In the first half of this century, young Li Tienlu joines a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. During World War II the Japanese... See full summary »
The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's ... See full summary »
Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »
Based from true story, primarily a conflict between two youth gangs, 14-year-old young boy's girlfriend conflict with the head of the gang for unclear reason, until finally there was a painfully incident.
A-yuan and A-yun are both from the small mining town of Jio-fen. In the city, A-yuan is an apprentice by day and goes to night school, and A-yun works as a helper at a tailors. Everyone ... See full summary »
Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme... See full summary »
When a young brother and sister spend a pivotal summer away from home, they are changed. Ting-Ting and Tung-Tung (Wang Qiguang) are children of the city, but when their mother is struck ill... See full summary »
This depiction of childhood and adolescence draws heavily from the filmmaker's own boyhood. Like many of their compatriots, Hou's family moved from the mainland to Taiwan in 1948 and was unable ever to return. The film focuses on the widening generation gap in a family cut off from its cultural heritage. Written by
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This film is inspired by screenwriter-turned-director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's coming-of-age story. It is the second installment of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Coming-of-Age Trilogy" that features three prominent Taiwanese screenwriters' coming-of-age stories - the other two are _My Summer at Grandpa's (1984)_ (inspired by the childhood memories of Chu Tien-Wen) and _Dust in the Wind (1986)_ (inspired by the coming-of-age story of Wu Nien-Jen). See more »
The Taiwanese movie Tong nien wang shi was shown in the U.S. with the title A Time to Live, a Time to Die (1985). The movie was co-written and directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou, and is said to be semi-autobiographical.
The film is a coming of age story of Ah-Ha, whom we meet as a boy of about seven, and whose life we follow until his late teen years. Ah-Ha's family fled China in 1947, and now live in Taiwan. At first, there was still talk about recapturing the mainland, although those discussions faded away as the reality became clear. Still, Ah-Ha's grandmother is convinced that she can walk back to the mainland, and frequently asks people to help her to get there.
If the movie does, indeed, contain autobiographical elements, Hsiao-hsien Hou had a difficult boyhood. His family was poor, and Illness stalked them. As a teenager, Ah-Ha joins a gang that is extraordinarily violent. (The violence takes place off screen, but it is an ever-present plot element in the second half of the film.)
The plot doesn't give us too many heart-rending moments, but it's still very grim. In fact, as I thought back about it, there was only one truly positive scene whento Ah-Ha's astonishment--his grandmother is able to juggle three guavas. Imagine a movie that is more than two hours long, and has only about 30 seconds of true happiness in it.
It's hard to recommend a movie like this, but, on the positive side, the camera work is brilliant, the acting is excellent, and the film gives us a glimpse of what life was like for a Chinese subculturepeople from the mainland who migrated to Taiwan.
We saw this movie at the excellent Dryden Theatre at Eastman House in Rochester, NY as part of a Hsiao-hsien Hou retrospective. It will work well on DVD.
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