Three Times – Movie Review – Stylus Magazine

February 4th, 2006

Three Times – Movie Review – Stylus Magazine

There isn’t a better filmmaker than Hou Hsiao-hsien working anywhere in the world right now.

It is hard to argue with the above, and perhaps I would rate a few others in his class, like Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, or even Ann Hui, but Hou Hsiao Hsien (affectionately HHH) is definitely one of the most outstanding, if not the best, filmmaker these days.

My favorite movie of his is still Dust in the Wind but Three Times, his latest one, is high up there. Seen during the New York Film Festival in an amazing setting (thanks James for the tickets) – the movie breathed emotion, feelings, with an intensity – as if, a first glance of the world after years of being in coma. Struck with silence, beauty.

The first part bleeds nostalgia. Driven by a pair of songs like Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and, in particular a favorite of mine, Rain and Tears, one relives a past where – because nothing much happened – you live so much more aware and feelings are so much more intense. Resonating, still, and desperately grasping onto it. A time of friendship, camaraderie, growing up, deciding life. Critical juncture – choices that will set the structure of your future – but back then, it was just your gut guiding you. The lightness of being.

Two times; the second part. Set in the time before the Japanese take-over, shot in black and white, silence. Not until then do you realize the mediated world we live in, cinematic experience overthrown – equilibrium of senses off guard. It ironically feels more unmediated, by mediating it in a silent movie. The conjuring of images, sounds in your head – dialogues, intensity of speech, voice. Very, very, impressive, HHH. Show us why we care, why we should care, and show it good.

Catch it in the cinema if you get the chance.

Posted in movies

9 Responses

  1. Milo

    Unfortunately the closest I got to seeing Three Times was spotting Hou Hsiao-hsien walking past me on his way out of the fully-booked theater… but I’m pretty sure I’ll manage to see it real soon. Actually the only HHH film I’ve seen so far is Café Lumière.

  2. Loki

    cafe lumiere is, even for hhh standards, slow 🙂
    see if you can find dust in the wind. highly recommended.

  3. Yin

    Three Times DVD will arrive next week, can’t wait to beam it.
    If Milo email me his home address, I can send him a copy of Dust in the Wind.

  4. Loki

    yin, you found out a way to copy dust in the wind?

  5. Milo

    wow Yin, really?
    I’ve already managed to get my hands on Three Times, and Dust In The Wind should follow shortly I hope (but if that fails, I’d gladly take you up on your offer).

  6. Bingchun

    Three Times is by far the best Chinese language film I watched last year. Couldn’t finish watching cafe lumiere though because of the reason you said. 🙂 I have a copy of Dust in the Wind and will be happy to burn you one. Although I do think Dust is not as mature as Puppet Master or City of Sadness, there is something very endearing about it, like those little things you remembered from childhood.

  7. Yin

    sh*t! now that you mention it. There is this copy protection on that dvd. Well, that’s what copy protection is for isn’t it?
    anyway Milo, sorry to have “made you happy with a dead sparrow” 😉

  8. lokhin

    yin: can I have a copy of three times, you know my address 🙂

  9. Milo

    No problem Yin, a certain electronic mule got me a copy of Dust In The Wind yesterday (yay!)… Looking forward to watching both films later this week.

book and sword : gratitude and revenge

is the first novel written by Jin Yong. The protagonist is Chan Ka Lok, who is the leader of the Red Flower Society. The book title refers to Ka Lok being famous for being well-versed in culture and martial arts, but also for having to make a difficult ethical decision. My father named me and my brother after him.

The subtitle is from a poem Desiderata