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The Boys from Fengkuei


Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien. 1983, 99 mins. 35mm. With Doze Niu, To Tsung-hua, Lin Hsiao-ling, Chang Shih. Three teens from the Penghu Islands, in pre-adult limbo before their compulsory military service, travel from their fishing village to Kaohsiung, the second-largest city in Taiwan, where they find part-time employment. This coming-of-age-story is a string of moving vignettes, showing the boys roughhousing, sneaking into an arthouse playing Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers, and following one of their number, Ching-tzu, as he becomes enamored of a hoodlum’s girlfriend. Hou’s breakout film is one of his most emotionally direct works, comparable to Fellini’s I Vitelloni, though it also anticipates his future examinations of urban anomie.

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