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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Friday, November 7, 2014
7:00 p.m. Dust in the Wind
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan, 1986)

(Lien lien feng chen). In Hou's films exile, like death, can draw a family together as it casts them asunder. Dust in the Wind is the story of two young people who quit school and move from their mountain village to Taipei to find jobs. They expect to marry, but typical of Hou's tender distance, we never see them being lovers; we see them being young, and vulnerable, and extremely delicate. He finds work with a printer, she as a seamstress, but neither finds happiness or heart in Taipei. (Charmingly, she has brought along outline drawings of the feet of family members to buy them shoes.) Deep-focus views build a portrait of youth quietly adrift; in the long shots of the long journey to their green-hilled home, Hou's steady gaze speaks to all that they can no longer take for granted. In a caring society, where even strangers look after one another, that these two youngsters must lose each other seems even more profound a loss. And less. Grandpa says, "It's fate, you can't change it." Just so. 

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Wu Nien-jen, Chu Tien-wen. Photographed by Mark Lee Ping-bin. With Hsin Shu-fen, Wang Ching-wen, Li Tien-lu. (110 mins, In Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)