Emotion, both authentic and synthetic, in the films of the Taiwanese New Wave master.
Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Good Men, Good Women (1995) was the first film to have such a devastating emotional impact on me that I had to hide my face from my fellow spectators to avoid setting off a sanitation panic. I’m sorry to admit my reaction was at least partially brought on by the comedown from the MDMA I had indulged in at a Goa Trance club in Brixton the previous evening. MDMA provides a momentary rush of global solidarity, which at that time in London was manifested in the sharing of water bottles with total strangers and, I assume, a lot of chemically-enhanced sex. The morning after was rough. The love of your fellow dancer was replaced by the disdain for your fellow commuter, and the knowledge that the glow had been utterly synthetic rolled in with a forecast of heavy depression. My memory of strobe-lit celebrants with pinhole eyes and whistles in their mouths fit well with the contemporary half of Good Men, Good Women, which edged Hou’s cinema into a present of neon nights and fuzzy dawns.[ Read More ]