i think i saw this between age 17 to 19, and though i’ve still only seen it once, at that time, i considered this “my favorite” film. That was a period of time when i used film to learn and study the world. The one that came closest during that time was ‘Still Walking’ by Kore-eda.
this film remains as the only one i haven’t seen by Hao, for the same reason i haven’t seen Wang Kar-Wai’s martial arts film ‘the grandmaster’: their methods are too far detached from reality for me. :(
..but one day i’ll be less picky, able to be a kid again, and enjoy these two films. I’m sure they’re both very very special, given that these both were their last films (so far!). It’s great for them both to make something they enjoyed as a kid, when they are at their oldest age.
half-way through, second viewing, last viewed (if ever viewed) 10+ years ago:
Hou XiaoXian directs a film about his own childhood, using his own memories, trying his best to portray it realistically (and objectively), all in his own unique film-style. Maybe a childhood event is depicted. Maybe a story (within a story) is told by one of his many siblings, or his parents, of their own lives, with content so real it feels as if it came from an interview.…
Whereas Hao’s later ‘good women, good men’ expresses his team’s feelings and thoughts of Taiwan’s history through the feelings of and impacts on a single character, ‘a city of sadness’ expresses through the impact on a single large family, providing an allegory for each character. In addition, the entire historical narrative is explicitly covered, requiring the bit of extra time to do so. This is quite the grand historical allegorical story of a family going through turbulent political times.