Monday, December 06, 2004

Chinese Cinema

: "Mr. Wong's influence has reached around the world, inspiring imitators from Sofia Coppola to Lou Ye, the Shanghai-born director of the visually lush 'Suzhou River' and 'Purple Butterfly.' Even the brilliant Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien seemed to temporarily fall under Mr. Wong's spell a few years ago when he made 'Millennium Mambo,' about an emotionally adrift young woman. The Wong influence could be detected in that film's techno beats and slow-motion interludes, along with the desultory allure of the star, Shu Qi, a Taiwanese actress who started out by making soft-core movies. Like his fellow Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang ('What Time Is It There?'), Mr. Hou strips the veneer off of beauty, something he does to devastating effect in 'Flowers of Shanghai,' a masterpiece about a late 19th-century brothel. "

An excellent overview of contemporary Chinese cinema today in the New York Times. One of my great regrets is that the international copies (with English subtitles) are so difficult to get hold of here in Taiwan. I am getting convinced that it is worth the effort, however. Most of these art films are government subsidized, and spottily supported by the Taiwanese public, which is a shame. There is talk that the government may be switching their support to computer animation films, as well, which would be dire for Taiwanese art films. Follow the links on directors like Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang and, like me, you can give yourself a pretty good primer from the Times's archives.