Sheila O’Malley writes:The visuals are, quite literally, overwhelming. There were shots that were so beautiful I practically could not take it in, in one glance: it’s like trying to “take in” the Grand Canyon. Thankfully, Hou’s camera is not of the quick-cut variety. He lets scenes breathe, and the shots are very long. I had time to settle in, to look up at the misty ranks of mountains in the background, the vast space in the foreground, the line of trees reflected perfectly in the dawn-blue water, the row of fog breaking up a vertical cliff of green trees. Nature photography? Well, yes, kind of. But it’s part of the story and the atmosphere. This is one of the most beautiful looking films this year, or any year.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien is such a world-class visionary filmmaker (the hyperbole fits) and yet it’s been relatively rare that his stuff makes it to our shores. The Assassin won him the Best Director award at Cannes, thrilling news for those of us who love his work and were already eagerly anticipating The Assassin….(read more)