Flowers of Shanghai

Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Year Released: 1998
Rating: 0.5

Hou is a critical darling that has been gathering unquestionable praise; his approach, similar to Antonioni, forfeits audience interest in favor of detached, cerebral cinema. Shots run on for forever - it sits there, tired, bored - men and women smoke opium, drink tea, engage in routine conversations, everything has this marijuana-laced 'focus,' there's no rush to go anywhere. To be honest, I couldn't make heads or tails out of what the message is - a historical awareness of the political problems in China might help (I plead ignorance) - but I'm sure a lot of 'poetic' types will find themselves agog. (Yes, this is an almost word-for-word repeat of the review for Good Men, Good Women. What can I say: I'm not the one to turn to if you want a real analysis of Hou's output.)