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Film General : ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Tai...

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¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Guang yin de gu shi (1982)

‘In Our Time’ is an omnibus film that started the Taiwanese New Wave, consisting of four segments by four different directors. I don't know if each director also wrote their own segment or if it was a more collaborative effort. There is a chronological progression from one segment to the next, going from the 50's to the 60's to the 70's and finally to the then-present, and each segment focuses on an older group of people than the segment before. Are the protagonist(s) actually the same character in all the segments? Maybe - maybe not - it doesn’t matter. But it might suggest that it was more of a collaborative effort.

First up is “Little Dragon Head” which to me is up there with the great childhood nostalgia films, and I was very surprised to learn afterwards that it wasn’t directed by Edward Yang because it had quite a few similarities to other Yang works, especially to 'A Brighter Summer Day', from its time period, to various motifs like the precious family radio, to the boy protagonist, to the film's brilliant evocation of childhood nostalgia, to most of all the self-assured and very sophisticated direction. Even more shocking to me was to see that Tao Te-chen, the actual director of this segment, not only hadn't made a film before, but that it also remains his only directing effort to date, with only a few acting credits in the 80's to his name. Not that in Edward Yang’s segment “Expectations”, which comes second, I didn’t also recognize some of his touches, and it isn’t a bad segment either, although nothing special, IMO.

Like the first segment “Expectations” also successfully evokes some nostalgia but feels comparatively try-hard with its consistently quite hazy visuals and more period-specific references (Vietnam war, The Beatles) to overall much lesser effect for me. It’s a decent coming-of-age tale about a girl’s sexual awakening filmed with enough spaces to not feel too much like the plot-driven affair with a clichéd character arc that it pretty much is. It doesn’t offer much in terms of characterizations either.
But I don’t want to make it sound bad, overall I quite enjoyed it and its director seemed to know well enough what he was doing, it, to me, just felt like it was a pale shadow of the first segment, not to mention Yang's own later 'A Brighter Summer Day' (I haven’t yet seen Yang’s other early films ‘That Day, on the Beach’ and ‘Taipei Story’, maybe there’s a progression from film to film that show the evolution of this filmmaker to eventually make something as mindblowing as ‘The Terrorizers’ and ‘A Brighter Summer Day’).

The other two segments I don't even care to write about. I’ll just say that they are more broad comedies.

So instead I want to concentrate on the great opening segment “Little Dragon Head”. Its male protagonist Hsiao-mao is around 11 or 12 years old. He always seems to get the short end of the stick, his classmates/”friends” constantly pick on him and in the eyes of his parents he can’t seem to do anything right even though from what we can see he is a perfectly nice boy. Not so his little brother who gets all the love and privileges from the parents although he is pretty misbehaved and seems to be so dim-witted as to come off as borderline retarded at times. Certainly the segment doesn't have balanced characterizations (not that any of the others do), but rather than making this a lesser film it instead seemed to be the film’s main way of signifying that it is told from the boy’s subjective point of view because the cinematic style itself is neutral and maybe even somewhat detached. What boy didn't feel unfairly treated by everybody, like everything is somebody elses fault? I know I did. This makes it easy to identify with him. And let’s not forget that it is after all a comedy (although not the “Ha! Ha! kind”) and it only has 30 minutes to tell its story. Though to call it a “story” is maybe an overstatement, certainly it isn't plot-driven, and while in the end one can make out a little tale, the film feels much more like a series of impressions and the kind of anecdotes that we are probably all familiar with from our childhood days.

