Its veneer of abstract dispassion gradually reveals a heartfelt alternate history that lives up to the genre’s notions of nobility.
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.
Stephen Chow’s distinctive vision is evident in the seemingly boundless imagination of his scenarios, and in the film’s sincere spiritual concerns and generosity toward misfits and outsiders.
The visual magnificence shouldn’t be too surprising, as the film has been directed by Andrew Lau.