Lee Hsing Retrospective
Veteran award-winning director Lee Hsing
(李行), who is 80 this year, is being honored by the Chinese Taipei Film Archive with screenings of 12 of his most notable films until Tuesday next week at the Spot theater in Taipei; many have English subtitles. Other films are being screened at the archive, together with a symposium. Further details are at www.ctfa.org.tw and
Festival of City Tours 2009: The Wedding Season
This cumbersome festival title brings together a number of intriguing wedding-related films from around the world that deserve wider attention. Brides is a Martin Scorsese production set in the 1920s in which hundreds of European mail-order brides head to the US to discover their fate. Tulpan, set in Kazakhstan, is the name of a would-be bride of the protagonist; the film has astonished reviewers everywhere with its texture and sense of whimsy. Silent Wedding, from Russia, is a humorous account of a wedding that takes place on the sly during an enforced mourning period for an autocrat. Algeria-set Masquerades is a comedy of errors and misunderstandings, while Vacation from Japan mixes marital longing with the ugly reality of capital punishment. The films are screening exclusively at Taipei’s Changchun theater until Aug. 6
All Around Us
A Japanese film that prefers idiosyncrasy to histrionics in developing its characters? This might be worth seeing. A husband and wife come under the microscope in this feature, but the threat to their relationship is far removed from what the average melodrama contains, with the possible exception of the fate of their offspring. Mixed reviews followed, as might be expected for a film that violates narrative conventions, but there has been praise from all corners for lead actor Lily Franky (an eclectic artist and author in real life) as the husband.
The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner
Variety considered “theatrical release outside the Balkans is unlikely” for this film mostly out of Bulgaria, but no one should underestimate the tenacity of Taiwan’s smaller distributors, who rely on obscure European product as much as the Japanese and Thai stuff. A man loses his memory in a car accident that kills his parents, so his grandfather shows up to take him on a two-wheeled road trip back to Bulgaria as therapy — the same place the young man’s parents fled when it was a repressive regime. With bicycles all the rage now, this amiable movie couldn’t be better timed for release here.
The Sniper (神槍手)
Lots of blood is spilled in this Hong Kong action flick, but the biggest victim was the film itself, which was shelved after star Edison Chen (陳冠希) got embroiled in the starlet home movie scandal. For some reason, this tale of hotshot professional snipers has taken even longer to get released in Taiwan, which was fascinated — but not scandalized — by Chen’s digital romps. Dante Lam’s (林超賢) film of style but little substance brings to mind the halcyon days of John Woo (吳宇森): excellent action set pieces but emotional holes as big as exit wounds.
Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser
Body-of-a-child, mind-of-an-adult sleuth Conan is back for the 13th Case Closed manga feature, this time in more peril than usual as the organization responsible for his bodily predicament, the Black Organization, returns to wreak havoc, culminating in a violent showdown.
Gao Xing (高興)
This is an unusual film from China, based on the book by the celebrated Jia Pingwa (賈平凹). Gao Xing is a jolly fellow from the country who wants to fly — and sets out to build his own aircraft to that end. Along the way there are songs to be sung and dance moves to be made in this lightly satirical musical comedy. Starts tomorrow.
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and