And let me just give one example of the, to me, masterful filmmaking at display in ”Little Dragon Head”. It is a brief sequence very much at the beginning of the film, when Hsiao-mao comes home, as soon as he opens the front gate he is “greeted” by his mother (reproaching him for things he hasn’t even done yet) and some children wearing masks and a boy who identifies himself as his brother take notice of his arrival. This is all shot in close-ups and medium-shots, deriving the viewer of a full picture of the situation. When it cuts to the brother again along with three mask-wearing kids, who are now all playing with marbles, one could easily assume that our protagonist has joined the group and they are now all having fun together. But no, it now cuts to a wide overhead shot that finally reveals the whole scene and Hsiao-mao is still standing in the front gate and is now trudging into the house while the other children rejoice in a playful mood (along with the mother). This is achieved through smart editing, framing, scoring,…well, the whole package, and without being explicit the brief sequence immediately sets up the protagonist’s isolation which is at the center of this film.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about ‘In Our Time’, but I also feel the need to mention that the boy in "Expections" weirded me out. He very much sounded like he was dubbed by an adult man pretending to be 10. What adds to the weirdness is that he is introduced wearing (presumingly) a school uniform, but which looks a lot like a soldier’s uniform. Is that a child or a little person? Is it meant to be a little person portraying an adult or is the actor a little person who the film tries to pass off as a child, as has been done to hilarious effect in the Italian zombie schlockfest ‘Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror’, though in that case the film depicted an incestuous relationship between son and mother (with the boy literally eating one of his mother's tits...yes, you read that right), so the odd casting choice was justified in that respect. Anyway, it wasn't that big of a deal to me, I just found it weird and a bit off-putting.

My approximate would-be ratings for the individual segments:

Little Dragon Head: 9-
Expectations: 6+
Leap Frog: 5
Say Your Name: 4+

Overall: 6+/10

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Oh you

This is what I wrote without reading what you have:

‘光陰的故事/Guang yin de gu shi’ known in English as ‘In Our Time’ is a 1982 Taiwanese anthology film with 4 segments: Little Dragonhead (directed by Teh-Chen Tao), Expectations/Desires (by Edward Yang), Leap Frog (by Yi-Chen Ko) and Say Your Name (by Yi Chang). It’s an early experiment for all 4 directors who would later be associated with the Taiwanese New Wave, especially Edward Yang of course.

The individual short films are connected stylistically, there is a progression of age between each protagonist and the time period they live in (a boy going to primary school in the 50s, a girl going to secondary school in the 60s, a guy going to university in the 70s and finally an adult and his wife not going to school in the 80s), and all 4 seems to be based on a similar thematic focus: the characters share a certain loneliness and struggle, because their desires, dreams and hopes cannot be fulfilled within a hostile environment, where it’s implied that the hindering, even oppressive malice is formed by the people one’s compelled to live with. This is especially true for the first two, the last one looks at more lighter, comedic and immediate goals that need to be attained (like in Kieślowski’s ‘Dekalog’ - the last film is a black comedy whereas all the preceding ones are more or less dramas, in both anthologies I think this decision works out very well). The third is a combination of both approaches. All endings provide some form of imperfect, incomplete consolidation, redemption and reward for all protagonists.

Each film is nicely, clearly shot, with light interiors and things in every shot that capture ones attention. Although, as it seems, Edward Yang became the most prominent and accomplished director of the four, I found the first one, ‘Little Dragonhead’ to be the best directed one of the bunch, with more flowing and drifting takes as opposed to only static ones. It also cuts at exactly the right moments, keeping an excellent pace. Narratively it’s the most accessible, comprehensive and reflective one too, so it’s no surprise that I liked it best.

