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 ...
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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 »
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 »
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 »
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 men gather around tables of food, playing drinking games. An opium pipe is at hand. The women live within dark-paneled walls. The atmosphere is stifling, as if Chekhov was in China. The melancholy Wang is Crimson's patron; will he leave her for the younger Jasmin? Emerald schemes to buy her freedom, aided by patron Luo. Pearl, an aging flower, schools the willful Jade, who thinks she has a marriage agreement with young master Zhu. Is she dreaming? Women fade, or connive, or despair. Written by
The Taiwanese writer-director Hou Hsiao-hsien is regarded by many as the greatest living filmmaker, and FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI is widely considered one of the strongest contemporary movies. Hou's approach is both anthropological and highly formalized: this examination of the economics and Machiavellian power politics of a Shanghai brothel in the mid-1800's stays remote. The feeling is sometimes that of a news crew eager not to intrude, but the mise-en-scene evokes the mastery of space-carving in Kurosawa's HIGH AND LOW or Bresson's UNE FEMME DOUCE. Shot in wide, mobile masters that go on for four or five minutes at a stretch, FLOWERS is theatrical in the extreme, and, as in a Yuan drama or a Kun opera, Hou stays at a more than respectful reserve from his characters. For some, this spells high-art elegance; others may feel starved for vividness and human immediacy, and wish the film to end far sooner than it does.
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