A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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THREE TIMES
2005 - Hou Hsiao-hsien - Taiwan / France
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Three Times is a masterpiece of filmmaking and I believe rates among Hou Hsiao-hsien's very greatest cinematic achievements. In many ways, Three Times is like a collection of Hou's previous work. The film is structured as three unlinking stories featuring the same two actors (Chang Chen and the lovely Shu Qi) during three different time periods of Taiwan (1966, 1911, 2005). Each segment is not connected in terms of narrative, but each share similar linking themes of romantic relationships. Each segment stands brilliant and as a whole the film is a masterwork, but to me it is the first segment ("A Time for Love"- 1966) that is truly brilliant. Through simplistic and minimal techniques, Hou recalls his early work of young love and everyday living. There is also a sense of nostalgia, longing and atmosphere that transcend the film into one of feeling and is undeniably reminiscent of Wong Kar Wai's romantic longing. The second segment ("A Time for Freedom"- 1911) is presented as a silent film (moody music, titles cards and all!) and very much recalls Hou's 1998 film Flowers of Shanghai in that it takes place within a brothel. This is a daring and effective approach by Hou, who respectfully isn't attempting to remake a silent film, but rather uses the emotional power silent cinema creates. The claustrophobic visuals and sexual and political themes also recall Hou's earlier film. The final segment ("A Time for Youth"- 2005) captures a combination of Hou's Goodbye South, Goodbye (including the motorcycle rides through the city) and Millennium Mambo (including the endless smoking from Shu Qi) in examining the disconnected and alienated modern day youth. Through un-communicating relationships and loneliness, Hou is essentially detailing a poetic view of modern-day Taiwan in contrast to a time that is lost and needs to be held onto. Three Times is an important film from a very important filmmaker. Hou has created a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that examinations important issues of Taiwan and it's history, as well as human relationships and connection (or disconnection). The film is also a political one as the disconnecting relationships is very reflective of the historical relationship between mainland China and Taiwan. Three Times is a film to cherish, to revisit, and to remember.
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