Lovers in dangerous times – a retrospective of acclaimed Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien

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Shu Qi and Chang Chen in Three Times.

For some film buffs, the only way to see a movie is in big-screen, 35mm projection. For those fans, and fans of international cinema in general, Cinematheque’s current retrospective of a contemporary filmmaker is a major event.

Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien, which is currently touring internationally, includes all 17 features that the director has released to date, as well as shorts and important collaborations.

Considered by many to be one of the most important and influential filmmakers of the past three decades, Hou Hsiao-hsien is an innovative artist whose movies can best be described (as the Cinematheque’s press release eloquently puts it) as “contemplative, deeply humanistic” and “visually accomplished.”

Take, for instance, Three Times.

Critical consensus is that the 2005 movie is a masterpiece. It regularly appears on Best-of-the-Decade lists. A triptych of love stories from three periods in Taiwanese history, it roams from 1966 to 1911 and, finally, 2005, with each story featuring the same two actors.

The film’s “splendour comes from the way Hou contemplates time within each chapter,” as a description on Cinematheque’s website puts it.

“This is why cinema exists,” said the New York Times’ A. O. Scott.

And Peter Bradshaw, on the Guardian, writes, “This is connoisseur’s cinema – but it’s a connoisseurship worth cultivating.”

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A scene from Three Times (2005).

Besides Three Times, highlights of the retrospective (on until March 11 at Cinematheque, 1131 Howe St. in downtown Vancouver) of this leading figure of Taiwan’s New Wave include Flowers of Shanghai (1998), A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1985), A City of Sadness (1989), and Café Lumière (2003), as well as the film many consider his best – 1993’s The Puppetmaster.

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A scene from Flowers of Shanghai.

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A scene from Millennium Mambo.

For more info, show times and tickets, visit the Cinematheque website.

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