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The Yin of Yang: “A Brighter Summer Day”

The Yin of Yang: "A Brighter Summer Day"

Those of us who get easily swept up in the tender, boundless empathy of Yi Yi may find it difficult to remember (or, due to the general lack of availability of Edward Yang’s other films, may not even realize) that much of this great Taiwanese director’s career sprang from his bitter sense of irony. While Yang’s final masterpiece suggested an artist beginning to make peace with an unjust world, his other major works were made in a spirit of indignant protest against a culture he felt was actively suppressing its own history and cheating its youth. Now that the World Cinema Foundation’s newly restored print of the 1991 epic A Brighter Summer Day is finally making its stateside debut as part of this year’s Film Comment Selects slate, Yang fans will get a stronger dose of the anger that only occasionally disrupted Yi Yi’s chastened world-weariness and Ozu-like tranquility. Where Yi Yi was dominated by brightly lit compositions contrasted with a handful of melancholy nighttime sequences, A Brighter Summer Day traps its audience in a permanently murky atmosphere—one that seems intended to precisely capture the political anxiety of its historical moment, but that also renders our relationship to time and space unstable. Read Andrew Chan’s review of A Brighter Summer Day.

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