‘Little Dragonhead’ is about bullying and mendacity afflicted on a little boy by everyone, including his parents. Right from the start, he wanders on rail tracks next to a waste disposal with cool music playing overhead, but when he reaches his house the tunes fade out and the boy’s confronted by scary masks worn by his brother’s friends, as well as his mother that instantly criticises a shortcoming in her mind that’s entirely unimportant in reality. The other kids are playing and clearly favoured by the parent over the protagonist who must do some work, and never quite enough of it, since progressively he’s commanded more and more things to do, while his stuff (toys) are successively taken away from him, whereas it’s implied that his (little?) brother recurrently receives new stuff (I’m thinking of the scene where he annoys his older brother by riding a new and (according to the father) expensive yellow car on his toes, so that the older brother pushes the younger brother’s toy away, because of which he’s punished by his parents, while the former situation was unnoticed, a clear example of favouritism and mendacity too). There are many other simple instances of bullying that aren’t overly predictable, coming up in situations that are practically known to everyone, yet unforeseeable. There is the grownups-get-together with the parents-kids divide scheme - the kids must be obedient, not annoying the parents doing adult things like listening to the radio, and stick together at the cost of awkwardness (even regardless of the fact that the two brother don’t get along, who can imagine them playing with a hardly speaking girl that takes care of a doll?!?). When ennui ensues, the parents have an ingenious plan - put them in another room and give them some paper to draw on. Little brother makes an abstract masterpiece whereby he totally stains himself. The protagonist after a while starts to passionately draw his favourite toy in the world, a dinosaur, but after he’s done, the girl takes the picture and shows it to the parents, taking credit for his accomplishments. Heartbreaking scene. Especially considering that the boy is practically and metaphorically a shy mute.

What keeps him going? The aforementioned favourite thing every, a dinosaur, something of absolute value for him, but something deemed “junk” by his father, another point of divergence and misunderstanding between the parent and the child. This obsession about which he also dreams in a hilarious dream sequence with an ape orchestra, is the reason he’s nicknamed the eponymous Little Dragonhead by his peers, which also extensively bully him - they steal his toy, they throw paper at him in Carlin-approved ‘sleeping-daydreaming’ classes (probably not as he imagined them though, here, they’re enforced, in uncomfortable positions, with supervision… where amusingly no-one can really succeed in doing what’s intended), they mock him being attracted to a certain girl, another great sequence with surprisingly fitting phoney, “hopeful”, “heroic”, “triumphant” music, when the whole school is basically making fun of him and he must attempt at some form of revenge and vengeance following the boy who started it all. But of course, Little Dragonhead cannot beat the whole system.

The ingenious thing was to repeat the family-meeting scene where the kids have to draw. Instantly I got the sensation of being curious what will happen this time - can the protagonist accomplish something for himself now, fight the oppressors? His dinosaur has been thrown away by his father, so surprisingly, optimistically the previously mean girl with the doll proposes that they search it together, in other words, escape out of the house without the parents’ consent, go on an adventure in the dark, pursue reclamation of truth, values - the toy. When the mission succeed, it was nice of the filmmakers to show how they cover up the traces by washing their hands and the dinosaur. And in a nice concluding recompense, the boy ably draws the doll for the girl. Mission succeed and a happy ending, I guess. Sort of. He might have made a friend there and reclaimed the toy, the idea and some form of connection to his absolute dreams and desires - dinosaurs. Seriously, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? They’re fierce, “prehistoric”, extinct, exotic beings.

I’m sure there’s more going on in here, more can be said about the social contexts and parents and the technology that enters their live in the 50s, with radios, TVs, airplanes. I was reminded of Ozu’s ‘I Was Born, But…’ and ‘Ohayo/Good Morning’ in this regard, though in ‘In Out Time: Part 1’ the brothers obviously don’t really stick together. 7-8/10

Similarly to ‘Little Dragonhead’, ‘Expectations/Desires’ (whose title definitely shows what’s the common theme of 4 films in this anthology) is a coming-of-age film portraying rather obvious and perhaps even overdone things in nonetheless an interesting fashion. A girl learns how to ride a bike with a friend, she starts to become more self-conscious and curious about her body, so she looks at herself in the mirror, while perhaps comparing herself to her older sister, that despite being an unsupportive slacker for the family (with a single mother), is sort of admired by the protagonist (it’s the 60s - you’ve got to have a good reputation if you listen to ‘The Beatles’). She has a period, she asks her sister “when did you start liking boys?”, and all her sexual awakening is catalysed by a student that moves into a free room owned by the family. I liked how there were cut-scenes to her imagination and reminisces, close-ups of the man’s shirtless chest as he does some work for his landlords, which is what the protagonist obviously concentrates on. Her dreams of being with that older stranger are shattered when she sees him in bed with her own older sister. The girl is hurt inside, she now holds a grudge, a struggle that needs to be overcome, and that’s a natural, healthy part of probably everyone’s adolescence at one point or another.

