10 - I would have to rewatch "The Terrorizers" (a gorgeous, magnificent film that is fully deserving of a 4K restoration *hinthint*) again to be sure I prefer this, though my doing so or not has no impact on this monolith's status. Yang created a warm synecdoche for an entire nation's identity crisis out of that nation's own flesh and blood, and he just let it play out in long, dazzling, yet somehow discreet takes.
A Brighter Summer Day is a film of a unique formal complexity - that becomes simplicity - and of such graceful detail and structure. With this film, Edward Yang crafted a genuine, pure masterpiece about a time, a country and its politics, about Taiwanese people, about family bonds and about a certain generation. And yet it is "just" a brutal coming-of-age tale, about Si'r's search for integrity and first love.
A sprawling epic that examines the adolescent search for belonging in a society with its own fractured and evolving identity. Edward Yang has an incredible ability to capture multiple people in the same frame, as if to breathe depth and collective agency into the characters' delinquency and emotions. Cat is my favorite.
Finally! A while ago, I decided that as a pet project, I'd watch every film on the Sight & Sound top 100. I chipped away for years—then the bastards bumped this rarity to a top slot in 2012 and I had to languish at 99% waiting for someone to release it. But now I'm done! And the film? A masterpiece, very Renoir, just what we need in an era with bombastic franchises at one end and anhedonic slow cinema at the other.
A sprawling yet claustrophobic melodrama about crimes of passion and the doldrums of inertia in early 1960s Taiwan, A Brighter Summer Day brilliantly captures the pathetic fallacy in a net of enchanting chiaroscuro, pinning the personal to the political with winning, if heartbreaking, precision. It's also funny, tender, and Elvis-oriented.
Obviously a total cinema hydra. This is a preeminent example of a filmmaker investing all of himself into a vision. Edward Yang deserves a throne and a scepter. What are we to compare it to? It is thoroughly Taiwanese and of a very specific historical moment (the one in which it was made, and the one it captures). However, that it name-drops War and Peace is telling. Think Tolstoy meets Mean Streets. In Taiwan.
Let's consider technique, the overpowering weight of light & darkness, the distanced, enigmatic way Yang frames/conveys each & every scene of his film. The novelistic narrative scope is indeed majestic, but there is a slow accumulation of detail from Yang's long-take staging that's thoroughly prodigious. He honors the mystery of the human character & its drearisome ties to political & socioeconomic circumstances.