I first saw Millennium Mambo on my birthday at MIFF in 2002. As an admirer of all Hou’s films, it was a screening I was tremendously excited about. A couple of hours later, I was confused and left wondering what had happened to Hou’s distinctive film style of yesteryear? My first impression was thus one of resistance. Somehow, Mambo hadn’t met my expectations. It was like opening a present and finding something I didn’t like but putting on a gracious … (read more)
More accurately translated as ‘The Best of Times’, the latest picture from the most highly regarded formalist in world cinema is a delightfully structured and incredibly focused effort that breathes life into three very different moments in Taiwan’s past and present.
Three separate chapters bear the names of the broad topics that Hou pursues throughout the film: Love, Freedom and Youth. A lyrical romantic odyssey among smokey pool halls precedes a refined observation of national trauma as it is embodied … (read more)
Hou Hsaio-hsien’s Café Lumiere, his plaintive tribute to the incomparable Yasujiro Ozu, is certainly sure to piss off large sections of its audience. I had the curious experience of seeing it with quite a big audience at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and much of this crowd was comprised of people who were only there to ensure themselves good seats for the next session in that cinema: Kung Fu Hustle, introduced live by Stephen Chow himself. Needless to … (read more)