Amazing. Jia's films just get better and better. 24 City is not only the logical culmination of his hybrid technique, it is also his most profound and cathartic delineation of how The New conspires to supplant The Human in contemporary China.
China's transformation from rural communist industry to capitalist powerhouse is a topic that never fails to interest me. All of Zhangke's movies shows this transformation in brilliant fashion. I had a hard time distinguishing acted interviews from the real ones, which speaks to the power and mystery of these stories. Joan Chen's part was the best.
24 City answers the question: what does it feel like to be a robot keeping a giant machine alive? Much like Kafka's Castle, the robots don't know what the machine is, where it is from or what it is thinking.
A reminder that every person has their unique backstory. The world of humans is an ever growing intricate web driven by these centres of emotional lives.
This is what the film does beautifully. The global wars and peace, the national decisions and the local events all dance with the emotional lives of participants and bystanders.
In this case all those involved in Factory 402.