There are many Chopin pieces here, even one that I played myself a couple of years ago, I appreciated that. The ending, where she’s redeemed by her younger bike-friend that also promises to reach puberty one day, was fairly nicely invented given the short running time of the film. 6/10

Leap Frog - 4-5/10, I wasn’t particularly paying attention to this one, but from what I can gather, there is this stumbling between university lectures, organisations, meetings, appointments, competitions & elections, and the guy’s relationships, sex-life, girls-life - there’s someone special he has to work for, someone he's attracted to. There's also a scene where he doesn’t particularly listen to Confucian and Taoist teachings, but prefers to look at cheerleaders outside the classroom. One quote that I liked in some lecture:
“What does Pigsy represent? (…) Besides the passion, what’s left?” - “The uncontrollable human nature! Rampant Desire!” responds the protagonist.

Say Your Name - A crammed apartment. “If I don’t get this newspaper I’ll die.” Locked outside of ones apartment with only underwear, a towel, glasses and some flip-flops. Going from one neighbour to the next in search of a solution to this absurd situation, meeting different people, painting a sociological portrayal of what seems like public housing. Although the protagonist is no celebrity like Birdman, he walks on the streets, amusingly. Meanwhile his wife cannot get to her job on her first day because she forgot her ID. Almost everyone experienced and can relate to a situation like this I presume - not to be able to get somewhere important due to lacking or forgetting some essential little trespass. So we need to find a breach. A line that made me laugh was “Who do you think you are? CIA agent? Are you making an atomic bomb here?”, when the wife quarreled with the guard that didn’t allow her to enter.
As the shortest of the 4 segments, this one ended quite abruptly and favourably for the protagonists - as the man absurdly tried to climb the wall along a gutter to his apartment by was too afraid to go any further due to the dog called ‘Lucky’ that makes his appearance for the third time, he falls down, but then gets ‘accepted’ by the community he just moved into - he receives his precious newspaper and is greeted by his neighbours the next morning. So it all works out it seems. Only I suppose that there is much more potential in new absurd situations for the couple - once sloppy - always sloppy. Overall this is some decent short black comedy. 6/10

The plot pieces I'm recalling are meant to be the little things, situations and struggles that I enjoyed watching. It is a nice predecessor to the Taiwanese New Wave, anticipating some of the essential themes that compromise that movement.

'In Our Time' - 6/10


Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

You are such a copycat. Pretty amazing that you wrote all this without having read my comment, but of course I'm quite used to us very often sharing the same opinions. Your write-up is more user-friendly for people who haven't already seen the film (more thorough and balanced), I think you definitely should submit it as a review to IMDb.

I have no siblings, but clearly I could very much identify with the boy anyway, for example from the experiences of teachers always favoring other students which is a pretty similar situation, but if I wasn't an only child I probably could have identified with "Little Dragon Head" even more.

Yeah, the little brother's "abstract masterpiece", haha. You could take it as the kid being particularly imaginative by apparently not being literally-minded, if only it wasn't for everything else that we know about him, which certainly doesn't show him as being a bright kid in any way, not to mention that in the second drawing session he repeats the exact same drawing like some trained monkey.

At first I also thought that the girl deceitfully wanted to take credit for the dinosaur drawing, but as the sequence went on I figured that there was more going on. Hsiao-mao silently looks on all the way through and it seems out of character for the girl to me, I don't think that she cared much for seeking recognition by the adults, let alone in this dishonest way and right in front of the eyes of the betrayed party (she also receives the reactions of the adults completely stone-faced while the boy seems very eager to hear the reactions). Finally after Hsiao-mao has seen and heard all the reactions he leaves the room with his head hanging, and he certainly never seems to be angry at the girl afterwards.
What I think happened was that he deliberately asked her to present the drawing to the adults as being her work, to see what the reactions would be, because he thought that they would disapprove of it just for knowing that he drew it. Having the adults think that it is the girl's drawing he figured he could get maybe a more honest opinion. But I think he didn't so much seek approval for his work in this case, more importantly he wanted to test his parents' love for him. He already was convinced that he did a pretty rad drawing, but I think he was already used to his work being criticized by his parents, so seeing the adults approve of the drawing when they didn't know that it was his convinced him that for some inexplicable reason they just didn't like him, no matter what he would do. Also, how could the parents not realize that he drew it? They know perfectly well about his dinosaur obsession and one would think that a parent would recognize one's own child's drawing style (the girl apparently wasn't into drawing at all, so her parents probably also should have realized that she couldn't have suddenly drawn this amazing dinosaur).

