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.
With around 10,000 descendants packing the ancestral shrine every Tomb Sweeping Day, the Yeh family’s grand affair made a bid for the Guiness Book of World Records in 2016. They won’t be coming even close on Saturday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, less than 30 people will be attending and conducting the rituals. “We hope that our ancestors don’t take offense,” branch association head Yeh Lun-tsai (葉倫在) tells the Liberty Times (sister paper of the Taipei Times). Tomb Sweeping Day activities can potentially aggravate the spread of the virus as large groups congregate in cemeteries and columbariums at the same
In terms of life expectancy for its citizens, in recent decades Taiwan has caught up with and overtaken a number of Western countries. According to the most recent edition of the CIA’s World Factbook, Taiwanese now live longer than Americans, Czechs and Poles. Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may shake up the rankings. Taiwan’s single-payer healthcare system, set up in 1995, is one reason why people here can stay healthy for a long time. Before the postwar Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime introduced the piecemeal health-insurance schemes (covering government employees, farmers, and others) that preceded the universal system, sick people
Nowhere are the effects of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) postwar Sinification campaign more visible than in the toponymic revisions that the regime undertook after assuming power. Taipei’s streets were renamed after Chinese cities or quintessentially Chinese values, and with the kind of self-aggrandizing flourish to which the party was partial, the process even referenced itself, Guangfu (光復) — which translates as “retrocession” — becoming a mainstay of urban nomenclature. Above all, the KMT’s top brass was memorialized: the given names of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) — Zhongshan (中山) and Zhongzheng (中正) — were conferred on locations
April 6 to April 12 Han Chinese settlers from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou were such fierce rivals that simple activities such as buying supplies for festivals would often result in armed violence. It’s said that this was especially severe just before Tomb Sweeping Festival, and to prevent bloodshed Qing Dynasty officials ordered them to conduct their rituals on different days. This is not unlike the government urging people to visit their ancestors’ graves on days other than yesterday’s official Tomb Sweeping Day, also known as the Qingming Festival, to curb the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Chinese Nationalist Party