A town in Fengjie county is gradually being demolished and flooded to make way for the Three Gorges Dam. A man and woman visit the town to locate their estranged spouses, and become witness to the societal changes.
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jia zhangke´s films don´t take me immediately, from the beginning, they grow in me slowly and crawl under the skin silently so i don´t even notice. it´s like when i read some of kafka´s short stories and the language and the subject seem perfectly ordinary and suddenly i find myself in wonder, how and where the course changed and i try to go back and read again in order to find that specific curve that changed
I'm amazed how well received this is. The impressive cinematography lacks care. Zhang-ke's overly neutral framing (a problem I had with Platform) gives the characters' emotions little expression. The shallow depth of field makes for a rather irksome aesthetic due to whatever high fps, telephoto lens is being used. A sense of reality without humility. Frustrating, because Zhangke is technically very skilled. 3/5
One of the few films I have seen in which with every movement of the camera, the director conveys and adds up to the general portrayal of 'modern' China with it's duality of destruction/reconstruction, whilst focusing on the harsh environment of the everyday man and woman in search of their past. Film as time capsule - It has it's representative example here.
Still life: 1) the painterly dimension of filmmaking; the camera settling on the immobility of scenes, the alternate boredom and vitality of a class of Chinese person whose life is structured around labour (and, hence, global capital) 2) life which still counts as life; life which survives and develops even as various forms of governmental demolition threaten to sever the populous from its forms-of-life