2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Saturday, September 07, 2002
Just some more quick notes on another early Hou Hsiao-hsien film that I saw this week at the Cinematheque (tonight begins the Frank Tashlin retrospective), his 1983 film Boys from Fengkuei, this film has much more in common with the early masterpiece A Summer at Grandpa's than it does with his earlier, commericial film The Green, Green Grass of Home. Ah Ching lives with his family in a rural province of Taiwan, in his late teens, Ah Ching is an unemployed, high-school dropout who basically hangs out in his small seaside village with his hoodlum friends, getting into trouble (including some gang-like fights); Ah Ching was formerly quite close to his baseball loving father, but the father took a baseball fastpitch to his head, and is now a brain-damaged mute who sits silently in his wicker chair all day. After a vicious fight, Ah Ching and his friends retreat to the beach, which includes two priceless, funny moments, Ah Ching and his friends playing on the beach, trying to drag the pants off one of them, and another when the four friends dance on the seawall to impress a girl (a very impressive shot, in this film Hou Hsiao-hsien begins to display his trademark long takes and precise, rich images and precise framings). After getting into another fight, which lands the friends in jail, Ah Ching and his friends move to the city of Kaioshung, and take an apartment. Ah Ching takes both his job and night studies seriously, and in the process, falls in love with his neighbor's live-in girlfriend, while his friends continue to screw around, hang out with hoodlums, and, eventually, quiting their job to work as a vendor selling music cassettes on the street. Growing increasingly alienated from his friends, Ah Ching bonds with his neighbor's girlfriend, especially after her boyfriend is fired from his job for stealing and goes to sea. When Ah Ching's father dies, Ah Ching and the girlfriend visit Fengkuei, but fail to bond. Soon afterwards, she leaves for Taipei; Ah Ching finds his friends on the street; their business is failing, and one of them is being inducted into the army. The film concludes with Ah Ching yelling at passerbys, hawking his friends tapes. Hou Hsiao-hsien achieves some naturalistic performances of aimless, contemporary youths (in some ways, the film reminded me of Goodbye, South, Goodbye), as well as a nice rythmn; their is a definite growth in his aesthetic between The Green, Green Grass of Home and A Summer At Grandpa's; there is a definite change in tone and style, maybe he was exposed to some European art cinema, the film is punctuated by stretches of Western, classical music as well as some lyrical flashbacks to Ah Ching's youth with his father. An interesting film.

I was kind of disappointed that I was not able to see Hou's first feature film, Cute Girl; David Bordwell and another professor were discussing it right in front of me and both agreed that it was hilarious, in a good way, not in the awful way that is The Green, Green Grass of Home.