of documentary and drama which is by turns movingly authentic and deliberately artificial.
In [Jia Zhangke's] chronicle of the changing fortunes of a defunct but once glorious aeronautic factory and its workers through talking heads and wordless images exclusively, the documentary strain prevails to simple, yet emotionally reverberating effect.
24 City includes evocative footage of Factory 420's dismantling, but emphasizes people over place.
Strongest moments are when the pristine HD lensing by Hong Kong's Yu Lik-wai (a Jia regular) and Wang Yu, and warm string music by Yoshihiro Hanno, take over in montages showing the gradual dismantling of the factory.
Audience Reviews for 24 City (Er shi si cheng ji)
Compelling story of a decision to destroy a long time munitions factory to make way for a condo development. It is a story that is told worldwide as politics and economics change. Would merit a higher rating but the director chose to use both real former factory workers and actors. The result is slightly disjointed and a bit misleading.
Thankfully, "24 City" is not a continuation of the television series "24." All kidding aside, it is easier to describe what "24 City" is not, than what it is. Ostensibly, it is about the tearing down of Factory 420 in Chengdu City in order to make way for luxury apartments. That is only a starting point for an exploration of the recent history of China as it has moved from a country always on a war footing to one that is now ruled by capital, with the airplanes once made in the factory now museum pieces. This is told through static interviews with former workers, managers and others involved in the factory, the last of whom being Su Na(Tao Zhao), a professional shopper who frequently travels to Hong Kong for her clients. And as you can see and I have read elsewhere, some of these subjects are played by actors and I am not really sure which ones are which. One interviewee, Gu Minhua, who claims she was once compared to Joan Chen is actually Joan Chen. So, basically, "24 City" sits on the edge of documentary and experiment, not totally successful, that maybe should have been attempted on a stage, instead.
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