Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Taiwan Cinema

 Taiwan is a hot spot.  China covets it and threatens harm to all of us who give it any support.  I believe Taiwan's cinematic history deserves support.  This post is not comprehensive, just reflecting some films seen over the past few years.  The film series that prompted me to do this blog was "Wave Makers" (2023).  A negative factor was that the movie "Gravity" distorted reality to avoid offending China and to gain admission to the Chinese market.

The Wave Makers is a political series, without any reference to the obvious hot issue of China relations.  They may have decided that to get on a streaming service they should avoid offending China.  The series does cover other issues such as the environment, immigration, and sexual harassment at work.  Sexual harassment had become an unspoken issue in Taiwan.

 Ying-Hsuan Hsieh played a politician who had recently lost an election, but was highly regarded as an advisor.  How can a loser help, but she does, partly learning from mistakes.  She was also in Dear Ex playing a widow whose dead husband left his money to a gay lover.

Jaag Huang played another political advisor.   She appeared in "Life of Pi" (2012)

Gingle Wang played the girl who had  been harassed.  She also appeared in "The Falls" (2021)  and  "Light  the Night" (2021).

Leon Dai played the sexual harasser.  He also appeared in "Yi Yi" (2000) and "The Assassin" (2015).  "Yi Yi" achieved international attention.

"A Sun" (2019) is a tough story to watch as a family deals with bad breaks.  The Writer Director Mong-Hong Chung had been a cinematographer including for this film. 

"Dear Ex" (2019) is about a widow and her son who learn their ex husband/father when he died left his (limited) fortune to his male lover.  The film is about a reconciliation.

"A Thousand Good Nights" (2019)  A series about an abandoned girl picked up by a station master.  There is a mystery there, but the focus of the story is a tour of Taiwan.  Bor-jen Chen played the adoptive father, also in "Light the Night"  (2021).

"Warriors of the Rainbow:  Seedique Bale" (2011) combined two parts to qualify for Oscars.  It was about indigenous fight off the Japanese.  The indigenous were headhunters believing they had to have an enemy's head to cross the rainbow bridge to the spirit world.  The Japanese controlled most of Taiwan between 1895 and the end of WWII 1945. 

"American Girl"  (2022) about a girl living in America returns to Taiwan during the Sars epidemic.

Man in Love (2021)  Roy Chiu plays an uneducated gangster courting a woman with the hope to leaving his criminal life.

"The Post Truth World" (2023) is a mystery thriller involving a hostage situation.

Light the Night (2021)  Mainline Chinese write negative reviews and lower rating   Welsh/Mandarin actor  The series consists of 24 episodes of approximately 45 minutes each, starts off with the discovery of a dead body.  The rest of the series is flashbacks gradually revealing relationships and motivations and the attempt to unravel the mystery.  Lots of complications.   It is well done.  A very lot of smoking from many characters.  

"Eye of the Storm" (2023) Just became available as I was finishing this blog.  Set at a Taipei hospital with the onset of the SARS epidemic.  Everyone is stuck inside the office with lots of sub plots.  At the end the hospital survives, but not every character.

Ang Lee is perhaps the most famous Taiwan film maker.  Like other Taiwanese film makers he wrote, directed and produced.  Raised and educated in Taiwan he went to America to study film making studying with Spike Lee.  After graduating he spent a few years as a house husband and then struggled.  His wife encouraged him.  Won Oscars as director for "Life of Pi" (2012) and "Brokeback Mountain" (2005).   His Mandarin films include "The Wedding Banquet" (1993), "Eat Drink Man Woman" (1994), "Lust, Caution" (2007) and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2010).  English language films include "Sense and Sensibility" (1995), "The Ice Storm" (1997), "Ride with the Devil" (1999) and "Billy Lynn's Half Time Walk" (2016).
Despite the political factor (or maybe because of it) Taiwan has much to offer the world including their film makers.  We need to understand their dilemma that affects us.

A book about Taiwan was an earlier blog selection:

I have seen each of the movies mentioned.

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