A mysterious red balloon affectionately follows seven-year-old Simon around Paris. His mother Suzanne is a puppeteer who uses her vocal talents to bring life to the shows she writes. Completely absorbed in her new show, Suzanne becomes overwhelmed by the complications of modern daily life. She decides to hire Song Fang, a Taiwanese film student, to help her care for Simon. —IFC Films
Director Hou Hsiao Hsien, in a 1988 New York Film Festival World Critics Poll, was voted one of three directors who would most likely shape cinema in the coming decades. He has since become one of the most respected, influential directors working in cinema today. In spite of his international renown, his films have focused exclusively on his native Taiwan, offering finely textured human dramas that deal with the subtleties of family relationships against the backdrop of the island’s turbulent, often bloody history. All of his movies deal in some manner with questions of personal and national identity, particularly, “What does it mean to be Taiwanese?” In a country that has been colonized first by the Japanese and then by Chiang Kai-Shek’s repressive Nationalist Government, this question is pregnant with political connotations.
Hou was born to a member of the Hakka ethnic minority in southern Guangdong province in mainland China, but his parents emigrated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan… read more
The transplant of Lamorisse’s concept into modern Paris, with the sporadic sight of a sentient balloon hovering above it, seems only whimsical for its displacement of the original’s dainty charm, as with the thematic expediency of Fang Song’s expatriate or the Puppetmaster nods in Binoche’s character. That this was the first of Hou’s films to be demoted at Cannes since that one may be telling, being his most frivolous work in the period since; What Time Is it There? this isn’t. On the upside, his naturalist photography has rarely been more crisply sedate.
Every Hou film poses a mystery: the viewer is always questioning linearity, character, actions, connections between scenes and between elements of the film. Here, it goes further: an aura, a mood, a way of seeing things, it escapes us, like the ever moving red balloon. It grows vigorously in this path of Hou, where a certain gaze can make film -therefore, life- even more full of possibilities.
In our annual poll, we pair our favorite new films of 2011 with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.
A film festival isn't just a way to see movies; it is, inevitably, a film festival. If you show a hundred or so features, even if they're
Each of the Notebook's writers were given the opportunity to submit their ten favorite films of 2008 given at least a week's theatrical run
Each of the Notebook's writers were given the opportunity to submit two lists of their ten favorite films of 2008. One is restricted to films
I understand why a lot of people dislike Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films but there is something about his style that gravitates me. I find his movies deeply moving even though he does not manipulate the audience… read review
Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien pays tribute to Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic short “The Red Balloon” with this loose adaptation, about a harried single mother (Juliette Binoche) whose lonely young… read review