Two Taiwan-made films directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien and the late Edward Yang were included among the 25 best of the 21st century in a list published June 9 by The New York Times.
Hou’s “Three Times” from 2005 ranked 17th, while Yang’s “Yi Yi” from 2000 finished sixth in the selection compiled by the daily’s film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, as well as leading industry figures such as Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Barry Jenkins and Richard Linklater.
Set in three different time periods, “Three Times” is a slow-burner documenting the trials and tribulations of bar singer May and her photographer Chen as they fall in love. The relationship between May and Chen, played by Shu Qi and Chen Chang, respectively, delicately develops against an emotive score dominated by piano music and traditional Chinese vocals.
Scott, who describes Hou’s films as “visually gorgeous and emotionally subtle,” views “Three Times” as typical of the director’s body of work in that it explores Chinese history and contemporary life with wit, curiosity and formal rigor.
Echoing these sentiments, U.S. director Barry Jenkins said “Three Times” inspired his Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight,” which came in 20th on the list. Hou’s treatment of roiling emotions, as well as the interiority translated through external imagery and sound rather than with an interior monologue, helped make his 2016 drama the movie it is today, he added.
Yang’s “Yi Yi,” considered his magnum opus, tells the story of a modern Taipei family with a narrative shifting between the patriarch, his teenage daughter and young son. The film premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where Yang received the award for best director.
Scott said “Yi Yi” has the heft and density of a great novel. It resonates as a full experience instead of a simple viewing, like the audience is a neighbor of the family watching an enthralling three-hour chronicle unfold, he added.
Along with directors like Hou, who is revered among filmmakers and critics worldwide, Yang was one of the principal figures in new Taiwan cinema of the 1990s, Scott said.
New Taiwan cinema, which rose to prominence between 1982 and 1990, featured films focusing on immediate and real-life issues. It also tended to serve as a record of society and played a similar role to documentaries.
Source: Taiwan Today (http://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=18&post=116868)