- Flowers of Shanghai
- Hai shang hua
- Hou Hsiao-hsien
- December 3, 2020 through December 9, 2020
“Perfect ... One of the most beautiful films ever made.”Phillip Lopate, New York Times
Ravishing visuals and remarkable rigour are hallmarks of Taiwanese eminence Hou Hsiao-hsien’s exquisite 1998 masterpiece, set in several ornate brothels (or “flower houses”) in late-19th-century Shanghai. There, amidst the opium haze, courtesans (“flower girls”) and their gentlemen callers enact elaborate rituals of commerce, courtship, and romance. Hou tells the story of five such “flowers”; his sensitivity to the social position and inner emotional lives of these women recalls the great geisha films of Japanese masters Mikio Naruse and Kenji Mizoguchi. Shooting entirely within the studio, Hou employs long takes, breathtaking compositions, subtle camera movements, and blackout transitions to conjure up a lavish, insular lost world of extraordinary intricacy. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Michiko Hada star. Flowers of Shanghai capped a string of remarkable works in the 1990s that saw Hou widely recognized as one of the most important directors alive. It streams here in a new 4K restoration.
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“From The Puppetmaster to Flowers of Shanghai (masterworks both), Hou was the deepest, richest, and most daring filmmaker working anywhere.”John Powers, Vogue
“The world’s greatest narrative filmmaker.”J. Hoberman, Village Voice