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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Sunday, October 19, 2014
6:45 p.m. The Green, Green Grass of Home
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan, 1982)

(Zai na hepan qing cao qing). A key bridge between Hou’s first two commercial films and his later more personal works, The Green, Green Grass of Home finds the director working once again with Hong Kong crooner Kenny Bee, who here plays an idealistic teacher assigned to a remote rural village. Ostensibly at the helm of a romantic comedy, Hou steadfastly ignores the genre’s conventions and turns his attention from his leads to their pupils, a gaggle of distractingly cute children, and the serene beauty of the village surroundings. The film breezily floats by, warmed by a few conflicts—the kids unite to stop fishermen from dynamiting the river, the teacher courts a colleague, with predictable results—but what remains is not the plot, the romance, or the songs, but rather the essence of the place. From actors to amateurs, conventional script to naturalism, here Hou begins his escape from commercial cinema.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Hou. Photographed by Chen Kun-hou. With Kenny Bee, Chiang Ling, Chen Mei-feng, Gu Jun. (91 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, ‘Scope, 16mm)