1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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"Flowers of Shanghai"
1998
Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

The elegant brothels of 19th century Shanghai provide the setting for Hou Hsiao-hsien's mesmerizing examination of a time and place where rituals shaped the destinies of the beautiful "flower girls" as they tried to find security with their wealthy callers. "Elaborate rituals of opium pipes, feasts and gambling underpin the carnal intimacies and duplicities. Hou takes the conventions of geisha melodrama--the cruelty of sexual commerce, the women's debts, the madam's bossiness, the self-protective, two-faced nature of a courtesan's attachments--and strips down the genre to its essence" (Phillip Lopate, New York Times). Mandarin with English subtitles. Taiwan. 125 minutes.


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