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 »
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,
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 »
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 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 »
(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
My girlfriend is always complaining that I rent gory, hateful Italian horror movies like 'Strip Naked For Your Killer' and 'Cannibal Holocaust', so I figured I'd switch it up and introduce her to the wild world of Hou. I should have stuck with 'Strip Naked...'! She complained the entire time that the film was too slow, that the characters were too vague and the whole thing, well, 'sucked'.
In my opinion, this was a graceful, magnificent film, but it is, what I like to call a 'Phantom Masterpiece' that is, a film which culminates a director's many obsessions, but doesn't really have that special punch that makes masterwork status unequivocal. I felt 'In the Mood For Love' by Wong Kar-Wai was a similar disappointment when compared to his 'true' masterpieces 'Happy Together', 'Chungking Express' and 'Fallen Angels'.
So, while you're right to expect a lot from this movie, don't expect a 'Flowers of Shanghai'.
Regardless, I found this film very fascinating, and one viewer's comment on IMDb about the film as a meta film is interesting, especially when you consider that framing shots of different actors in different times and places are virtually identical sequence to sequence. For instance, when a woman opens a letter, she's shot from exactly the same vantage point every time, regardless of the origins of the letter or herself. Its just too idiosyncratic to not be meaningful.
Also, a lot of this film is playfully back lit as characters are reduced almost to shadows for much of the action, however, as they move through the frame, light finds them and its really quite incredible.
If you are a true film fan, or a fan or Ozu, Haneke, Bresson, or Antonioni, you'll love this.
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