Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we’re looking at Walter Salles' doc about Chinese film giant Jia Zhangke.
In the opening scene of Jia Zhangke’s sublime Mountains May Depart, characters dance to the Pet Shop Boys’ euphoric rendition of “Go West”. The song may have been a demand for a gay utopia, but it is also an apt choice for a movie in which characters slowly shift from rural China to the blue skies and bright lights of Australia. Zhangke’s characters are often caught between two worlds, travelling down a road (literal of metaphorical) to an unknown future and it is these pervading themes that have made him the unofficial cinematic chronicler of modern day China. They are also what makes Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang such a fitting tribute to the man.
Directed by Walter Salles, A Guy from Fenyang follows the director in intimate fashion as he returns to his hometown as well as prominent filming locations featured across his filmography in movies like Xiao Wu, The World, Platform, Still Life (my personal favourite of his works), and most prominently A Touch of Sin for which this doc was made as a sort of companion piece. [More...]