Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Assassin


2015, Taiwan/China/Hong Kong, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Coming immediately on the heels of Come Drink With Me, Hou's film was almost shocking in is use of aspect ratio: gone, at least in the early going, is the wonderful width of the Shawscope frame, in favour of the Academy frame, although this quickly creates a sense of intimacy that's key to the film's atmosphere (and which proves quite effective even used outdoors). The atmosphere and texture are key here; the narrative is tricky to grasp, especially on a first viewing, and I found the brief bursts of action relatively confusing, whereas the use of light and framing are often hypnotic, with a colour palette that sometimes recalls Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, perhaps because both directors were interested in the effects of natural light.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States