Freer and Sackler Galleries » Films

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Special Event: Fear at the Freer!

Learn about spooky objects in our collection, make your own Freer-inspired mask, and enjoy Japanese food for sale from the Tokyo in the City food truck. Then, get in the Halloween spirit with a screening of Ring (aka Ringu), the movie that inspired the American thriller The Ring, at 7 pm. Ring kicked off the J-horror craze. It begins with teenage friends Masami and Imako discussing the latest urban legend about a mysterious videotape: after watching it, people receive a phone call telling them that they only have seven days left to live. After Imako admits to having seen the tape—and dies days later—her aunt Reiko, a TV journalist, tracks down a copy and watches it herself. When her phone rings, she knows she only has seven days to solve the mystery and save her own life. “Ringu has a minimalist intensity that can stop the heart with a simple flash-cut or a well-timed fillip in the musical score” (Scott Tobias, The Onion AV Club). (Dir.: Hideo Nakata, Japan, 1998, 96 min. 35mm, Japanese with English… Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, October 31, 2014, 5:00 PM.

Dust in the Wind

In Hou's films, exile, like death, draws family members together as it casts them apart. Dust in the Wind is the story of two young people who quit school and move from their mountain village to find jobs in Taipei. They expect to marry, but typical of Hou's tender distance, we never see them being lovers; we see them being young, vulnerable, and extremely delicate. He finds work with a printer, she as a seamstress, but neither finds happiness or heart in Taipei. (Charmingly, she has brought along outline drawings of the feet of family members to buy them shoes.) Deep-focus views build a portrait of youth quietly adrift; in the long shots of the long journey to their green-hilled home, Hou's steady gaze speaks to all that they can no longer take for granted. Description by Judy Bloch. (1986, 109 min. 35mm, Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, November 2, 2014, 1:00 PM.

The Green, Green Grass of Home

This film is a key bridge between Hou’s first two commercial films and his later, more personal works. Hong Kong crooner Kenny Bee plays an idealistic teacher assigned to a remote rural village. Ostensibly at the helm of a romantic comedy, Hou steadfastly ignores the genre’s conventions and turns his attention from his leads to their pupils, a gaggle of distractingly cute children, and the serene beauty of the village surroundings. The film breezily floats by, warmed by a few conflicts—the kids unite to stop fishermen from dynamiting the river; the teacher courts a colleague, with predictable results—but what remains is not the plot, the romance, or the songs, but rather the essence of the place. From actors to amateurs, conventional script to naturalism, here Hou begins his escape from commercial cinema. Description by Jason Sanders. (1982, 90 min. 16mm, Mandarin with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, November 2, 2014, 3:30 PM.

World Premiere: Cut Out the Eyes

Xu Tong’s documentary presents a vibrant portrait of folk and popular culture in lnner Mongolia. Er Housheng is an itinerant performer presenting boisterous, musically infused epic poems recounting his life’s travails. A survivor of many hardships (the title provides a hint), he is a folk hero to rural audiences, who respond heartily to his roguish charisma and sung summations of universal human foibles. Description by Shannon Kelley. (Dir.: Xu Tong, China, 2014, 80 min. HDCAM, Mandarin with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, November 7, 2014, 7:00 PM.

The Boys from Fengkuei

Watch a clip.  Hou Hsiao-hsien’s fourth feature is strikingly emblematic of the shift in Taiwanese cinema toward greater naturalism and stories dealing with youth and provincial life. The film follows three bored teenagers who move from the small island of Fengkuei to the port of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. With sympathy and quiet humor, the film shows a whole social stratum dispossessed of the Taiwanese economic dream and wandering aimlessly. Chen Kuo-hou’s striking camerawork stresses the desolate beauty of the youths’ existence in Fengkuei and the more intense (but less secure) life of bustling Kaohsiung. The Baroque soundtrack perfectly underpins the picture’s involving style, aided by a central trio of performances that mingle exuberance and naturalism in equal measure (Derek Elley, London Film Festival). (1983, 102 min. 35mm, Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, November 9, 2014, 1:00 PM.

A Summer at Grandpa’s

While their mother is hospitalized, two city kids spend a summer in the countryside in this gentle, assured film, which along with The Boys of Fengkuei announced the arrival of a major directing talent. Bundled off with their uncle to their busy grandfather’s rural home, a young brother and sister try to adapt to their much slower surroundings, even trading in a remote-control toy car for a pet turtle. Riverside idylls, hallway races, and adolescent pranks fill the days, with many scenes seemingly culled from childhood memories—but this is no typically sunny summer’s tale. Off to the side remains a different, darker adult world, where thugs, madwomen, unwanted pregnancies, and even death lurk. “Hou manages the difficult task of maintaining a child’s point of view,” wrote J. Hoberman, “without ever seeming cute or unduly nostalgic.” A Summer at Grandpa’s is “a seductive but unsentimental montage … gentle, deeply humane, and totally assured,” noted Tony Rayns. With this film, Hou—and New Taiwanese Cinema—had… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, November 9, 2014, 3:30 PM.

