Author’s Note: This is the only piece that, in originally published form, I would repudiate. Not for what I wrote (it’s best to own every word you commit to paper, no matter your feelings in retrospect), but for what I didn’t. In the magazine and on the website, the review begins with two sentences penned by Time Out’s then-E.I.C. at the last moment, issue-close deadline looming. (I won’t be reprinting them here; you can see them by clicking either the…
Dir. Jia Zhangke. 2008. N/R. 112mins. Joan Chen, Liping Lū, Zhao Tao.
There is no image as directly strange and elating in writer-director Jia Zhangke’s 24 City as the apartment-building rocketship from his 2006 feature, Still Life. This is a more subtle and insinuating piece of work, one whose effectiveness—especially for those of us with only a cursory understanding of Chinese arts, history and politics—hinges on advance knowledge that it is an intentional blend of fiction and documentary.
Set in Sichuan province’s…
[Published September 9th, 2019, Slant Magazine]
Waititi prefers to treat his audience like drooling cretins who need their hands held through every shift in tone, reassured that everything, even in a world off its axis, is going to work out. It doesn’t help that this misguided production is utterly devoid of laughs, though I admit to cracking a desperate smile when the nitwit Nazi played by Sam Rockwell demands that an underling bring him German shepherds, as in the dogs, and is instead delivered shepherds who are German. It’s a flash of punny bliss in what’s otherwise Marvel Presents Mein Kampf.