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Three Times [DVD]

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Qi Shu, Chang Chen
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Taiwanese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Nov. 2006
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HN32PK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,300 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

'Millennium Mambo' director Hou Hsiao-hsien explores the ever-repeating pattern of love in this romantic trilogy. The three separate love stories are set in three different times: 1911, 1966 and 2005 - but feature the same two actors in the leading roles. In 'Episode 1 - A Time for Love', Chen (Chang Chen), a young man about to embark on his national service, falls in love with May (Shu Qi), who works at the pool hall he frequents. He decides to track her down, only to discover that she has left her job and left no forwarding address. In 'Episode 2 - A Time for Freedom', a beautiful young courtesan (Shu Qi) is caught between the attentions of a rich tea plantation owner and his son. In 'Episode 3 - A Time for Youth', singer Jong (Shu Qi), who suffers from both epilepsy and failing sight, becomes an object of attraction for photographer Zhen (Chen Chang). But as each of the pair is in a relationship with another woman, things start to get complicated.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Three love stories, the same couple at the beginning, the middle and end of the C20th. Simple device for the depiction of love, perhaps echoing Virginia Woolf's Orlando and the more recent bestseller Cloud Atlas. Simple, at times impoverished sets, presumably minimal budget. The first mid century story is that of a girl working in a snooker parlour. A customer is conscripted into the army and writes to her. When he returns he tracks her down and they meet. The second time is the early story, she is a musician in a teahouse. Admired, will she be loved, saved? Both stories are very slow, decidedly tedious. But persevere. The final story has them in a contemporary city leading a low grade 'fast' life - she is a singer at a coffee bar/night club. He takes photographs. They text each other (in Chinese - mesmerising..) and she has a futile lesbian affair with her flat mate, whom she lets down. A bit irresponsible, she is an epileptic, unhappy. All sounds pretty grim, but there are two moments of great tenderness and perception of ordinary lives. Boring to watch, very good indeed to think about - keeps retuirning to memory, wondering, maybe it is the best film I've seen this year? True to life? Abundantly! Do try it.
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Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien is a critically acclaimed auteur whose work is maddeningly unavailable on DVD. Of his 20 films only three are currently being offered at prices collectors can afford. Can someone (Artificial Eye, are you reading?) please give us his films from the 80s/90s preferably in a couple of cheap box sets? The Boys From Fengkuei (1983), A Summer at Grandpa’s (1984), A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), A City of Sadness (1989), The Puppetmaster (1993) and Good Men, Good Women (1995) all won prizes at major film festivals and it is criminal that we are denied a chance to see them. As it is we have only Café Lumière (2003), Flight of the Red Balloon (2008) and the film under review here, Three Times (2005). Of these three I find the last the most satisfying. Café Lumière is an excellent Ozu homage which accurately catches the transience of today’s Japan while Flight of the Red Balloon involves an even greater cultural leap to the problems of single parenting in France. Fascinating as they are, I feel both lack the ingredient which many hold out as being the quintessential essence of Hou’s world, namely his passion for history, especially as refracted through people’s personal lives. Three Times marks a resoundingly successful return to this theme.

The film started out as a portmanteau project of three love stories lasting roughly 40 minutes apiece taking place at different times with the same two actors (Shu Qi and Chang Chen) involved in each one. Hou was only going to direct the 1966 segment subtitled ‘A Time for Love’ with Huang Wen-Ying directing the 1911 part ‘A Time for Freedom’ and Peng Wen-Chung doing the concluding story ‘A Time for Youth’ set in the 1980s.
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Three Times (2005)

Three separate slow-moving Taiwanese dramas about love set in different eras; 1966, 1911 then 2005. The same pair of actors plays in each story, a large part of which figures is how we communicate between ourselves, letters being important in the first two stories and mobile phone texting in the final one.

In 1966 the characters are optimistic in tune with the times, and life seems simpler with minimal dialogue necessary. In 1911 in occupied Taiwan, roles are much more defined and restrictive, the atmosphere is claustrophobic and the dialogue is silent written on title cards. In 2005 life seems a lot more complicated and frantic with apparently easier ways to send messages but less communication.

I liked the first story the most, and found the silent movie treatment in the second story slightly irritating after a while, although overall it was a nice film to watch and interesting to see the scenes in Taiwan.

Both the main actors are Taiwanese; Shu Qi is beautiful in all three roles; funnily enough I last saw her in The Transporter (2002) a very different kind of movie. Chen Chang is also an actor who is good to watch and who was also in the fantastic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
4 stars 18/11/15
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This movie is simply cinematographic art. It's split into three period vignettes: 'A Time for Love' which is set in 1966 Kaohsiung, the dialogue in Taiwanese Hokkien; 'A Time for Freedom', set in 1911 Dadaocheng, the dialogue appearing only in on-screen captions; and 'A Time for Youth', set in 2005 Taipei, the dialogue Mandarin. Re the latter, the director and co-writer, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, stated that it was originally planned as a 1980s setting, and for me it felt a mix of that, plus the mid- to late-90s particularly with the Cibo Mato-like music - as well as the mid-noughties. The soundtrack was superb, each period having music which perfectly fit, and I only wish it was available on CD it was so good. Of the three time periods in the movie, I related most to the 1966 Kaohsiung as the 60s was the period of my teens, and the moviette oozed that vibe, whilst the growing relationship between the stars - Shu Qi and Chang Chen - had that innocence to it which for me was totally of that time. The direction and writing were flawless, Chu T'ien-wen being the co-writer, and each of the three eras depicted were faultlessly portrayed and executed on every level.

The movie won Best Taiwanese Film of the Year, plus Best Actress for Shu Qi, in the 2005 Golden Horse Awards, plus was nominated for the Palm d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. It also won the Golden Apricot Best Film in the 2006 Yerevan International Film Festival; plus had 9 other nominations, 8 in the Golden Horse Awards, and 1 in the Hong Kong Film Awards.
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