Ichiyama Shozo

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24 City Review


Excellent
Perhaps I just have to say it plainly: Jia Zhang-ke is the most original and hyper-modern filmmaker currently at work in the foreign film industry. He is certainly the most perceptive and important director out of the swell of "Sixth Generation" filmmakers coming out of China. Speaking directly to his country's dead past, evaporating present, and the rampant juggernaut of progress, Zhang-ke conjures times, people, and places -- both invented and startlingly real -- but all very much of the beguiling now.

Still Life, the director's last stateside-distributed film object about the displaced wanderers surviving on the outskirts of the Three Gorges Dam project, demonstrated how very strange life in rural China has become. In Jia's new film 24 City, which takes place in Chengdu City, the most memorable images are more subdued and compacted: An assembly of workers singing "The International," a factory being demolished, Joan Chen playing a one-time factory employee whose co-workers remark that she resembles Joan Chen.

Continue reading: 24 City Review

Unknown Pleasures Review


Excellent
"The songs, the songs, the bloody, bloody songs..." So said British screenwriter Dennis Potter in his tough-edged nostalgia series The Singing Detective. And maybe we hold on to them because we identify and attach so many feelings to those dumb pop tunes: our childhood, relationships, break-ups, high school boredom, etc. The poverty stricken, disaffected teenagers of Jia Zhangke's Unknown Pleasures wind up using songs to express desires and dreams so buried they don't even know where it's coming from. But continually, Jia's camera lingers on glazed young faces (set against backdrops of urban decay) as they softly sing to themselves. Music is the thing that brings us all together, and to paraphrase Stanley Kubrick, a truck driver can empathize with a Beatles tune as surely as a Harvard scholar. It has the ability to connect with everyone, and perhaps international audiences will connect with the Chinese youth of Unknown Pleasures for the exact same reason.

Unemployed boys go girl crazy in Unknown Pleasures, and one of them, Xiao Ji (Wu Qiong) falls hard for a singer (Zhao Tao) and sometime prostitute. She's unique in that she sells herself and her body, while at the same time promoting Mongolian King liquor for her money grubbing boyfriend. That's the almost cutesy story, told in lingering wide shots and photographed for maximum naturalism on digital video. The video actually serves to undercut whatever sentimentality might be there in the awkward gazes between girls and boys... the tone of the picture is hard documentary realism, the length of the takes emphasizes the discomfort of real time.

Continue reading: Unknown Pleasures Review

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Ichiyama Shozo Movies

Unknown Pleasures Movie Review

Unknown Pleasures Movie Review

"The songs, the songs, the bloody, bloody songs..." So said British screenwriter Dennis Potter in...

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