Goodbye, South Goodbye (1996)

Dir. Hsiao-Hsien Hou

I wouldn’t recommend this to any idiots, although some of you might like this. (I’d guess Kevin has the best chance followed by Penny, Grace, Mitchell and Chris.) But with so many films to see, this is something you can pass on unless you’re a big fan of Hou. (I’m a fan.)

The story follows Kao (Jack Kao), a middle-level organized crime man, as he travels with his two partners, “Flatty” (Giong Lim) and his girlfriend, “Pretzel” (Annie Shizuka-Inoh), as they travel around Taiwan. Kao’s dream is to start a restaurant in Shanghai (or somewhere in mainland China), but he’s not making a good go at it. In a way, this is like a very tame version of Mean Streets or Casino. I must admit that I had trouble figuring who was who in this, and sometimes determining who was talking was difficult. (In conversations, names were being thrown out, and I wasn’t always sure which character they were referring to.)

Hou is a very deliberate director, someone who likes letting the camera linger on mundane activity. In this film there’s a lot of driving scenes where the camera just lingers on the characters as they…well, drive. Hou also seems to love shadows and light, and seeing how he uses them has been something I look forward to.

But I didn’t get much out of the story. I did like the ending where the protagonists crash and get stuck in a field. It seemed to perfectly sum up the whole film.

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