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I remember having a conversation one day with a friend i was "educating" in Asian cinema, and giving him a few films, including Hong-Kong, Macau, Mainland and Taiwan. He laughed at the fact that i was making a distinction for something that to him was just "Chinese" films. However, each of those "Chinese" regions have a distinct coloration that permeates their film industry. In the span of a few months, i have seen five really outstanding Taiwanese films. I must admit i have a weakness for films coming from Taiwan: they have a very artsy European feel in terms of the subject matters they touch, their slower pace, and their more contemplative nature. In that respect, they break away from the rest of Asia, although independent South Korean fares come close.
So here, i am going to cover those 5 films briefly: Prince Of Tears, How Are You Dad?, Hear Me, Tears, and Yang Yang. They are all from 2009, a prolific year for Taiwan, and cover epic historical landscapes, intimate personal relationships, quirky romances, and destructive obsessions.
How Are You Dad? (2009) is an anthology of 10 short stories about dads. Some are poignant, some are cute and funny, some are contemplative and philosophical. I think anyone watching this film will find at least one story that will touch them. I did. I mean, who doesn't have a strong, even if difficult, relationship with their parents, and i feel that father stories are pretty rare. When one is done, and done well, it's a pleasure. This is a fun film to watch, that epitomizes the definition of bitter-sweet. The cast is generally very competent, and the production value varies greatly from piece to piece. A few are marvelously creative visually speaking, while others are fairly plain video shoots.
I wish i had more to write about this, but going into each of the shorts is not really practical, and given that they are each about 10 minutes, they focus on one angle of a relationship, or one emotion, or a particularly simple event that binds. There are definitely a few gems here, and i highly recommend it. To note, this is not a family movie though as some subject matter are pretty intense.
- Laurent Hasson