The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, June 15-21

  Dust-in-the-Wind

Dust in the Wind (1986)
Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
A camera is mounted to the front of a small train as it combs through lush, jungly hills in rural Taiwan, following the terrain long enough for the physical location to come to acquire a power of expression that exceeds the mere prettiness of nature, which, under the gaze of cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing, is nonetheless exceptionally pretty. This scene, grasped in a single shot, memorably opens Dust in the Wind. For all its earthiness, this opening also luxuriates in an otherworldly zone, carried along by an impossibly simple gracefulness and a gentle, soporific effect. As the camera roams forward in space, it also seems to take us backwards in time, inaugurating us into the work of memory (memories belonging to writer Wu Nien-jen) whose delicate fan will unfold across the span of the film. As a film of remembrance, a memoir of youth, Dust is also a story about adolescent love, family and separation, and the multiform gulf—spiritual, social, material—between town and country. For Hou Hsiao-Hsien, this was probably the film that cemented his place among the most important of living filmmakers. Michael Blum (June 18, 2:30pm; June 25, 2pm at MoMA’s Mark Lee Ping-Bing series)

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