Tag Archives: Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute

Hou Hsiao-hsien 17: Contexts 8 – The Rice Dumpling Vendors (Hsin Chi, 1969)

A discussion of Hsin Chi’s THE RICE DUMPLING VENDORS (1969), a rare male melodrama. The protagonist kicks his wife out of the house for perceived infidelity; as soon as he does the whole family falls apart and is plunged in a spiral of poverty, the father at one point abandoning his baby even as his two minor children take on jobs in order to buy milk. The film documents a society on the cusp of modernity and suffering the effects of the social and economic effects produced by it. Stylistically, the film is highly skilled and gorgeous to look at. Character’s thoughts are offered in voice-over or through song. There is a mix of genres: noir/action/family-melodrama/documentary. It’s a cinephile’s film, with references to PSYCHO (1960) and other films. The music borrows from CINDERELLA (1950) as well as then current pop-hits as Sinatra’s version of ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’. We also discuss the extent to which this film is an influence on Hou Hsiao-hsien’s THE SANDWICH MAN (1983). The more Hsin Chi films we see, the more we like and value them.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, this trailer will hopefully entice you to:

We were delighted to see Su Chu (The People’s Grandmother), Chin Tu (Veteran Thespian), and especially Chin Mei (Tragic Goddess).

The podcast may be listened below:

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

Paternal Melodrama:

Interesting choices regarding camera placement:

Imaginative Compositions:

Expressive imagery, beautifully lit:

 

Frames within frames:

Similarities to Hou Hsiao-hsien:

Some of you might also be interested in the following clips:

First song and aftermath:

Editing:

Psycho, editing, music:

 

Moral lessons through ending pop song:

 

Click to access The-Rice-Dumpling-Vendors.pdf

José Arroyo

 

Hou Hsiao-hsien 15: Contexts 6 – Foolish Bride Naive Bridegroom (Hsin Chi, 1967)

We continue our discussion of the films kindly made available in wonderful versions by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute. This time we discuss the second Hsin Chi film on view, FOOLISH BRIDE, NAIVE BRIDEGROOM, a wonderfully inventive screwball comedy displaying a wide array of cinematic devices for humorous effect (stop-motion, music, fluid camera), anchoring it in solid structure, set on the cusp of modernity, and wittily putting all the major decisions in the hands of the female protagonists. Great fun

 

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

Richard has recommended the TFAI trailer for it which gives a good taste of what the film is like, and also the captions perhaps indicate the elements which would surprise Taiwanese viewers

Some scenes referred to in the discussion may be seen below:

Bandages:

Camera move onto kiss:

Adaptation of pop songs – Besame Mucho:

Park Scene:

Song Interlude

 

Wedding/ documentary:

Some of you might also find this commentary from King’s College interesting and useful:

Click to access Foolish-Bride.pdf

 

José Arroyo

Hou Hsiao-hsien 14: Contexts 5 – The Bride Who Returned From Hell (Hsin Chi, 1965)

In this new podcast we discuss The Bride Who Returned From Hell, from a cycle of Hsin Chi films the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute is currently providing free on You Tube and in excellent restorations. The film is based on Victoria Holt’s Mistress of Mellin (1960). We discuss its debt to Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, The Innocents, the Bond films, melodrama and the Gothic. We talk about its formal inventiveness in its use of a rotating camera and split screen. We also explore how its interspersed with musical numbers that often take place amongst a recognisable landscape. It’s a Taiwanese film where one can’t help but note its transnational dimension. It’s a film we both liked and recommend.

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

Some images we refer to include:

The use of widescreen:

The centrality of the house (like Manderley)

Listeners might also find the following clips and interesting and useful:

This is the first song that establishes the centrality of the child and of the house (note the length of the last shot)

The experiment with the rotating camera:

Melodrama through use of music and acting:

American jazz (Gershwin?) as setting for love and murder:

Ghosts:

Song Interlude With Landscape:

Happy Family-to-be in Typical Landscape

Flashback:

Bond Music:

Musical finale in landscape

 

Richard has also provided the following links, which might be of interest:

-interesting overview of Hsin Chi’s career: https://taiyupian.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Xin-Qi.pdf

-Richard notes that the director’s name is sometimes anglicised as Xin Qi rather than Hsin Chi, I found more info by searching for Xin Qi.

-Article on “Bride …” which has the info on the producer’s daughter and the road trip to scout locations https://taiyupian.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/The-Bride-Who-Has-Returned-from-Hell.pdf

José Arroyo

Hou Hsia-Hsien 10: Contexts A – The Husband’s Secret/ Zhang fu de mi mi (Lin Tuan-qiu, Taiwan, 1960)

 

A treat. Part of a new series of mid-century Taiwanese films made available in wonderful restorations through the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute. We are discussing the film as a context for, as a way of better understanding the cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien. But we can’t help but discuss other elements that crop up: the career of Lin Tuan-qiu, the uses of melodrama, the extraordinary cinematography by Chen Cheng-fan and equally amazing lighting by Chen Tian-rong; we discuss how the film is a critique of patriarchy whilst also exploiting the visual aspects of women sinning; the films seems both visually sophisticated but also an example of what many will see as crude stereotypical melodrama, and fascinating for that. It’s a plot-laden film, full of twists, and totally engrossing. We discuss the uses of flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks; the voice-over elements by a narrator that seems omniscient and can’t quite be placed; we critique the choppiness of the editing whilst praising some of the on-location shooting. We see clear roots in theatre and theatrical forms of acting and delight in the uses of on-location shooting. A weird and fascinating combination of cine-literate sophistication with a kind of crudity of acting and mode which we highly recommend not only to those interested in Taiwanese Cinema but also those interested in melodrama. The podcast can be listened below:

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

 

Melodramatic Mode: I have captured images which lovers of melodrama will see as archetypal to the genre in terms of image, situation, dialogue, plot. It’s like a primer and worth looking through for the sub-titles alone:

 

We have also included the following clips that are referred to in the podcast:

Rape and Misfortune:

Pimping and Memory:

Memory of Bliss:

Melodramatic Revelations 1:

Melodramatic Revelations2:

Arrangements for the baby:

Baby 2 -Epilogue

In addition to the above:

Richard has found this wonderful link by By Ming-yeh & T. Rawnsley on ‘An Introduction to a Taiyupian Filmmaker, Lin Tuanqiu’: Lin-Tuanqiu-article

-This is the review he mentions in the podcast. 

-This one discusses the cinematography and also the Japanese and Western influences on the film

-Detailed article on Lin Tuan Qiu https://taiyupian.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Lin-Tuanqiu-article.pdf

-The overview Richard  mentions from the Taiwan Film Festival

…and we did find the names of the cinematographer and lighting designer (in the credits, duh!).

 

José Arroyo