Last week, David and I spent three days seeing Hou Hsiao-Hsien in Los Angeles. He was there to promote his new film, The Assassin (the stills shown above are from the film.)
We started the week at The Academy on Tuesday night. We met up with David's friend, Trygve (a director who was visiting from Norway and wanted to attend the event with us.) It's always exciting when The Academy announces a new line-up of film related events that are not only affordable, but also open to the public. These type of events don't happen often enough, but just the previous week the Academy interviewed Guillermo del Toro, which I wrote about here, and when we scooped up the Del Toro tickets we also got tickets to see Hou Hsiao-Hsien.
I had never seen "Director Hou's" (as they called him) films. David had raved about his work and I was looking forward to the talk. Between bits of conversation, they showed clips from a handful of his films. I absolutely loved what I saw. Colors. Full frames of perfectly composed images. A moment captured on screen. A painterly tableau. It quickly got me wanting to see more.
One of the gems of conversation from the evening was when Director Hou said, "The script is only a gateway. The script allows you to enter the world. Once you enter the world, you throw the script away." Hollywood focuses so much on script and story. This was an extremely refreshing point of view that goes back to the early, pre-industrial days of the movies when the filmmakers, such as D. W. Griffith, rarely bothered to write a script.
On our way out of The Academy, I noticed a very small group had formed. Director Hou, and his long time cinematographer, Mark Lee Ping Bing (who had joined him on stage for the second half of the conversation), were signing autographs and posing for photos. I ran with my copy of Hou Hsiao-Hsien (an Austrian Film Museum publication) and tapped Director Hou gently on the shoulder and asked if he would please sign the book. He was extremely gracious and nodded at both David and I after signing. I also managed to corner Mark Lee Ping Bing and asked him to please sign the book as well. He worked on one of my favorite films, In The Mood for Love (another must see if you haven't seen it!) It is usually extremely difficult to get autographs or photos at The Academy so David and I were very happy that they were kind enough to sign the book for us.
The next evening we went to The Academy's Linwood Dunn theatre to see Hou Hsiao-Hsien Presents Amarcord. (Yay! More $5 films and talks that are open to the public.) Director Hou introduced the film. I hadn't seen this film by Fellini yet but for the first hour of the film, I couldn't stop laughing. It was a wonderful film (I love Fellini) and if you haven't seen it, you need to.
A few days later we went to Laemmle's The
Interview: Hou Hsiao-hsien with Shu Qi and Chang Chen
The Assassin – first look
The Mystery Of Hou Hsiao Hsien’s The Assassin