Dong (Jia, 2006)

Jia discovers the poetry of cinema in the facial contours of his subjects, conflicted souls longing for some explanation in the face of extreme, life-altering change. In this documentary on painter Liu Xiao-dong, Jia constructs a non-fiction parallel to his wonderful narrative Still Life while profiling an artist dealing with the contradictory physical world around him, specifically his experiences at the Three Gorges Damn Project. Long takes slowly morph into somber revelations, completely in tandem with sounds of pick axes, motor boats, and other weapons of construction overwhelming the otherwise silent destitution. Both Still Life and Dong discover an elliptical and fantastical vein running beneath the destruction of the mise-en-scene and are works screaming out for multiple viewings.

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