DC Premiere: Black Coal, Thin Ice

Five years after a botched arrest for a grisly murder, an ex-cop on the skids stumbles back onto his old case. This time, fresh murders lead him to a young widow at a dry-cleaning shop. In a suspenseful third feature that garnered him the Golden Bear at the recent Berlinale, director Diao Yinan casts Fargo-like noir compulsion and doom in the wintry coal-belt of northern China. Here, danger slow burns beneath the icy frost, and whodunit becomes a phenomenological question as perplexing as a show of fireworks in bright daylight. Description by Cheng-Sim Lim. (Dir.: Diao Yinan, China, 2014, 106 min. D-Cinema, Mandarin with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, November 14, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Daughter of the Nile

A young woman and her brother float along the periphery of the Taipei underworld in this intriguing blend of gangster tale and introspective drama. Looking down on Taipei’s neon lights from her rural subdivision, the pretty Sao-Yang (pop star Yang Lin) spends her days caring for her little sister and grandfather. At night, she heads into the city to gather with her club-owning brother and his shoulder-padded friends for drinks, dinners, and random flirtations. A gang war may be brewing; sudden shootouts are interspersed with stylish karaoke sessions, homework, shifts at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and listening to Grandpa drone on about his lottery chances. (Grandpa is played by Li Tien-lu, a puppet master turned actor and later the subject and star of Hou’s The Puppetmaster.) Hou continually abandons the movieland glamorization of youth culture, where everyone’s a gangster, a hero, an angel, or a whore, to focus instead on the mundane, ordinary realities of being young, careless, and forever dreaming of… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, November 16, 2014, 2:00 PM.

Three Times

Watch a clip.  Three time periods, two lead roles, and one eternal love come together in Three Times, a Proustian film set to Hou Hsiao-hsien's intricate rhythms and becalmed beauty. The film moves across the history of Taiwan—and the arc of the director's career—to explore the memory of love in the best and worst of times. The first segment, "A Time for Love," opens in a 1960s pool hall, where the Platters are on the jukebox, the glamorous Shu Qi sports tight green pants, and a cool Chang Chen blows smoke in the air. Next, "A Time for Freedom" travels back to 1911, the year China gained independence. Shu now is a teahouse courtesan in love with Chang, a regular customer ready to join the revolution. This second episode is designed as a silent film (a decision engendered by the actors' struggles with classic Mandarin), complete with intertitles and accompanying music. Set in modern-day Taipei, the final segment, "A Time for Youth," follows Shu as a disheveled singer balancing the loves of a woman and a… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, November 21, 2014, 7:00 PM.

The Puppetmaster

Introduction and book-signing by Richard Suchenski, director of the Center for Moving Image Arts at Bard College and editor of Hou Hsiao-hsien The puppeteer Li Tien-lu (1909–1998) was one of Taiwan's official national treasures. Hou Hsiao-hsien showcased the old man's acting talents in such films as Dust in the Wind, where he played the incendiary Grandpa. In The Puppetmaster, Hou achieves a masterpiece of storytelling in recreating Li's life, which was set against tumultuous times that made art both impossible and essential. Born during the fifty-year occupation by Japan, Li honed the subtleties of his classical puppet craft amid the politics of censorship, just as he developed as an artist despite everyday pressures of family and poverty. As an intermittent narrator, Li recounts the kind of personal anecdotes from which Hou naturally builds his films, sumptuous with visual detail and, here, punctuated by stunning sequences of puppet performances. This is history filmed, to quote the moniker of Li's… Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, December 7, 2014, 2:00 PM.

Goodbye South, Goodbye

Watch a clip.  Journeying through southern Taiwan from one poorly conceived scam to another, thirty-something Kao, his teenage protégé Flathead, and their girlfriends Hsi and Pretzel are "gangsters" in name only. They spend more time falling asleep and playing Nintendo than experiencing glamorous shootouts or obscene wealth. More clueless failures than violent outcasts, they want to get rich quick but are too confused—or too human—to be any good at it. Taiwanese pop star Lim Giong (Flathead) contributes to the impressive soundtrack, but the landscape controls and frames the film. Viewed through train windows or alongside paved roads, it unveils the possibilities of routes that the characters remain hopelessly unable, or unwilling, to take. Description by Jason Sanders. (1996, 124 min. 35mm, Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Friday, December 12, 2014, 7:00 PM.

Flowers of Shanghai

Watch a clip.  To say Flowers of Shanghai was well received by critics is a vast understatement. Phillip Lopate called it "perfect, and one of the most beautiful films ever made"; Chuck Stephens deemed it "one of the greatest films of all time." In a Shanghai brothel circa 1890, an intimate gambling party is going on—a continuation of last night's events and a preview of tomorrow's. Here, men with money spend time away from arranged marriages, instead fraternizing with women who are expected to love them (for a price). Hou's normally still camera languorously, almost imperceptibly moves as we observe complex relationships that play out in stolen glances and subtle gestures. Fueled by opium on one side and economic need on the other, love blossoms and withers. Particularly affecting are sad-eyed Tony Leung as Master Wang and Michiko Hada as Crimson, the courtesan from whom he seems to be drifting away. Description by Judy Bloch. (1998, 130 min. 35mm, Shanghainese and Cantonese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Co-sponsor: New 35mm print courtesy Center for Moving Image Arts (CMIA). Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, December 14, 2014, 2:00 PM.

Millennium Mambo

Watch the trailer.  A Taipei youth culture of raves, techno music, and Ecstasy pills is distilled into trancelike luminescence in Millennium Mambo, shot by In The Mood for Love’s acclaimed cameraman Mark Lee Ping-bin. The glamorous Shu Qi pouts her way through the city’s neon nightclubs and hostess bars, accompanied by either her jealous DJ boyfriend or a much older, somewhat wiser gangster (Jack Kao). Drugs, dancing, and lovemaking fuel the plot, as does the heroine’s search for a way out of her ever-shrinking circles of associates. “Looking at the young friends around me, I find that their life cycle and rhythm move several times faster than in my generation,” notes Hou. “Like flowers, [they] fade almost immediately upon blooming.” With long takes that linger over colors, lights, and textures, Hou and Lee turn their look at youth into an abstract painting. Description by Jason Sanders. (2001, 119 min. 35mm, Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Seating for films is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditorium doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Sunday, December 21, 2014, 2:00 PM.