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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Friday, December 5, 2014
7:00 p.m. Millennium Mambo
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan/France, 2001)

(Qianxi Manbo). A Taipei youth culture of raves, techno music, and Ecstasy pills is distilled into trancelike luminescence in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s mesmeric Millennium Mambo, shot by In The Mood for Love’s acclaimed cameraman (and longtime Hou associate) Mark Lee Ping-bin. The glamorous Shu Qi pouts her way through the city’s neon nightclubs and hostess bars, accompanied either by her jealous DJ boyfriend or a much-older, somewhat wiser gangster figure (Jack Kao). Drugs, dancing, and love-making fuel the plot, as does our heroine’s search for a way out of the ever-shrinking circles she finds herself in. “Looking at the young friends around me, I find that their life cycle and rhythm move several times faster than in my generation,” notes Hou. “Like flowers, (they) fade almost immediately upon blooming.” With long takes and delirium-drenched close-ups that take their time to linger over colors, lights, and textures, Hou and Lee turn their look at contemporary youth into an abstract painting from the floating world, crystalizing and savoring beauty in every frame.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Chu Tien-wen. Photographed by Mark Lee Ping-bin. With Shu Qi, Jack Kao, Tuan Chun-hao, Chen I-hsuan. (119 mins, In Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)