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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:42 pm 
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This is the third time in almost two years that someone in NYC has screened the World Cinema Foundation restoration of the complete, uncut A Brighter, Summer Day from a 35mm print. Impressive because when I was living in Chicago, it seemed almost impossible to see this, after Rosenbaum and a few others raved about it in-print. (I think it was shown at the Chicago Film Festival back in the early '90s, but it may not have been the complete cut.) Fortunately, this time around will be a week-long screening, the others were pretty much one-offs.

I remember when Yang died back in 2007 because I was working in a newsroom that quarter. Bergman and Antonioni died earlier that summer on back-to-back days, which made a lot of waves, but Yang's was such an enormous loss - still in his 50's, and possibly still at his peak since Yi Yi was the last one he finished.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Looks like ABSD will be at the 'intimate' Gilman Theater in the EBMFC, at least on Friday when I'm going.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:37 pm 
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I think I've been in that theater. If it's the one I'm thinking about, it's got stadium seating, and because of the close proximity to the screen, the size of what you see is really good. It's possibly better if the smaller capacity decreases the chance of annoying/disruptive patrons. When I went, they had some trouble starting the film (some lights wouldn't turn off). Anyway, some guy behind me actually started telling everyone "I think [Edward Yang] doesn't want us to see this movie!" I'd like to think it was a joke, but his persistence and tone made him out as a complete flake.

FWIW, I saw it at a one-off screening at the Walter Reade in 2010 and it sold out fast. Even though it was four hours, there was no intermission - not sure if that'll be the case again, but be warned.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:11 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
Looks like The Terrorizers has been upgraded to 35mm.

Also, the press screening for A Brighter Summer Day was indeed sans intermission. Having seen it now (and it is the masterpiece everyone says it is), I'll concede that there's no good place for one; it would suffer from being interrupted. But still. My bladder held out for about 03:15, in case anyone is interested.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:31 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
Evidently this was a tough one. Another last-minute format change:
Film Society of Lincoln Center wrote:
Due to an ongoing legal matter, That Day, on the Beach will be screened in a 16mm print. Admission for these screenings will be FREE. If you have already purchased a ticket, please see the box office for a refund.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:12 am 
Perkins Cobb wrote:
Evidently this was a tough one. Another last-minute format change:
Film Society of Lincoln Center wrote:
Due to an ongoing legal matter, That Day, on the Beach will be screened in a 16mm print.

Sad news, but on the other hand, it shows how insightful Yang was in his views on the relationship between art and business.

I enjoyed seeing A Confucian Confusion and Mahjong on the big screen. A Confucian Confusion--minor Yang, but also perhaps his best film, if that paradox is in any way useful--had more readable subtitles than the VCD I'm familiar with.

The Winter of 1905 wasn't great, or good (it worked slightly as a Norwegian Wood-esque tale), but for a Yang completist such as myself, it was a most welcome part of the retrospective.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:04 am 
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Yang's third full feature is known in English as The Terrorizers, Terrorizers, The Terrorizer, The Terrorists, etc. Does anyone know what the Chinese title translates to? I'm not sure what to make of the English titles. There's only one obvious "terrorizer" in the film (the femme fatale who makes the prank calls). Perhaps Yang is likening the self-interested behavior of all these Taipei dwellers to terrorism? Or perhaps it's just an awkward translation, like The Time to Live and the Time to Die--which translates to the more modest (and thus more appropriate) Childhood Memories.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:01 pm 
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The Chinese title literally means "The Terrorist(s)". As nouns in Chinese language don't have plural forms you have to watch the film to figure out how many terrorists it meant for.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:36 pm 
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jonah.77 wrote:
Yang's third full feature is known in English as The Terrorizers, Terrorizers, The Terrorizer, The Terrorists, etc. Does anyone know what the Chinese title translates to? I'm not sure what to make of the English titles. There's only one obvious "terrorizer" in the film (the femme fatale who makes the prank calls).

Well, the White Chick is part of some illegal group / gang that the police bust up at the start and
[Reveal] Spoiler:
our hero does go on a killing spree at the end
but I believe the title is more directly related to Yang's conception of everyday emotional terrorism, and his comment that "the bombs we set in each other are ticking away." There's probably half a dozen such bombs that go off in the course of the movie.

The English version is a clunky title, whichever one you chose - I first encountered it in '87 ('88?) as "The Terrorizer" - but I can understand why you'd want to steer away from the word "terrorist" if you want to convey Yang's idea, since that's got such a narrow definition in English and, as you point out, the film isn't about terrorists.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:53 pm 
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zedz wrote:
THE TERRORIZER

One of the greatest films of the 1980s, Yang's cool pseudo-thriller lurks in the shadows of Godard more than those of Antonioni (but there's still a fantastic sensitivity to alienated urban spaces and places), and it's a seemingly looser, more unruly film than the precise Taipei Story. The appearance of unruliness is carefully contrived, however: this film is incredibly carefully constructed.

There are three discrete plot strands:
1) a young photographer breaks up with his girlfriend after stealing shots of a couple of young criminals escaping from a police shootout and becoming obsessed with the woman he obliquely rescues.
2) This young woman (the White Chick) returns to her mother's apartment and is locked in, where she amuses herself by wreaking havoc on the man who gave her gang away to the police by making prank phone calls.
3) A downtrodden scientist makes the most of an opportunity at work when his section chief dies; meanwhile, at home, his wife, starved for inspiration in her stifling marriage, faces writer's block. One day, the White Chick calls her up. . .

This is only the start of the intricate story, but I don't want to give too much away. That phone call, however, has extraordinary, catastrophic repercussions.

I've just watched it, but I'm going to have to watch it again; and not pause it. And shut everything else out, because I certainly didn't pick up on everything.

It may be more 'my bag' than 'Yi Yi', but I think that even if I do appreciate it better the second, or perhaps third time, he'll be more somebody to admire, than to love. Certainly I can appreciate his cinematic skills; and his pacing, and control of moods, and tones. And his structuring.

I'm not going to read your detailed dissection until after that second, or third watch, which hopefully will be sooner, rather than later.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:49 pm 
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With the delays for A Brighter Summer Day, I'm just wondering: are there similarly intractable "rights issues" with the two features Yang made between Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi, A Confucian Confusion and Mahjong?

I suppose these works--which I believe were US/Taiwan coproductions--might be considered films maudits because they never received a fraction of the attention or praise of the films that preceded and followed them. Indeed, I can't recall anyone mentioning them at all for years. They came up in the press surrounding Yi Yi if only because they were then Yang's most recent works, but subsequently they seem to have fallen into a black hole of non-distribution and -reception. For those who have seen them, are they clearly inferior to Yang's major works? Are they without interest? (I refuse to watch the VCD rips that are floating about, just because the quality is so shoddy.)

It's hard, though, to distinguish the neglect of these films from the general neglect that nearly all of Yang's films have suffered from in the digital era. :(


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:35 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
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Read in another group:

"Uplink released Mahjong (as "Couples") and A Confucian Confusion (as エドワード・ヤンの恋愛時代 –"Edward Yang's Age of Love") on dvd (with Japanese subtitles only) but both seem to be out of print now."

Apparently used copies might be available on Amazon Japan.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Frustrating, I remember a decade or so when this seemed impossible to find outside of a crappy VCD I refused to view. Then around 2010 or so, not long after I moved to NY, they screened the Film Foundation's restoration several times around here, at Lincoln Center (possibly twice?), at BAM and I believe at least one other place. And since then nothing - had I known, I would've caught more than one screening.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:43 pm 
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It does seem as though many of the films of Hou and Yang--with the notable exception of A Brighter Summer Day--have been on DVD in Japan only. (Ironically, Brighter Summer Day was largely Japanese-financed.) Unfortunately, that's not very helpful if one doesn't read Japanese, although chunks of Mahjong are apparently in English.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:02 pm 
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jonah.77 wrote:
With the delays for A Brighter Summer Day, I'm just wondering: are there similarly intractable "rights issues" with the two features Yang made between Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi, A Confucian Confusion and Mahjong?

I suppose these works--which I believe were US/Taiwan coproductions--might be considered films maudits because they never received a fraction of the attention or praise of the films that preceded and followed them. Indeed, I can't recall anyone mentioning them at all for years. They came up in the press surrounding Yi Yi if only because they were then Yang's most recent works, but subsequently they seem to have fallen into a black hole of non-distribution and -reception. For those who have seen them, are they clearly inferior to Yang's major works? Are they without interest? (I refuse to watch the VCD rips that are floating about, just because the quality is so shoddy.)

It's hard, though, to distinguish the neglect of these films from the general neglect that nearly all of Yang's films have suffered from in the digital era. :(

I went into some detail about both films on the forum a long time ago. Both films are terrific, but they're somewhat more problematic than the obvious masterpieces that surround them. They're both comedies, but very dark and complex ones. A Confucian Confusion seems to be striving to be the most narratively complicated comedy ever made, and it can appear off-putting at first encounter, but - like Tati, who's the patron saint of the movie along with Preston Sturges - it plays marvellously with a decent audience. I liked it and respected it when I first saw it on a crappy VCD rip, but I've loved it since I saw it live and breathe in a real cinema.

Mahjong is a doggedly problematic film. Partly it's deliberate, as Yang is making a film that's structurally a comedy but which includes some of the darkest stuff he ever put on film (there's a scene late in the film where the mood shift is positively terrifying) - but partly it's down to bad casting. The unknown English actor who was a last minute replacement in a major role is stunningly awful, and he mars every scene he's in (the French component, Virginie Ledoyen, is superb, however), plus there's an American woman who's not much better but whose role is mercifully small. So a film that was tonally inconsistent by design (and this aspect of the film is a bold and largely successful experiment) is additionally saddled with unintentional tonal inconsistencies that are extremely distracting. Nevertheless, a very great film.


Last edited by zedz on Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:04 pm 
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zedz, I initially made my posts in the Brighter Summer Day thread because a search somehow didn't turn up this thread on Yang. I have now read your posts, and they are probably the best things I've read on this forum--and not just about Yang's films.

Sturges and Tati are pretty heady influences, especially for a guy whose other commonly-cited reference points are Antonioni, Godard, and Pasolini. although I'd agree with your assessment that Yang's best works are more intricate (structurally and emotionally) than almost anything his predecessors did. I was particularly impressed by the way the groundwork for the misleading narration at the "climax" of Terrorizers was carefully laid down by editing patterns in earlier scenes. but to say more I'd first have to revisit my notes on the film--and watch it again.

in the meantime: thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:23 pm 
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Finally watched the Terrorozers Blu-Ray. Very fiercely dark film (tonally, not visually), reminded me a bit of Lady From Shanghai in terms of its mood. Definitely not a film that you can follow if you let your attention drift.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:54 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
I've seen The Terrorizers about three times now but I feel like I still have so much to glean from it. While it's not quite the life-changing masterpiece that I consider Yi Yi (the only other Yang I've seen, sadly), the film has a kind of beautifully propulsive pace to it, to the rhythm of the cutting and the patterning of shots and juxtapositions with sound or music -- it's very much the work of a younger director with all its brash, confident energy, with Godard being just as much an influence as Antonioni. I don't know how else to describe it except that there's a kind of musical, percussive brio to the way the film's edited that I just found stunning. But if The Terrorizers is akin to a virtuoso free-jazz performance, Yi Yi is like a masterful, stately final sonata. Man, I really need to see A Brighter Summer Day (and the rest), but I want to wait until it's available in a better form.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:39 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:25 am
Most of us do, I think, but it seems to be a long wait...


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:46 pm 
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Considering how long it's taking for A Brighter Summer Day, maybe we should start lobbying now for Taipei Story, Yang's first masterpiece. It's so good that I think it's also a contender for Hou Hsiao-hsien's best film.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:47 pm 
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I think HHH and Yang's films seem pretty different. ;-) (I personally prefer HHH, by a bit, at least)


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:00 pm 
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I presume he's referring to how Hou stars in the film.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:09 pm 
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Taipei Story should definitely be next. I'm glad I caught it at Lincoln Center a few years back because I've yet to come across it anywhere else. A Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi understandably get the most attention (they tower over so many other films, never mind Yang's filmography), but this is a masterpiece that's sorely in need of wider exposure.


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:58 am 
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swo17 wrote:
I presume he's referring to how Hou stars in the film.

Well, in that case, Taipei Story is the only (feature) film in which HHH appeared that I have ever heard of. ;-}


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 Post subject: Re: Edward Yang
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:43 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
swo17 wrote:
I presume he's referring to how Hou stars in the film.

Well, in that case, Taipei Story is the only (feature) film in which HHH appeared that I have ever heard of. ;-}

There's also Jia's I Wish I Knew. He has pretty good taste in directors!


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