Dr. Kate Liu and Dr. Wenchi Lin
Talks by two contemporary Taiwanese film scholars
2PM, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
397 – 1873 East Mall
University of British Columbia
Wenchi Lin. The Subtle Complexity of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Poetics
The emergent studies of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s poetics have mainly been cinematography oriented, just as most of the earlier formalist approaches to his films. The aspects of sound and editing are unfortunately neglected and no satisfactory argument of what David Bordwell calls “the poetics of the overarching form” of Hou’s films has been presented yet. This article contends that Zhu Tien-wen’s notion of “subtle complexity” (Miwei) may be a good term to describe the governing principle of the overarching form of Hou’s films: a consistent attempt to simultaneously provide multiple layers of meaning in his films, including the personal, the social/historical/national/urban, the existential, and the (self-reflexively) cinematic. The exemplary use of sound in Boys from Fenguei and Café Lumière as well as the editing of A Time to Live and A Time to Die, Dust of Wind, and City of Sadness is discussed to demonstrate their significant functions in Hou’s poetics. A careful examination of the many symbolic meanings of “puppet” in The Puppetmaster provides a closer look into the subtle complexity of Hou’s poetics.
Kate Liu. Construction of Identity and Home in the Space of Flows in Three Recent Taipei City Films
With three recent Taiwanese films– Love Go Go , The Personals , and Bird Land —as examples, I will analyze how recent Taipei films (as part of the so-called New New Taiwanese cinema) try to capture and respond to Taipei’s ever-increasing speed of flows in comic, self-reflexive and collage styles. In some comic but poignant manners, the three films show urban migrants either isolated in their small apartments, or drifting in transitory and segmental relations in various urban spaces of flows—e.g. the commercial spaces of beauty salon, bakery and tea house, city traffic and highway, and the information network of mass media. Alienation, transitory relations and even dangers in the space of flows, however, are not the cause for despair; I will analyze the three strategies the films use to seize the flows and make it home, or to make meaningful communication possible in chance encounter: 1. mediated communication; 2. flâneurial looks; 3. self-reflexive use of signs.