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最好的時光 (2005)
Three Times

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 07/09/2006
Summary: Slow But Boring

This must be art because it's not entertaining at all. It's like driving from Taipei to Hua-lien in first gear: there's some beautiful scenery along the way, but it takes forever, you wish it could speed up, and when your trip is over you're nowhere.

I like Hsu Chi and I think she's a good actress, but I think an unknown might have been better in these roles as, even though she was believeable in three very different roles, I was always seeing Hsu Chi playing the pool girl, Hsu Chi playing the courtesan, Hsu Chi playing the singer. That's probably my fault for watching her performance to see why she won best actress for it instead of just watching it; she was always under my microscope. If you watch this film, don't make my mistake because you might not be able to sit through it a second time.

Cultural note: girls were hired to work in pool halls to keep score, sometimes play, and generally just be eye candy. It was considered a very low class position, but they were not prostitutes. Kind of like the betal nut girls in present day Taiwan.

This one's for the arthouse crowd only. I "got" the second piece, with the guy who cares deeply and passionately about freedom on a societal level but is blind to the needs of his lover, but the other two segments were like watching someone else's home movies. If there was meaning there, it seemed to be only for the guy with the camera.

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 05/23/2006
Summary: she's once... twice...

the new film from the much lauded tiawanese director hou hsiao-hsien is a trio of love stories; all starring shu qi (who won a 'best actress' golden horse for this role) and chang chen.

'a time for love' - 1966 - inspired by hou's own memories of playing pool, listening to the radio playing 'smoke gets in your eyes' by the platters. may begins working at a pool hall and finds a letter, left by chen as he went to undertake military service for the previous attendant, haruko. one day chen returns, looking for haruko, but he finds may in her place and the two bond over a few games of snooker, before chen returns to the military. the next time chen returns, may has moved on, but chen sets off to find her...

'a time for freedom' - 1911, during the japanese occupation - probably my favourite segment. a solemn story of the relationship between a courtesan and mr chang; a man who is wholly devoted and passionate about achieving freedom for his country, but unable to express his emotions for the courtesan whom he loves. the story is presented as a silent film, punctuated by intertitles with a soundtrack of traditional chinese song and classical piano pieces. simply beautiful.

'a time for youth' - 2005 - contemporary taipei, chen is a photographer, who is having an affair with jing. jing is a singer in a band, she is an epileptic, a tortured soul and her lover is being driven to despair as she has her suspicions about jings unfaithfulness...

this is a very good film, the three segments are very different in their feel, but they complement each other nicely. huo and his collaborators; chu tien-wen (writer), mark lee (cinematographer), hwang wen-ying (production designer) and do duk-ji (sound designer), make this a beautiful film to experience. shu qi and chang chen are fantastic in all three of their roles.

very good...