Two old friends reunite after 13 years apart. Tan Weiqing (Terry Hu) was in love with the brother of Jia LI (Sylvia Chan) but the couple were forced to separate after he was forced into an arranged marriage with someone else. This ruined his life. Jia Li ran away to marry for love but ended up just as unhappy as her brother and her friend. Tan Weiqing lost herself in her work and became a famous concert pianist; the other started a successful business, but only after her husband disappeared, one day, at the beach. Did he die? Did he ran off to Japan after scamming millions from his work?.Could someone do that to someone they loved? Will Jia Li ever know? Does it matter? A poetic exegis on love, loss and happiness with a focus on women’s perspectives and experiences; a melodrama in art cinema mode, with gorgeous images beautifully shot by Christopher Doyle. Sylvia Chang is a luminous Jia LI, radiating strength, purpose, sadness and chic. Hou Hsiao-hsien appears as part of a gang of boisterous Wall Street types. The discussion may be listened to below:
A central film in the history of New Taiwanese Cinema. A portmanteu film, like The Sandwich Man, composed of films by four different directors :Dinosaur/ Little Dragon Head, d: Tao Te Chen; Expectations/ Desires, d: Edward Yang; Leapfrog, d: Ko I-chen; Say Your Name/ Show Your ID, d: Yi Chang. The films are structured in chronological order, each film set in a different decade from the 50s to the 80s.
In the podcast we discuss the figure of the Child in Taiwanese cinema, which seems to be a recurring pattern.
We’re thrilled by the extraordinary depiction of the female gaze in Edward Yang’s episode and the beautiful and complex way it’s visually conveyed. What Yang can do with a pan is quite extraordinary. You can get a flavour of this from the little trailer I made below:
We talk about how this new wave comes across as a ‘boy’s club’ and discuss the context of the last episode in relation to Sylvia Chang. We also wonder whether Sylvia Chang might be overlooked more by Western critics than Taiwanese ones and the effect that that might have on our perception and accounts of this cinema in the West and whether this is an effect of overvaluing auteurism at the expense of social and industrial contexts.
We note the use of music and discuss how those choices might have affected the international circulation of this film. We talk about the many common elements these short films have with Hou Hsiao-hsien’s early commercial work. After evaluating each of the works in some detail, we conclude by highly recommending the film.
A discussion of OUR TIME, OUR STORY, a more traditional documentary than FLOWERS OF TAIPEI but all the better for it. A film that offers various kinds of contexts (production, distribution, exhibition, reception), historicises well, finds extraordinary archival footage, interviews many of the leading people involved in Taiwan’s New Cinema and really enhances our knowledge of the period, the movement, and the films themselves. The film boasts many clips often in a lamentably degraded state but one that really make us appreciate the value of the new restorations . The video may be listened to below: