A CITY OF SADNESS (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989)

Winner of the top prize at Venice, the Golden Lion of St. Mark, Bei qing cheng shi is one of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s most important and most highly regarded films without being a particular favorite of mine. The screenplay by Chu T’ien-wen and Wu Nien-Jen details more plot than Hou’s lyrical and realistic gifts can handle, […]

FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2007)

Seven-year-old Simon’s communion with it, and his attempt to get a tiny grip on it, precede a red balloon’s ascension to the Paris skies. Thereafter, at liberty, it becomes a floating cherry moon possibly safeguarding the child, passing by windows and punctuating his childhood with its gracious presence. Simon does not see it, although his […]

GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1996)

Taiwan’s rudderless young underclass is epitomized by two low-level criminals—their criminality eventually gets politically connected upwards—and the girlfriend of one of them. These are Kao (played by Jack Kao, who with King Jieh-Wen wrote the story that Chu T’ien-wen turned into a brilliant script), Flathead and Pretzel. In the opening shot they are onboard a […]