Episode #65: A Brighter Summer Day
Listen to Episode 65 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.
SUMMARY - A Brighter Summer Day follows 14 year-old Xiao Si’r (played by Chang Chen) as he navigates all aspects of life during the summer of 1960. He is attending night school which is full of young gang members and finds himself getting heavily involved with them. Throughout the summer he deals with various issues with his family, school life, friends, girls and rival gangs.
Screenplay by Hung Hung, Mingtang Lai, Alex Yang and Edward Yang; Directed by Edward Yang, and released in Taiwan on July 27, 1991.
This is our second 4 hour movie of the year and this one has a much different atmosphere.
There are a lot of moving parts at play, but somehow it feels a little bit slower than "The Beautiful Troublemaker."
There are a lot of characters weaving in and out of the story, most of them played really well by young children.
The lighting in the cinematography does one of two things: Either it is extremely flat lighting...
...or characters are put into deep shadow.
It's also interesting to see how the movie can be both immersive and voyeuristic at the same time. Several scenes are shot from the other side of a door where people are not visible.
The segment of the city where this movie takes place feels very alive and vibrant.
There are side stories that maybe didn't make full sense to us as we're not completely aware of the political circumstances. Also we might be missing some things in translation, but generally we got the impact.
The ending of the story is quite something and overall the movie didn't quite resonate with us as much as we hoped.
Awards Talk: It had several film festival showings and awards. Among them was the Tokyo International Film Festival where it was Nominated for the Tokyo Grand Prix and won the Special Jury Prize. At the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan, it won Best Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay. It was nominated for several more: Best Actor, Actress (x2), Director, Cinematography, Art Direction, Makeup/Costume Design, and Sound Recording.
TRUE CRIME & POP CULTURE
This week's movie was based on a true crime story. Nikki outlines some of the key points of that impactful moment in Taiwan's history - https://inf.news/en/taiwan/801210329535148ca9c49d94e2f651a5.html
Since this didn't release in America, here's what most of you would have been watching when this movie was released:
and we talk a little more about Baghdad Cafe, which saw its last episodes this night
Bagdad Cafe - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098746/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_1
On to music, Here are your Billboard Bottom 5 Songs for the week of July 27, 1991
100. The Rembrandts - Someone - Yup, they had music before "Friends."
99. Alice Cooper - Hey Stoopid - Yup, he still had new music in the '90s.
98. Alias - Perfect World - From the "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" soundtrack
97. Fred Schneider - Monster
96. LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
RANKINGS & RATINGS
Nikki 1-5 star scale - 4 out of 5
Jon 0-4 star scale - 3 out of 4
Would you watch it again? - Honestly, the four hour running time was noticeable at times, so if we were to watch it again we would go for a shorter version first, if possible. Still, there are likely scenes or interactions that would leave a different impression on a second viewing. There are plenty of details and a lot of relationships weaving throughout this story and catching every nuance would be tough in one go.
If you want to watch A Brighter Summer Day, as of this recording in May 2022, it’s available on Criterion Channel, Kanopy, Digital Rental, DVD. Check your local listings.
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Join us next time for The Summer My Father Grew Up available on YouTube