Jia-Li’s husband has disappeared. A clue at a beach suggests that he was drowned but no body was found. The film focusses not on the search for the husband, but on the reunion of Jia-Li and her brother’s ex-girlfriend, a successful pianist. The two women share insights on life and memories of growing up, and the struggle they face accepting or defying traditions in their romance and marriage. The film’s deliberation on changes in Taiwanese society and family, its mood of contemplation and reflection, went well beyond the melancholic tone of traditional Taiwanese films about women.
Fred Tan’s Split of the Spirit is a macabre tale of supernatural possession, necromantic battles, and the vengeful phantom of a woman scorned. In Tan’s stylish neo-noir thriller, a renowned female choreographer becomes overtaken by the specter of a murdered woman, who forces her to enact revenge upon the men who have wronged her.
Arriving in Taiwan in the 1950s, Kuei-mei makes a disadvantageous marriage to a widower with three unruly kids and a bad gambling habit. Beautifully portrayed by celebrated actress Yang, she weathers pregnancies, her husband’s infidelity, her daughter’s resentment, a stint as servant in Japan, divorce, and illness while struggling to keep the family restaurant business afloat.
A group of aimless Taipei residents deal with their personal problems in this Taiwanese drama that does feature brief flashes of black humor. Much of the story centers upon lonely Mrs. Chen who has trouble coping with her philandering husband, and nearly senile mother-in-law.
The pop-star leads from Hou’s first feature, Cute Girl, are reunited in the director’s follow-up, a brisk work of bubble-gum romance that begins to experiment with the rules of the genre. This time, Taiwanese singing sensation Feng Fei-fei plays Hsing-hui, a trendy photographer visiting a seaside village in Penghu with her successful boss/fiancé. When she happens upon a flute-playing medic blinded in an ambulance crash (Kenny Bee), sparks fly, songs are sung, and she’s left with the tough decision of who to say “I do” to. Despite the eye-rolling premise, Hou infuses the film with enough formal ingenuity (long takes, telephoto lenses, on-location shooting) that a case can be made for its auteurial significance.
Soon after Japan relinquishes control of Taiwan in 1945, the Lin brothers face hardships from the changing culture. Bar owner Wen-heung, the eldest brother, falls foul of local gangsters, Wen-sun disappears, and Wen-leung, scarred by his experiences in the war, ends up in an insane asylum. Deaf-mute photographer Wen-ching, the youngest brother, decides to make a stand and fight the Kuomintang government from China that is assuming power.
The film that kickstarted the New Taiwanese Cinema movement, ‘In Our Time’ is a rebellious ode to youth in four vignettes of ’80s teenage life. The film includes a rare, never-seen-before piece from the late Edward Yang (‘Yi Yi,’ ‘A Brighter Summer Day’).
A family in rural Taiwan starts to break up when the son’s young wife dies giving birth to her second child. The son Kun-Cheng leaves home and drifts into another sexual relationship, but tries to be a good father to his kids and a tolerant, filial son to his parents, both of whom irritate the hell out of him.