Hou Hsiao-Hsien

FNC 2015: ‘The Assassin’ is a slow-burning feast for the eyes

Those coming to The Assassin, the new wuxia from Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien (winner of the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), expecting an all-out action martial arts fest are in for a bit of a rude surprise. There certainly is action, and it carries considerable weight in the story. But rather than glorify the violence, the weight serves to magnify its importance and emphasize its effect upon those involved.

BFI 59th London Film Festival – Top Picks for 2015

Next month sees the return of one of the UK’s most prolific film festival, The London Film Festival (LFF). Taking place between 7 and 18 October, the festival will show over 230 films in more than 16 venues over the capital.

‘A City of Sadness’ is a landmark film in the Taiwanese New Wave

Hou Hsiao-Hsien made this film after directing nine features in Taiwan and was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the 1989 Venice Film Festival. A City of Sadness was written by two key screenwriters from the Taiwanese New Wave: Chu Tien-wen and Wu Nien-Ju, both of whom worked with Hou and Edward Yang (the other great director from this film movement) before and after A City of Sadness. The first film of a trilogy by Hou that would deal with Taiwan’s tragic past (followed by The Puppetmaster (1993) and Good Men, Good Women (1995)), A City of Sadness does the seemingly impossible task of distilling an unrepresentable experience into the fate of one family struggling to make sense of their situation following WWII.

Learning Hou Part 2: ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’

Having started with Goodbye South, Goodbye, we go backwards in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s career to one of his earliest films, The Green, Green Grass of Home. This particular film is the last in a trilogy of commercial-minded vehicles for pop star Kenny Bee that also included Cute Girl and Cheerful Wind. Bee got his start in Hong Kong as a part of a pop group called The Wynners and when that group split Bee made his way to Taiwan to make a go at acting. This won’t be the last time Hou works with a musician as an actor. Lim Giong was in multiple films including Goodbye South, Goodbye (for which he also did music for the soundtrack), and popstar Lin Yang made her debut in Daughter of the Nile, which I’ll be discussing in the future.

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