An omnibus of four short films by four Taiwanese directors said to have ushered in the Taiwanese New Wave, In Our Time marks what would be my introduction to an Edward Yang film, being the second segment in this lineup. With the works of others responsible for this new era in Taiwan cinema, I now add a few more directors to my ever burgeoning list of must-watch movies, and to no surprise, I actually found the segment Say Your Name by Chang Yi to be my favourite of the lot, starring Sylvia Chang (a filmmaker in her own right these days) as one half of a couple in a madcap comedy, which happened to be of the shortest running time of the lot.
Put together, these films each represent a decade from the 50s to the 80s, and naturally presents a snapshot view of the lives and times of the Taiwanese. Tao Teh Chen tackles the first with Little Dragon Head, a story about a young boy and his favourite Dragon (looks like Godzilla though) toy, which in some ways serve as his silent confidante, or a security blanket so to speak. It's actually a childhood story about school and family woes as experienced by the boy, and contains a sweet little romance between him and the little girl of an aunt, whom the boy's family visits quite frequently, and from adversity blossoms firm friendship.
Expectation was next to be presented, directed by our retrospect's auteur, and tells a family tale of a girl, her older sister and their widowed mom. Her friend is a younger nerdy boy whom she teachers how to bike as a subplot, but the main crux centers on the girl's blossoming sexual awakening when a handsome teenager rents a room in their home, and how her sister gets a leg up through her more direct approach. No, there's nothing visually raunchy, and it's all kept within PG limits, but we do get to see how Edward Yang tackles youth and women in films, and the many themes and ideas squeezed into this short.
The stories depart from the more pensive mood to get more comical after that, with Ko I-Chen's The Jumping Frog starring Li Kuo-Hsiu as the lead protagonist nicknamed "Fatty" though in reality he's anything but. His lack of social skills especially with the opposite sex give rise to laughs, and his character provides plenty of voice overs to tell of his inner thoughts and to move the story forward. Keep a look out for that scene involving his stint as a driver, and his commentary on how bossy his women clientele can be! And rounding up the series is Say Your Name by Zhang Yi, the shortest film in the line up that is what comedies are made of, with the zany misadventures of a man wrapped in only his towel, being found to be locked outside his apartment, giving rise to many comical situations especially of being mistaken for a thief when he tries to plot his reentry into his own home.
If you're game to watch additional films from this Taiwanese maestro, then you will surely want to take note of screening and ticketing details that I included below. Do note that both screenings to A Bright Summer Day have been sold out, so do not hesitate to watch the others lest they get sold out too!
The National Museum is now presenting a Retrospective of Edward Yang (November 6, 1947 – June 29, 2007), one of Taiwan's leading filmmakers in its New Wave, probably best known for his film Yi Yi (2000) which got him the Best Director Award at Cannes.
It's a complete retrospective that will offer an insight into his life through roundtable sessions with his former collaborators, friends and academics. and you can find the full details of the screening over at this link, which contains a profile of specially invited guests, film titles, screening details, and a list of the free admission programmes.
Here's a quick summary:
In His Time: The Films of Edward Yang
A Programme of the National Museum Cinémathèque
Day/Date: Wednesday, 2 March – Sunday, 13 March 2011
Time: Various screening times
Venue: Gallery Theatre, Basement, National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
Tickets: $8 per person, $6.40 (concession), [excluding SISTIC fee]
MRT Station: City Hall/Dhoby Ghaut
Contact: 6332 3659 / 6332 5642
and you can find out more details from this link.