Over a span of decades, Jia Zhangke has built up a reputation as perhaps the greatest working filmmaker in all of China, which is to say one of the best in the world. And with the master’s latest endeavor, he’ll add “movie star” to that already-impressive résumé.
An item from The Hollywood Reporter notes that Jia will soon venture before the other side of the camera for his proper debut performance as actor. He’ll lead the upcoming drama Pseudo Idealist for director Cheng Er, portraying a “middle-aged artist who makes new discoveries about himself, life and art by probing his feelings during the process of creation,” to quote the official plot summary. (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s known in the business as ‘type casting.’)
Jia has acted before, albeit in more minor capacities, having made cameos in such films as The Continent and his own A Touch of Sin. His latest gig represents a greater challenge for Jia, however, as the first role requiring a fully-formed arc (not to mention location shooting in Tokyo).
It’s not uncommon for directors to try their hand as thespians; from Martin Scorsese’s appearance as the bile-spewing would-be murderer in Taxi Driver’s back seat to David Cronenberg’s extensive character work in low-rent genre projects, the divides between the cineaste and their subjects have always been permeable. Jia’s newest adventure smacks more of the French New Wave belief that a filmmaker would ideally be all things, both director and actor and writer and critic.
A festival run or Western release for Pseudo Idealist has yet to be announced, but this will surely be a continued topic of interest for the many Jia completists out there. Just look at that photo – he’s already got the knowing, wise eyes of a Cate Blanchett.
Published 11 Oct 2019
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