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1 June - 7 July 2019: The Boys from Fengkuei


The Boys from Fengkuei
Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1983, 101 min
Mandarin & Taiwanese with English subtitles

"Among Hou’s strongest early films, The Boys from Fengkuei offers a portrait of aimless youth as an emblem of eighties Taiwan in transition and moving rapidly towards an uncertain future. Hou’s avid cinephilia imparts the film with a citational over-ripeness: the restless group of boys in the small seaside town recalling Fellini’s I Vitelloni, while their travels to the big glittering city echo Rocco and His Brothers, the same film the boys rush to see in a Taipei art house. Yet the Italian cinema overstated throughout the film is in many ways a distraction from Hou’s clear embrace of the spontaneous male ruffianism of Hawks and Scorsese and the transcendental everyday of Ozu and Malick. For all of its metacinematic charms, Boys from Fengkuei remains a milestone for giving first expression to the elliptical episodic narrative so central to Hou’s mature cinema and pointing towards that evocative sense, redolent throughout his greatest films, of the present moment as perfumed by the past it is about to become, with friendship and happiness and small victories revealed to be fleeting moments always about to be lost." – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our Taipei Stories programme