24 City (Er shi si cheng ji)
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When the state-owned Factory 420 becomes a luxury apartment complex known as "24 City," the stories of three generations and eight characters meld together to offer an intimate glimpse into the history of China. The line between documentary and fiction blurs as the towering factories on which socialism was built are dismantled and employees are laid off, paving the way for a free-market economy. Located in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu, the 420 plant used to produce airplane engines. For more than 50 years, it was the center of life for hundreds of workers. Now, as builders… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film takes on an operatic feel, moving between euphoria for the new and lament for the lost."
‑ Dave Calhoun, Time Out
"The result is surprisingly engrossing -- even lively, due in part to brief musical numbers inserted amid the interviews."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"Zhangke never hints much about politics ... His is more the story of ordinary people caught up in history and still determined to live their lives as well as they can. It's both relevant and resonant."
‑ Derek Malcolm, This is London
"Punctuated with eyebrow-raising poems about aeronautics factories, its treacle-paced obliqueness will frustrate some viewers. But the pay-off's a layered, haunting portrait of China in its shift to a capitalist economy."
‑ Carmen Grey, Total Film
"Chinese arthouse fixture Jia Zhang Ke looks at the closure of a state-owned factory in Chengdu, combining real interviews with awkwardly am-dram mock ones."
‑ Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
"The director has an exquisite eye that keeps getting stronger and subtler. He trusts that beauty is vagueness's alluring upside."
‑ Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"Mr. Jia is an artist, one of the most interesting filmmakers working anywhere in the world, and he made his film to bear witness to a way of life while witnesses could still be found."
‑ Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"History weaves in and out of faces that purl their monologues -- real or scripted -- as Jia presents the past as a giant, invisible river."
‑ Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
"A deeply serious and sombre film, trying to find a way of telling the stories of people affected by the gigantic political and economic changes sweeping that country whose concerns must in the end affect us all: 21st-century China."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian [UK]
"Reflective historical documentary on ordinary Chinese workers."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"24 City won't change the minds of detractors -- it is his most painfully slow yet -- but it might change the minds of his supporters, including this critic, for Jia attempts something that is, in the end, unforgivable."
‑ G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
"The actors in 24 City, an experimental fiction-nonfiction hybrid, bring their own existential realities to their short, touching performances."
‑ Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"An intriguing hybrid of fiction and documentary, this film chronicles the dismantling of a notorious factory in Chengdu to make way for a new luxury community. It's skilfully assembled, but a bit dry for Western audiences."
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"Enthralling, beguiling and haunting."
‑ Matt Bochenski, Little White Lies
"As far as nonfiction goes, you probably won't seen anything else this year so beautifully filmed."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
More reviews for 24 City (Er shi si cheng ji) on Rotten Tomatoes

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