This movie gives us a glimpse at life in northern Taiwan. The main person is Kao, a 37-years-old man who has constantly to solve problems created by his younger brother Flat Head and his girlfriend Pretzel. As a non-stop schemer, Kao devises a plan to raise money by trading subsidized pigs to the government for cash. The ruse works, but when the temperamental Flat Head antagonizes the wrong people, the two find themselves caught up in a dangerous game of corrupt politics. –Trigon Film
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
This film really consists of a collection of beautifully observed everyday moments, devoting its focus to what was going on at that particular point in time. However, When the moments are put together they paint a lugubrious portrait of a good man living in the wrong place at the wrong time. So painful yet so beautiful, so typical of Hou.
Just rewatched this, having seen Dust in the Wind earlier in the day. That film made me think of this one, which I saw first over a year ago. But I was right--similar themes, and the shot of the train coming out of the tunnel is the exact same shot ten years later. I could watch his films back to back on a loop for the rest of my life.