The excellent transfer and quality features cement one of Hou’s most accessible works as an early highlight of the year’s home-video releases.
The set is best viewed as another fine product from the hopefully ongoing collaboration between Criterion and the World Cinema Project.
Its veneer of abstract dispassion gradually reveals a heartfelt alternate history that lives up to the genre’s notions of nobility.
To hear him speak about his process and his professionalism, you wouldn’t think he’d skipped a beat since Flight of the Red Balloon.
It carves out a rich emotional sphere concomitant to its stunning production design, finding delicate poetry in the dispassionate pursuit of revenge.
One of Hou’s constant themes (one that recurs in the work of many of the notable Taiwanese directors) is alienation, not just of a personal, but of a national sort.
In a competition otherwise marked by compromise and caution, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s austere, astounding film feels like it’s been beamed in from another era entirely.
IFFR’s 44th edition was my fourth in attendance, and its program has never felt so scattered, a sensation that I found delightful.