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 »
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 »
In Shanghai in the 1880s there are four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (called madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The ... See full summary »
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
Ah-Ching and his friends have just finished school in their island fishing village, and now spend most of their time drinking and fighting. Three of them decide to go to the port city of ... See full summary »
Taipei. A voice off-camera looks back ten years to 2000, when Vicky was in an on-again off-again relationship with Hao-Hao. She's young, lovely, and aimless. He's a slacker. Cigarettes and ... See full summary »
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 »
While Hou is concerned with socio-political themes, Goodbye South, Goodbye's story is far less interesting than the method of its presentation. Not until the second screening did I care much about the events of the plot, but the intricate direction is amazing.
The acting appears very realistic, not, I think, because of great actors, but because Hou controls their environment so carefully. I feel they directly express less than the subtler expressiveness of Hou's style: long takes, colour filters, off-screen sound effects, vehicle-based dolly shots, compositions through doorways and over foreground obstacles, music.
But Hou doesn't even seem preoccupied by his motifs. Driving this film is a precise rhythm. Hou is perfectly willing to shuffle his scenes out of narrative order so long as it produces the desired change in tone and tempo. Also, some moments of dramatic importance are prequeled in the previous four or five (less relevant) scenes. And just before these consequential moments he pulls off the most interesting gimmick of all: long (3-4 minutes) shots of miniscule (?) narrative value; it's all so superficially dull!
Which seems to be the exact point. Successfully, Hou lulls us into a relaxed state-of-mind before hitting us on the head with a pivotal scene. Very manipulative but how clever! When you're in the safe hands of a proficient director, the devices they use to assault the senses become digestible. So, even though my sense of narrative timing and progression was confronted in Goodbye South, Goodbye, it didn't lower my level of appreciation. As for the story? Well....
But Lim Giong is terrific and so is his music!
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