He actually draws the doll holding the dinosaur in its arms, so the drawing merges both of the children's passion, emphasizing the connection that the two made with each other. Also, I think the implication at the end of this segment very much is that his parents won't come visit the girl's parent's anymore, so the two will likely never meet again after that evening.

The song choices in this segment I also found very appropriate and effective, I especially liked the song that accompanied the boy's and girl's "journey" of retrieving his dinosaur from the trash.

"Expectations" - I found it interesting how the girl had her first period the night after riding the bike so much. This wasn't stated explicitly but I think that she assumed that this weird nightly blood-letting occurrence was the result of riding the bike too much, hence why she refused to ride the bike after that, so it wasn't so much that she didn't want to spend time with the adult-voiced boy anymore, she was just freaked out about her period.

Hehe, yeah, the last one has this parallel to 'Birdman', I hadn't thought of that.

I didn't mention this in my write-up, I think that the little girl in the first segment and the protagonist of the second one both were named Hsia-fen. The boy's name, Hsiao-mao (pretty similar), may have also popped up several times in several of the later segments. I'm very bad with those Asian names so I couldn't be sure.

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Hehe... but there are a bunch of films we've got diverging opinions on based on our ratings - tell me I'm a REAL boy! But yeah, just now and in the SWAP about that French cinéma vérité film for example we looked at stuff and wrote them down in very similar ways, independently.
It's only got 2 user reviews so far, so I guess it won't hurt anyone if I put my unclear rambling on there too :P

It was hilarious that the little brother drew the exact same masterpiece the second time around and felt just as content and smug about it. These little things are what make this film funnier, lighter and more down-to-earth while being original and surprising - nuanced.

You thought of that scene more than me, I just took it at face value: she takes credit for his work while the parents are so oblivious that they don't recognize the children's drawing styles and assume it's hers, automatically praising it (because that's what parents ought to do?) without particularly noticing it or even appreciating it in the first place and even though as you said "they know perfectly well about his dinosaur obsession" (talk about alienation in Taiwan). That would be the cynical reading, but that's how I understood it.

I like the idea that he willingly gives it to her (or allows it to be taken from him) to study the parents' reactions. Smart; this shows he's capable of understanding and studying his 'position', so to say and attempting to do something about it.

Another possibility is that the girl took his painting and maybe tried to explain to the parents' that it's his, out of courtesy, because she knows he's shy, but failed at expressing that herself? Wouldn't bet on this one, but nothing seems to disprove this.

It might also be important what to think of what happens to the second drawing when thinking about the first - as you clarified (thanks), he draws the doll+dinosaur, so it is sort of a pact between the two, merging the passions. Obviously he leaves it at her house, it's a form of gift for her, but what does she do with it? Will she keep and safeguard it, remember their short mutual adventure thanks to it, or lie again to her parents that it's her picture too?

"We'll always have [that night when we searched for my dinosaur toy in the trash]?"

Bike-riding leading to a first period, I'll have this in mind when listening or salvaging that Romantic Chopin Waltz I used to play.

Oh, I didn't retain any of the names in this film myself. If characters of previous segments come up in latter ones for real (and not just when alternatively reading it metaphorically in the sense of all 4 are really 1 zwitter), those would've been nice subtle connections, that unfortunately we can't do a lot with since we hardly get any character backstories or exposition since the short films are short and focused primarily on a single protagonist.


Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

I loved how the girl watches them do their drawings, especially the little brother, her facial expression is kind of fascinated and repulsed at the same time, as if she was witnessing a car accident.

Of course that the parents don't pay much attention to the children or care about them particularly much (in general, but in this situation where the parents are socializing with each other in particular) also is part of the point of the scene. I too considered that the girl maybe intended to tell them that it is Hsiao-mao's drawing but that she didn't quite get to it because the parents didn't really care anyway. She didn't look to me like she made any attempts to do so, though, but I guess it isn't impossible that this was the case.

I think she probably liked the drawing (less as a memento of their trash-venture, but simply because it is a picture of her beloved doll), so she is bound to keep it at least for a while. Here again I see no reason why she would care to fraudulently seek recognition for the drawing, if she lies about this drawing being hers I think it will only be to prevent it from being thrown away (parents aren't likely to keep drawings of some "random" kid, but they'll probably keep the drawings of their own child).

I may have even seen in another film a girl on a bike having her first period. But perhaps not, what I certainly do remember is one or maybe even two or three films with a girl riding a bike having her first orgasm. In one of them the girl got obsessed with riding her bike, making riding to school in the morning her favorite part of every day. But she wasn't interested in boys, instead she basically looked at her bike like the girl in "Expectations" looked at the lodger's bare chest.

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Well, what can I say, it seems like we agree a lot on this one too and that we made the same points independently, like that first one is greatly directed or that the beginning of 'Little Dragon Head' "immediately sets up the protagonist’s isolation which is at the center of this film," as you put it.

I like your idea that the unbalanced characterization is a way making the film the boy's subjective account even if the cinematic style is neutral, distanced, detached. This would mean that it's making itself a more universally identifiable protagonist, instead of just being about the "totally bullied one" - anyone who has felt some mischief (and who hasn't?), can in one way or another identify with the boy and his experiences; I have too.

The scene where he's mocked by literally the whole school (where are the teachers?) with that "surprisingly fitting phoney, “hopeful”, “heroic”, “triumphant” music", as I described it, seemed like an extension of his mind, a scene played out in his imagination as opposed to something that actually happened (there not being any teachers to prevent this sort of behaviour is implausible, however if the filmmakers actually meant that to be real, then that's some loaded social commentary from their part). I suppose one could take it as a dream sequence created by his fears. A more cynical interpretation would be that he's self-pityingly making up such a situation to paradoxically get some gratification and consolidation out of it ("look at my miseries").

I got a strange impression from that boy in 'Expectations' too, but instead of finding it off-putting, I figured he was simply an eccentric little friend of hers from the neighbourhood, the single person that keeps her company, and she cannot change his appearance (or voice).


Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

I find it pretty sad that Te-chen Tao apparently hasn't directed anything else. Seems like a waste of talent. But I wonder if Edward Yang didn't maybe also have his hand in the first segment, and like I said, I wonder who actually wrote each of the segments, I couldn't find any information on this.

The somewhat detached style is very much the style of the Taiwanese New Wave, so 'In Our Time' probably wouldn't have been much of an initiator of the Taiwanese New Wave if "Little Dragon Head" had been overly impressionistic or whatever. I think this unbalanced account is a clever alternate approach to subjectivity, and it's also a good way of creating a comedic film. While the film certainly doesn't offer much (or any) laughs it has a light tone that makes it reasonable enough to pass it off as a comedy. The same is pretty much true for all the other segments as well.

I'm not sure if you mean the scene in the class room when the other kids throw stuff at him or the scene in the yard when they presumingly draw something like "Hsiao-mao + [that girl]" on the wall, but the first scene has no music, so I guess you are thinking of the second one. This is apparently during a break, between classes, and the children could play in the yard, I think it isn't at all unusual that they are very much unsupervised in that situation and they have a lot of freedom to pretty much do what they want, even if it is probably just for a few minutes. It was the same in my grade school (although we didn't go to the yard during a regular break, we just ran around in the school building...even we weren't really supposed to...but I didn't go to a country school where each class room is basically a separate building and the schoolyard is right outside the door).

