有时跳舞 | The Island Tales

The Island Tales

A group of disparate characters find themselves trapped overnight on a island somewhere off the coast of mainland China. The circumstances force them to overlook their preconceptions of one another, and they forge a kinship that goes to the heart their identities.

Directed by Stanley Kwan | Starring : Michelle Reis, Qi Shu, Elaine Jin, Kaori Momoi, Julian Cheung | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival

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海上花 | Flowers of Shanghai

Flowers of Shanghai

After a long line of films interrogating Taiwan’s past and present, Hou Hsiao-hsien turned to 19th-century China, adapting Han Bangqing’s late Qing novel on the upscale brothels of Shanghai’s foreign concessions. Denied permission to shoot in the city itself, Hou made his film entirely in a studio — befitting the cloistered, microcosmic world of the courtesans and their patrons — and reduced the novel’s sprawling cast to a handful of central characters. Cantonese civil servant Wang has hit a rough patch with long-term companion Crimson and looks to her younger rival Laelia; haughty Emerald (Michelle Reis) connives with Luo to buy out her contract; and up-and-coming Jade resists experienced elder courtesan Pearl, and has a liason with the naive Zhu Shuren. These relationships — governed by strict codes of money and power — are conveyed in appropriately sensual yet rigorous style: carefully choreographed camerawork by Lee Ping-bin, a minimal editing scheme (37 shots, each bracketed by fades), and haunting leitmotifs from composer Hanno Yoshihiro.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Carina Lau, Michelle Reis, Hada Michiko, Jack Kao | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Taipei Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

堕落天使 | Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels

Originally intended to be a third story in his now classic Chungking Express, Fallen Angels has emerged as what some critics have come to consider his “quintessential work.” Set in the neon-washed underworld of present day Hong Kong, Fallen Angels intertwines two exhilarating tales of love and isolation. First, there’s the unconsummated love affair between a contract Killer and the ravishing female Agent who books his assignments and cleans up after his jobs. When the Killer decides that he must move on, he leaves her with only a coin for the jukebox and instructions to play song number 1818. Ex-convict Ho stopped speaking at the age of five after eating a date-expired can of pineapple. He lives with his father, who runs a guesthouse where the Agent is in semi-permanent residence. Ho makes a living by re-opening shops that have been closed fort he night and intimidating customers into buying goods and services from him. After an awkward romance with a girl named Cherry, Ho finds himself all the more alone… Wong Kar-Wai brings these parallel storylines together in a blitz of ultra-hip style and classic cinematic sensibilities. A poet of modern alienation, Kar-Wai’s universe is populated with characters both dark and comic, magical and existential, Fallen Angels is both a vie at revolutionary cinema and an homage to a love for movies.

Directed by Kar Wai Wong | Starring : Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Charlie Yeung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Karen Mok | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival