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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Sunday, December 14, 2014
6:00 p.m. Flight of the Red Balloon
Hou Hsiao-hsien (France/Taiwan, 2008)

(Le voyage du ballon rouge). Hou Hsiao-hsien abandons his usual Taiwanese settings for a modern-day look at the City of Light in this lovely, ephemeral, and at times experimental update of the classic 1959 French children’s short The Red Balloon. Hou continues the obsessions of his Café Lumière, tracking the rhythms of life—and the rhythms of light—in the contemporary world to beautiful, dazzling effect. Juliette Binoche is Suzanne, a harried single mom whose job leaves little time for her son, Simon. The arrival of Taiwanese film student Song as a nanny helps ease the stress, especially after Suzanne’s noisy neighbors and absent ex-husband begin to make increasingly difficult demands. At times the film is as entranced by the reflection of light—off buses, through windows, from skylights—as it is by its Ozu-esque “central” topic, the everyday life of the modern family.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Hou, François Margolin, inspired by The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. Photographed by Mark Lee Ping-bin. With Juliette Binoche, Song Fang, Simon Iteanu, Hippolyte Girardot. (115 mins, In French and Mandarin with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)