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

imdb simply lists the four directors as the fours screenwriters. However then I found this trivia:

According to a TV interview of writer Hsiao Yeh(the four directors' colleague and friend), this movie's concept came from four kinds of animals. The story of first segment, 'Little Dragon Head', is created from the dinosaur. The second segment, 'Expectation', is the cat. The third segment, 'Leapfrog', is the frog. The last segment, 'Say Your Name' is the dog.
So Hsiao Yeh collaborated on the script. He's also the second writer of 'The Terrorizers' btw. I would suppose that it was a collaborative effort, as you said, when they even got a 5th colleague on the job, perhaps even more, and at some point or another they had to sit at a table together.

It also crossed my mind to view all four protagonists as the same character developing over time, but given two sex changes that would have to happen I told myself it's an irrelevant question and it's better to just view the 4 films separately, but having some linking thematic idea at its core.

They're all pretty light in tone with some laughs, yeah. And generally I'd say that all characters are in the end in better positions, in the sense that they understand that their dreams will never be fulfilled, but they've had some formative experience and "wise up". I'd compare that to Rick in 'Casablanca' - he cannot fly away with Ingrid, but he can begin a beautiful friendship with someone else, just like the girl in 'Expectations' with an Italian zombie...

The "Hsiao-mao + [that girl]" on the wall and him fighting on classroom benches with the person who wrote that. I know it's a break, but I still found it strange that a lot of laughing children could amass just like that without anyone hearing or caring to notice what's so funny to all the kids. The lack of any teacher intervention makes sense if we interpret that scene as his exaggerated impression or a dream sequence.

In any case, in my primary school such a situation would never have been possible, because during break we had to go to the schoolyard and classroom access wasn't possible. The supervisor:children ratio was perhaps around 1:30, it was a rather big school, which didn't stop the teachers from running to anything remotely out of ordinary.

This comes to my mind now:


Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

On the 'A Brighter Summer Day' Criterion disc there is a two-hour documentary about the Taiwanese New Wave which gives a fairly detailed account of how this film came about, but I don't remember much of it, and I didn't finish it because it was a poorly made and mostly uninteresting documentary (if that collection of talking heads can even be called a documentary).

The group of children waiting for the boy around the corner to point their fingers at him and laugh I think certainly can be argued to be very heightened, but not so much so that it felt like more of a dream sequence to me. The film does have an actual dream sequence, and it is very explicitly made clear that it is a dream. But looking at the past through a deliberately nostalgic lens I think has a lot in common with dreams, so even if such a film doesn't explicitly have an older version of one of the characters looking back at their past thereby rendering the whole childhood story a flashback/a story withing a story/etc, I think in many respects can in its entirety be likened to a dream.

Well, in Poland maybe only the government waits around the corner to point fingers and laugh in your face at school... But not so in Austria (and I went to a private Christian school!) and in 60's Taiwan apparently not either.

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

I'll try to watch 'A Brighter Summer Day' this month, it seems like I can especially like since it's coming-of-age, and if it's directed as good as Yang's 'The Terrorizers' then I'm a happy camper. Is it like your favourite first time viewing this year so far?

After seeing 'Little Dragonhead' I was reminded by 'Once Upon a Time in America', even though the former's childhood memories/impressions were created by focusing on more discrete things like bullying and dinosaurs(rosebud?). I don't think LD would've made a bad flashback sequence in some larger film that the directors/writers seem to have been capable of making.

Supervision didn't stop us from pointing fingers and beating the *beep* out of each other, just like other healthy children do.

The Polish government sure sucks and so does the media, their nastiness reinforced by one and other. I was in Warsaw one week ago and I was disgusted to see that all cinemas extensively air a film called 'Smoleńsk', which is basically about a journalist trying to find evidence for her suspicion that the 2010 plane crash where among others the president died was actually an attack, an assassination, a conspiracy theory a significant part of the population and the government officials they elected believe in. Children go in school classes to see that film. At least the IMDb raters seem to have gotten it right: It is probably one of the most boring, worthless and repugnant films out there, but of course I'll watch it, it's my national duty after all.

