A staggering work of art which features a rich panoply of themes related to cultural identity and community. Novelistic in the vast network of characters and relationships it traverses, A Brighter Summer Day is richly textured, allegorical examination of the people of Taiwan, told through the displaced and fractured nodes of a community which lacks common, collective identity. Through the lens of impressionable youth, emotionality is juxtaposed with rationality, the former intrinsically synthesizing with alienation and despondence, inevitably breeding aggression and violence due to an environment which provides little stability or recourse. Parents pine for their past lives on the mainland while the youth grow alienated by their parents diaspora. Lacking direction they cling to facile notions of community such as street gangs and school politics, similarly to their adult counterparts who themselves now cling to their foregone past. Adrift and isolated, the youth in many ways symbolize Taiwan, shaped by a litany of culture influences yet lacking any identity themselves. This environment breeds a dangerous naivety about consequences and the lack of balance necessary between egoism and altruism, emotionality and rationality, which inevitably ends in one of the most staggering moments of tragedy in the history of cinema.. Grand in scope, A Brighter Summer Day's examination of cultural identity and diaspora through the impressionable, innocent lens of youth is universal theme and yet A Brighter Summer Day is also very specific to a certain space and time in Taiwanese history, empathetic in its investigation of aggression and profuse in providing opportunities for appreciation, analysis, and introspection.
Engulfed by a cryptic yet compelling ethos in which the larger forces of social transformation in China or expressed though the intimacy of its central characterization, Suburban Birds is a stunning debut feature from Qiu Sheng in which space and time are malleable forces used to explore the beauty, mystery, and melancholy related to the human experience and our larger relationship with the natural world. Enigmatic in that it refuses to define the events of its story in any way which gives the audience a facile sense of clarity through denouement, Suburban Birds rests at the fulcrum of introspection in which indecision and contemplation are central nodes for discovery, and the intangible nature of memory serves as a complex but vital tool for navigation. A meditative experience, the pathos of its central protagonist is richly textured, providing a expansive network of potential commentary and discourse related to sexual repression, social transformation, industrialization, and self-worth. Intimate yet expansive, aesthetically stunning, and thematically complex, Suburban Birds carries obvious similarities to other notable contemporary filmmakers from the region like Jia and Tsai yet it stands on its own, being a fantastic debut effort and precisely the type of work which reinvigorates my passion and love of the medium.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.