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 »
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 »
(1) "A Time for Love": In 1966, in Kaohsiung, Chen meets May playing pool in a bar when he is joining the army. He sends letters to her and he comes to the bar to meet her again in his leave. However, May had traveled to another place and Chen seeks her out. (2) "A Time for Freedom": In 1911, in Dadaochend, the writer Mr. Chang works for Mr. Liang and frequently travels to a brothel, where he meets the singer. He financially helps the courtesan Ah Mei to become a concubine. When the singer asks him if he would help her to leave the brothel, there is no answer. (3) "A Time for Youth": In 2005, in Taipei, the messy relationship of the photographer Zhen, his girlfriend Jing and a bisexual singer.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Interestingly enough, two elites of contemporary Chinese directors have presented their latest nostalgic works between 2004 and 2005. Compared to Wong Kar-wai's hybrid style and inscrutable cinematic codes in last year's 2046, Hou Hsiao Hsien's new masterpiece Three times in this year's Cannes is distinctly built on a three-episode structure and simply reminiscent of his chefs-d'oeuvre from his different golden ages.
The first episode "A time for love" is obviously associated with Hou's earlier works in 1980s. Set in Taiwan's snooker parlor in 1960s, a nostalgic aura infused with youthful vigor and adolescent impulse successfully recurred in Hou's stylish, experienced long-shots. The subtle relationship between the two main characters was getting clear with repetition of the Taiwanese old songs and western pops Smoke gets in your eyes, The Beatles' Rain and tears. This episode contains Director's real experiences and was rendered the most accessible of the three stories.
The second episode "A time for freedom" reminds me of his acclaimed classic Flower of Shanghai. Similar backgrounds, characters, chamber settings, fastidious costume designs refer to the identical tragic theme: Historically and emotionally lost. The surprise comes from the narration, which is dealt with in the form of silent movies. What struck me more is Shu Qi's weepy performance of those ancient elegies in an incomprehensible language.
The last episode "A time for youth" drew me back to the contemporary Taiwan in 2005. This episode is shockingly flooded with a variety of Generation-X's stuff such as e-mails, blog, cellar messages, trance music, digital camera, drugs, epilepsy etc., and also focused upon a group of aimless and hopeless younger animals, center of whom is a premature girl played by Shu Qi. Reminiscent of Millennium Mambo, also starring amazing Shu Qi as the key character, this story is loosely predicted on a girl whose relationship between her homosexual lover and a young male camera is morbidly and unapologetically intertwined. It's hard to conjecture why the director chose such an extraordinary story here as a representation of the contemporary society. Utilization of all kinds of most up-dated symbols has, however, proved his master touch in exactly presenting the loneliness, aimlessness and helplessness of the X-Generation living in the new century.
As the best actress in 2005's Golden Horse Award, Shu Qi's portrait of three women from different times is so convincing and laudable that she is totally competent for more difficult characters.
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