Taipei Story

1985

Drama

180
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 1,681

Synopsis


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May 11, 2020

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.07 GB
1280*720
Chinese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
119 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.99 GB
1920×1080
Chinese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
119 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by the red duchess 9 / 10 / 10

Superlative early Edward Yang.

Although all Edward Yang's films deal with similar themes, characters and milieux, it has been common to divide his work into three relatively distinct categories - the multi-character panoramas (e.g. 'Yi yi', 'A brighter summer day'); the satiric comedies (e.g. 'A Confucian confusion'); and the formalist, Antonionian studies in urban alienation (e.g. 'The Terroriser'). These latter are the most difficult to watch, with narrative rigorously fragmented, characterisation distant, the ugly, monumental urban backdrop dominant. On the surface, 'Taipei Story' seems to belong to this category. Its opening sequence is similar to the tone of 'the Terroriser'. A couple are checking out an empty apartment the woman hopes to move in to. Yang emphasises the inchoate nature of the apartment, its emptiness, its forbidding whiteness and angularity - the first thing you notice about an empty apartment is how many walls it has. The woman talks a lot about what she hopes to do with it, but the characters' expressions are as blank as the rooms that surround them. We wonder if the apartment is a projection of their relationship's hollowness, or a sign of its future, its beginning, something to be filled up with life. Yang's way of filming his characters in this space, blocking them off from one another by walls, framing them in doorways etc., certainly seems to suggest a distance in their relationship. After all, the man is just about to go to America on a business trip - this very ritual of togetherness is shadowed by an upcoming rupture. As in 'Terroriser', there is something almost metaphysical about this scene, which seems to be about the material (walls, floors etc.). There are traces of previous occupants. The woman talks about what she intends to do with the room. Yet between the past and the future, these characters exist in a very empty present tense, ghosts in the house of predecessors and future selves. This feeling of being and yet not being quite there is quite familiar in Yang's work - we see it in the dream narrative of 'Terroriser', for example. One of his most recurring devices is to film action in window-reflections or mirrors, visualising the theme of alienation so central to his work (alienation from family, work, city etc.), but domesticating it, showing that the bigger alienations start with an alienation of the self. The vast jungle of the skyscraper-laden city is thus a literally monumental backdrop for the human shadowplays that comprise the drama. As in the best novels, the best films crystallise their thematic and narrative intentions in the opening scene, which is why this sequence is so important. It also structures the narrative to come, which will chart the fragmentation of the relationship, and the separate, doom-laden destinies of the lovers. But although everything points to 'Taipei story' belonging to the third category, there is a humanism at work that brings it closer to the first. In 'Terroriser', the characters' lack of character was a crucial thematic element, but made it difficult for the viewer to be interested in their fate, forcing him/her to concentrate on their formal properties as part of the overall mise-en-scene. In 'Taipei story', as in 'Yi Yi', we are closer to 3-D characters, we are given insight into their personalities, their histories, their desires, their frustrations. We see them at work, at play, at home. We see them interacting with the city, even as they are defeated by it, rather than simply ground down by it. this is not to suggest a softening of Yang's formal rigour (there is none of the saccharine miramaxmusic of 'Yi yi' for instance), but in this case it is poignantly counterpointed by the characters, used to express their predicament, rather than a more abstract theme. Yang's greatest strength is the way he can turn a teeming city into an empty dreamscape, or turn the familiar everyday into something uncanny by moonlight. He could almost be a Surrealist.

Reviewed by DICK STEEL / 10

A Nutshell Review: Taipei Story

Edward Yang's second feature film deals with the systematic breakdown of a relationship in urban Taiwan society, and to say the least I'm always emotionally apprehensive with something like this because it's terribly bleak without any positive reprise, as it chips away slowly but surely toward an inevitable finale. Still, while not as sprawling as his first feature, Taipei Story is just as masterful in its treatment of topics of being alienated in your own society, and being unable to escape from past glories that frankly nobody gives a hoot about. Two big names in Taiwan put on their acting chops as leading performers of this film, the first being Tsai Chin the songstress who would go on to become Yang's first wife, and starring opposite her is Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the acclaimed film director whom you would have seen earlier in a more comical (or at least going by the laughs his small role received) part of being part of a management posse. And frankly, he has that tremendous charisma in front of the screen, just that his talents also extend going behind the camera more often than he is in front of one. They play the couple Chin and Lon respectively, where the film opens with the couple looking at an apartment they can call their own. All seems well at first, until the story by Yang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Chu Tien-Wen begin to unfold and reveal the cracks that exist beneath. You're not going to be successful each time you sweep things under the carpet, and here the issues are many which includes a sudden turn of events in the career of Chin, being quite confident about her promotion in the beginning before a forced acquisition of the company she works for meant her position is made redundant. Seeking solace and a listening ear from her boyfriend Lon looked like a tall order, with Lon being preoccupied with trying to assimilate back to society having spent some time in Los Angeles, and struggling to find his identity since he's still stuck in the glorious years of the past with his Lttlle League baseball success. From this point on your suspicion of the lack of intimacy rears its ugly head, as one poignant scene involves Lon just staring blankly at his lover who had mentioned the demise of her career, but you can tell just how badly he wants to go back to the television baseball game, and a recorded one at that. Chin constantly hiding beind large, and I mean large, sunglasses also makes it difficult for the viewer, and others around her, to gaze into her soul since the eyes hold the key to that, and probably added to her frustration of being misunderstood without knowing she's also partly responsible for that. Hou Hsiao-Hsien on the other hand plays that swaggering protagonist with aplomb, intense and constantly on the edge to give others a piece of his mind or two when they cross him through snide remarks, which ultimately this hot headedness and growing impetuousness will prove to be his downfall, not being able to fulfill the dream he once had with the woman he once loved. In many ways this urban saga highlighting the troubles, issues and concerns of a working middle class are easily identifiable with even for us folks in Singapore, where many of us are juggling careers with other passions (normally tussling for the limited time we have to spend on them), and the various roles that we play in life, from being a family member, to a friend or a colleague. It's painful to watch as these get put on screen, and those looking for escapism in film will be confronted squarely with what's essentially those issues that one desires to escape from. Here are people stuck with the roles that they cannot run from, and sometimes societal pressures also mean that one has to help the elders to bail out from their situation in what's essentially a wait-and-see, or to tackle things as they come by, one at a time approach. We can tell how beholden Lon is to Chin's father, and the latter's troubles also mean an additional financial pressure placed on Lon. Then on the relationship front come complications from an ex seeking a divorce, and a fellow co-worker looking for companionship with his own impending divorce - seems like any relationship here in the film is constantly on the rocks, such as Lon's taxi friend whom he runs (literally) into - and these present challenges to what's already a fragile couple waiting for an eruption of emotional and trust issues. Yang's film seems to suggest these are urban traits inevitable at the pace society's moving, trading rapid economic growth for relationship woes as the people's focus changes direction with different priorities being misplaced. From his earlier work, these issues were explored, and they continue here in more depth since the number of characters are more than halved to allow focus and depth of exploration. I'm already curious and optimistic that more of such themes will pop out in the subsequent films in this retrospect (having read their synopsis) and it does seem bleaker in the road up ahead. Recommended, although personally I'd prefer Yang's first film to this one, probably because this cuts too close to home and reality.

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