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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Sunday, November 9, 2014
6:00 p.m. Daughter of the Nile
Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Taiwan, 1987)

(Niluohe nuer). A young woman and her brother float along the periphery of the Taipei underworld in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s intriguing blend of gangster tale and mood-drenched introspective drama, a fascinating and little-seen precursor to his Millennium Mambo and Goodbye South, Goodbye. Looking down on Taipei’s neon lights from her rural subdivision, the pretty Sao-Yang (pop star Yang Lin) spends her days caring for her little sister and grandfather, and heads into the city at night to gather with her club-owning brother and his cream-jacketed, shoulder-padded friends for drinks, dinners, and random flirtations. A gang war may be brewing, however, or maybe not; sudden shootouts and stylish karaoke nightclub sessions are interspersed with homework, crap jobs at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and listening to grandpa drone on about his lottery chances. (Grandpa is played by Li Tien-lu, a puppet master turned actor and later the subject and star of Hou’s The Puppetmaster). Hou continually abandons the movieland glamorization of youth culture, where everyone’s a gangster, a hero, an angel, or a whore, to instead focus on the mundane, ordinary realities of being young, stupid, and careless, and forever dreaming of something more.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Chu Tien-wen. Photograhed by Chen Huai-en. With Yang Lin, Jack Kao, Yang Fan, Li Tien-lu. (93 mins, In Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)