24 City (Er shi si cheng ji) Reviews
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.
Multi-award winner Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke returns to fiction with "24 City" after winning Venice“s Gold Lion in 2006 with "Sanxia haoren" (in the same year he saw his documentary "Dong" win two awards and in 2007 he won another one for the documentary "Wuyong"). "24 City" was produced in 2008 and the director (as of 2010) has already another short and a new documentary.
Jia Zhang-Ke, who also co-wrote the script, uses the closing of state factory 420 (a military unit facility) in Chengdu and the conversion its grounds into a huge housing and commercial complex named 24 City (24 City is an old poem) to show us how China is changing. Versatility as a fictionist and a documentarist are as must important as the director steals the structure from documentary and fuses documentary with fiction. Jia Zhang-Ke shots several characters from different generations telling us their life experiences, all of them having some connection to the factory (some are real interview with factory workers; others are fictional played by actors). The factory serves as a common point between characters but also as a symbol of a changing China; this change is evident in the speech, experiences and expectations from the different generations during the course of the movie. As the movie progresses the film wins consistency and unity. Bridging between the different interviews are sequences that show the dismantling of factory 420 as well as the new project to be implemented and we also accompany some of the characters in their lives; Zhang-Ke uses songs and phrases from Chinese and non-Chinese poets in these segments. If trough the words of his characters in the interviews the director manages to put to testimony a China in mutation with the bridging segments we reinforces that messages through the art of music and poetry. China's change is not only economic but also cultural and it is obvious some degree of occidentalization/globalization of the new generation. It is here where real and fictional gain significance as we get the feeling that there seems to be a mixture of both in the history of China's mutation. "24 City" is a good film. *** (3/5).