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2009: The year in movies

By PETER KEOUGH  |  December 28, 2009

 

7. 24 City
Developers tear down a factory to build the complex of the title, tossing out the workers. It's a familiar scene, both here and in China, but Jia Zhang-ke shapes it into a cinematic poem about identity and loss. The stories of six of the ex-workers, as related by professional actors, are intercut with surreal images of the actual, Mao-era structure as it is torn down. In one sequence, tiny figures carry off the enormous Chinese characters from the sign over the gate; they look like leafcutter ants razing a tree. Jia matches his visuals with the reflexivity of his dramatized "interviews." A worker who is nicknamed "Little Flower" because she looks like the title character in the 1979 Zhang Zheng film is depicted by Joan Chen — who played Little Flower in the original movie.

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