当爱来的时候 | When Love Comes

When Love Comes

Chang Tso-Chi’s wonderful new film – his most achieved since The Best of Times – is about the members of a family. They come from Kinmen Island, a dot in the sea just off the coast of mainland China which for many years bore the brunt of China’s enmity towards Taiwan, but have settled in the Taipei suburbs to run a modest restaurant. The family has secrets which don’t come out until one member dies (without giving too much away, we can say they have to do with maternity), but there are no great melodramatic revelations. Women dominate the family; the men are a seemingly henpecked husband, nicknamed Dark Face, an autistic uncle who hates the number ‘3’ and has a real talent for ‘naïve’ drawing, and a new grandson, born in unusual circumstances in the opening scene. The women range from a bossy matriarch to a teenager struggling with the realisation that she made the wrong choice of boyfriend. Chang stirs them all together in episodes which have the authentic rhythms of family life and none of the contrivances of soap opera. He observes them with the kind of comic warmth last seen in the films of Edward Yang.

Directed by Tso-chi Chang | Starring : Yijie Li, Yushun Lin, Zihua He, Xuefeng Lu, Meng-jie Gao | Presented at Pusan Film Festival, London Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival

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泪王子 | Prince of Tears

Prince of Tears

Largely based on Yonfan’s childhood memories, Prince of Tears is akin to a sumptuous fairy tale. Alternately magnified through the eyes of innocent children and darkened by the disturbed dreams of frightened, guilty adults, the realities of a little-known era are explored through Yonfan’s powerful vision. As in the best of fables, here too we have a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, a charming fairy and a mean ogre. Elegantly shot, the film weaves the characters and their stories together in a mysterious and lyrical fashion. Yonfan’s pristine touch as production designer seamlessly matches the vibrant light and colour of Chin Ting-chang’s cinematography. As a result, the film’s stunning look provides a stark contrast to the terror within the environment. As both an exquisite rhapsody of emotions and an intriguing historical account, Yonfan’s work is utterly unique. It charms, evokes and informs, perfectly capturing the confusion of adolescence, when the world is full of beauty one moment and immersed in darkness the next.

Directed by Yonfan | Starring : Hsiao-chuan Chang, Terri Kwan, Wing Fan, Kenneth Tsang, Jack Kao | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival

美丽时光 | The Best of Times

The Best of Times

Chang Tso-Chi’s film begins like a comedy about an extended family but turns into a reflection on the tragedy that befalls cousins Ah Wei and Ah Jie, a funny but troubled youth whose first job puts him in touch with a gun. Family patriarch, Ah Wei’s dad, is goaded by granny about gambling away the family’s money while Ah Jei’s father repetitively recounts his dishonorable discharge from the army decades earlier. The two men spend their evenings getting drunk, suggesting that Ah Wei and Ah Jei’s fates may have been better met young. Tragedy also befalls Ah Wei’s twin sister who suffers from leukemia, but Chang uses expressionistic, slightly comic allegory to end his film on an up note.

Directed by Tso-chi Chang | Starring : Wing Fan, Meng-jie Gao, Wan-mei Yu, Mao-ying Tien, Yu-Chih Wu | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival