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Change and a city in China. In Chengdu, factory 420 is being pulled down to make way for multi-story buildings with luxury flats. Scenes of factory operations, of the workforce, and of buildings stripped bare and then razed, are inter-cut with workers who were born in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s telling their stories - about the factory, which manufactured military aircraft, and about their work and their lives. A middle-aged man visits his mentor, now elderly; a woman talks of being a 19-year-old beauty there and ending up alone. The film concludes with two young people talking, each the child of workers, each relaying a story of one visit to a factory. Times change.Written by
During a press conference at the 61st Cannes Film Festival for the film, Zhangke Jia, Joan Chen and Tao Zhao observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the 2008 devastating earthquake in China. The film was shot in Chengdu, in Sichuan province where the earthquake struck. See more »
Where's the Future
Lyrics by Lim Giong
Composed by Lim Giong
Performed by Lim Giong See more »
As a factory is torn down to make way for a snazzy modern apartment complex, a group of people connected with the factory share their thoughts on how it affected their lives. The film is wonderful aesthetically, with gorgeous compositions, lovely use of music, and a poetic air to it, assisted by actual snippets of poetry in the inter titles. Something of a companion piece to STILL LIFE, Jia explores the consequences of urban renewal, and how our city landscapes shape who we are. Most intriguingly, he obliterates the line between documentary and drama, to the point where it almost seems useless to distinguish between them. Like Herzog, he's shooting for an "ecstatic truth," one that reflects reality without necessarily sticking to it. For the most part, it's an effective and engaging technique. The most glaring exception is Joan Chen, whose is of course recognizable but also comes off a bit too "actor-y" and her performance feels out of place. And there's the added distraction of her playing a person who resembles Joan Chen. It's just too nudge-nudge wink-wink meta. It didn't work in OCEAN'S TWELVE and it doesn't work here. I found Tao Zhao's performance a little phony as well. But it's certainly an interesting piece of work, covering the breadth of humanity with just a handful of monologues, in stories both universal and specific, and often heartbreaking.
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