Anyway. So to end this on a better note, 'La Coquille et le clergyman' [37min, 18fps] (with 'La Folie du docteur Tube' as part of a "Madness and obsession in silent films" cycle) was screened at the same time as 'Blade Runner', and now I found out it's being played again, this Tuesday; perhaps I'll go and see it. There is a live piano accompaniment to it.


Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

It's a very different film to 'The Terrorizers', but of course it's well-directed, beyond well-directed, and pretty much well-everything. I don't like absolutes, like comparing essentially incomparable films to each other to pick a favorite one (even if for better or worse I eventually will have to decide on one film, come the end-of-the-year list), I think this was one of only two films that I have given a 10 to this year so far, but I would be just as happy with one of my strong 9's at the top of my end-of-the-year list. But yes, "Brighter" certainly would be a very worthy top spot to me.

'Once Upon a Time in America' I guess could use a rewatch. I haven't yet seen the extended cut that was put together a few years ago. I had a lot of appreciation for it (it's an 8/10 after all) but I wasn't totally taken by it. The film that I was most reminded of during "Little Dragon Head" was 'Only Yesterday'. Watching Asian films I'm always mostly reminded of just other Asians films for some reason, so there is that factor. Although 'Only Yesterday' has a lot more going on, being at least as much (or more) about the grown-up protagonist than it is about the child-version of her, but I guess it has somehow become my usual association when it comes to great films about (pre-puberty) childhood and nostalgia.

Supervision didn't stop us from pointing fingers and beating the *beep* out of each other, just like other healthy children do.
Well, maybe it SHOULD have, then at least there would be ONE good thing about constant supervision. Then again, I would have missed out on all the fun times of me bullying other children. OK, you are right, I always had a problem with persons of authority, whatever the situation was in school, it's rare that I actually wished there was a teacher watching. Besides, school was a waste of time anyway. A bunch of people running around, bumping into each other. Guy up front says, "two plus two", people in the back say, "four". Then the bell rings, and they give you a carton of milk and a piece of paper that says you can go take a dump or something. I mean, it's it's not a place for smart people, Carmel, and I know that's not a popular opinion, but it's my two cents on the issue.

I checked out the trailer for 'Smoleńsk' a few days ago when I saw it in your ratings list, and was amused, it certainly looked bad and on the propagandistic side, though I wondered what exactly the deal was given the super-low rating (was it even lower a few days ago, or am I remembering it wrong?) and the pretty high number of votes and reviews on IMDb for a newly released Polish film. Aside from the turning-a-tragic-accident-into-a-conspiracy thing, does the film blame a particular group for it, or is it general fear-mongering to have Polish citizens be OK with the idea of the government controlling their every move, or what? And when you say "extensively air", what exactly does that mean? Did they play any other films in Warsaw at all? Did every theater show it?

Yikes, piano accompaniment. I love piano if somebody has great pieces to play on it or if it is combined with other instruments, but solo piano accompaniment for silent films I usually find to be uninspired tinkling, even if it's an OK score it becomes too monotonous for me after a while, I can take it well enough for shorter films but sitting through it for, like, 90 minutes it really starts to get on my nerves long before the end. Anyway, that's just me. There are people who apparently have a problem with avant-garde scores for silent films because they aren't period-appropriate. Me, I don't care about that (not being 120 years old, to actually have grown up during the silent movie period), and I love avant-garde scores for silent films if they are just decent enough. And for a film that itself is very avant-garde it is especially appropriate. Well, you have already seen the film so there is nothing more I can tell you to help you in your decision. 'La Folie du docteur Tube' is on my watchlist but I haven't seen it yet.

- just another film blog -

Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

You two should just get married already

Always get a strong homoerotic vibe while reading you two talk.

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Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Aw, cute, you sound so jelly!

- just another film blog -

Re: ¶ SWAP: 'In Our Time' (start of the Taiwanese New Wave, 1982)

Jay96 exposed

Favorite Films: