Thursday, December 06, 2007

Haonan haonu (Hsiao-hsien Hou, 1995) aka Good Men. Good Women

Good Men, Good Women (Hsiao-hsien Hou, 1995)
Rating: 9.6

Good Men Good Women, is dedicated to political activists, Chiang Bi-Yu, Chung Hao-Tung, and all of the political victims of the 1950s. Rather than making a period biopic, Hou places his film in contemporary Taiwan allowing for a critique of both the old and new. The central character in the film is an actress by the name of Liang Ching (Annie Shizuka Inoh) who is starring in a biopic about Chiang Bi-Yu who left Taiwan for the mainland to join the anti-Japanese resistance during World War II, only to be arrested as Communists upon their return home. The film alternates back and forth between excerpts from the film within the film signified by black and white photography and Liang Ching struggling to overcome the pain brought on by the murder of her former criminal lover along with her drug addicted past. On top of this she begins receiving mysterious faxes that contain entries from her own diary, and is accused of infidelity with her own brother-in-law. Early on in the film Liang Ching explains through a voice-over that she feels she has become Chiang Bi-Yu and thus experiences the anxiety of two generations simultaneously. The parallels between the characters are evident as they face persecution as well as the death of their lovers, among other things. Liang Ching being haunted by her past further serves to perpetuate how events buried in the history of a nation can have far reaching consequences. Good Men, Good Women is perhaps Hou's most political, conventional, and possibly best film.

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