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 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,
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 Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his ... 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 »
Forest fires burn in Sumatra; a smoke covers Kuala Lumpur. Grifters beat an immigrant day laborer and leave him on the streets. Rawang, a young man, finds him, carries him home, cares for ... 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 »
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 »
How to watch this film? Don't fall asleep at the wheel.
Those about to watch this modern masterpiece, be advised: you're going down a road of unexpected darkness and terror, cloaked in what appears to be the banal trappings of ordinary existence. But through the lens of Hou's camera, this is anything but ordinary.
To see this, one has to rid oneself of conventional thinking of what it means for a movie to "take" you somewhere. So when a critic whines, "I'm dying for a change of scenery!", it's obvious that they've too accustomed to standard-issue Hollywood storytelling to appreciate something entirely different and new: the mysterious, inexplicable rhythms of REAL LIFE. A life that alternates between static, stagnant waiting for things to happen, and sudden moments of motion and . The first shot explains so much of this: people who are moving and standing still at the same time -- who pass through light and darkness with the same impassive, zonked out expression, waiting for SOMETHING to happen while letting their favorite punk tune release their pent up energy, ambitions and frustrations.
So much of this film is like listening to a good song -- just allowing yourself to be bathed in sensation, to delight in little things that you notice but add so much to the overall experience. You simply can't demand standard point A to point B plot points on a movie that is interested in something entirely different. Because LIFE DOES NOT HAVE PLOT POINTS. What it does have are a multitude of wonders, in gestures, colors, and moments of surprising joy and terror. And what does it all lead to? Who knows. That's why it's life. So when someone says "Why watch a film if there's not a single worthwhile aspect to offer?" he's obviously dissassociated the experience of movies from the experience of real life.
As I've re-watched and reflected on this film, I find it to be one of the essential statements on what it's like to live in the fast lane of modern-day, globalized civilization. This film may resemble American small-time gangster flicks (most notably MEAN STREETS and GOODFELLAS) but compared to this movie those movies, as great as they are, seem simple-minded in their narrative structure and explicated themes. This film gives you the feeling of what it FEELS like to be in the shoes of these sorry saps, with all their petty ambitions and fears that end up meaning quite a lot by the time we get to that terrifying last shot, where a big nothing moment amounts to everything.
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