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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
7:00 p.m. Cheerful Wind
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan, 1981)

(Feng’er tita cai, a.k.a. Play While You Play). Hou Hsiao-hsien’s second film continues in the star-driven romance genre popular in Taiwan, but finds the director slowly beginning to assert his own style. Hong Kong singer Kenny Bee and Taiwanese pop diva Feng Fei-fei return from Hou’s debut Cute Girl, this time as a blind man and a married photographer who falls for him amid an assortment of the island’s more scenic locales (many of which Hou revisits in later films). Doe-eyed romancing and tuneful pop crooning follow, yet Hou finds the time to experiment within the genre’s framework, adding touches—a focus on children and nonactors, an attention to the natural world, a concern for the rural/urban divide—that would blossom in his later works. “I asked you to write slogans, not paint on walls,” notes a stern headmistress to Feng’s character; Cheerful Wind is Hou learning to write the slogans, while coloring in his own portraits. Soon, the slogans would be gone entirely.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Hou. Photographed by Chen Kun-hou. With Kenny Bee, Feng Fei-fei, Anthony Chan, Mei Fang. (90 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, 'Scope, 35mm)