City of Sadness

   25 November 2009, terribly early in the morning

I watched City of Sadness last night at Cinematheque. This is the 20th anniversary of the film, and it looks like they are touring a new print of the movie from cinema to cinema. The film is set during the period of unrest in Taiwan during 1945 – 1949), when the Chinese nationalist government took over control of the island from the Japanese. Director Hou Hsiao-hsien examines this unrest by following the lives of an extended family: a family patriarch and his 4 sons — one of whom is missing for the entire movie. (The film stars Tony Leung as the deaf youngest brother in the family the film follows. As one would expect, he’s awesome in the film.) The story is slow. The arc the plot travels in is strange, and it’s hard to sort out how all the pieces relate. I suppose ultimately the film is about conflict, in particular between the Taiwanese and the Mainland Chinese. It’s a beautiful movie; depressing, but not as depressing as I thought it would be. I was reminded of the film Yi Yi, by Edward Yang, a contemporary of Hou Hsiao-hsien. The film is probably not for everyone, but I quite enjoyed it.

City of Sadness at Cinematheque

 

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