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Yi Yi

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Overview

Master Taiwanese director Edward Yang spins this intricate and complex yarn about life's everyday crises. The film focuses on N.J. Jian Wu Nien-Jen, a noted writer/director in his own right; his wife, Min-Min Elaine Jin; and their two children, teenager Ting-Ting Kelly Lee and young Yang-Yang Jonathan Chang. Their middle-class existence seems stable and secure until a series of incidents throws all of their lives out of kilter. The misfortunes start at the wedding of Min-Min's ne'er-do-well brother, Ah-Di Chen ...
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Overview

Master Taiwanese director Edward Yang spins this intricate and complex yarn about life's everyday crises. The film focuses on N.J. Jian Wu Nien-Jen, a noted writer/director in his own right; his wife, Min-Min Elaine Jin; and their two children, teenager Ting-Ting Kelly Lee and young Yang-Yang Jonathan Chang. Their middle-class existence seems stable and secure until a series of incidents throws all of their lives out of kilter. The misfortunes start at the wedding of Min-Min's ne'er-do-well brother, Ah-Di Chen Xisheng, when his jilted ex-girlfriend Yun-Yun Tseng Hsin-yi bursts into the proceedings and lambastes the bride. Upset by the ruckus and feeling unwell, Min-Min's mother goes home early only to suffer a stroke and slip into a coma. After the wedding, N.J. runs into his first love, Sherry Ke Suyun, who is married to a rich American. This chance encounter shakes N.J. to his very foundations, forcing him to reevaluate his life. At the same time, N.J.'s computer company deliberates on whether or not to collaborate with a renowned Japanese games designer, Ota Issey Ogata, sending N.J. to Japan to negotiate a contract. Confronted by her mother's coma, Min-Min also takes stock of her life and finds it lacking. On the brink of a nervous breakdown, she suddenly joins a religious retreat. In Japan, N.J. warms to his potential business partner Ota, spending long evenings discussing life and love in hip Tokyo jazz clubs. There, N.J. also meets up with Sherry; they relive old memories and flirt with infidelity. At the same, Ting-Ting, who quietly blames herself for her grandmother's coma, learns her first hard lessons about love, while Yang-Yang causes trouble at school and wrestles with the truths of the adult world. This film won the Golden Palm for Best Direction at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and was an official selection for the 2000 Toronto Film Festival.
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Special Features

Audio commentary featuring writer-director Edward Yang and Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns ; Video interview with Rayns about Yang and the new Taiwan cinema movement; U.S. theatrical trailer; Original English subtitle translation by Yang and Rayns
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
As exhibited by his sprawling 1991 masterpiece, A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang can combine a poet's eye for metaphor and imagery with a novelist's sense of detail and character. Yi Yi is a domestic drama that has the sweep of an epic and the fine acuity of a haiku. Yang's story unfolds effortlessly, populated with disquieting coincidences and sudden reversals, capturing the ebb and flow of real life. Yet Yi Yi's complex narrative seamlessly creates unexpected parallels between characters that simply could not exist in a standard linear narrative. In one sequence, Yang cuts between Ting-Ting's tentative steps toward romance with a classmate and N.J.'s guilt-wracked rendezvous with his first love Sherry. Whereas A Brighter Summer Day largely concerned itself with the lives of Taiwan's disaffected youth, this film speaks most eloquently about the difficulties of middle age. The most overtly existential of Yang's work, the film shows how N.J.'s bourgeois sense of stability can be utterly overturned by a single chance encounter, creating one of the richest portraits of a midlife crisis ever to be committed to celluloid. The underlying themes of change and uncertainty tap directly into Taiwan's overall national psyche during the late '90s -- a period marked by a go-go economy that went south after the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and an increasingly tenuous political existence thanks to mainland China's public chest-beating. As the rumpled patriarch N.J., Wu Nian-Jen delivers a finely wrought performance, as does the ever-talented Elaine Jin, who plays Min-Min. Funny, sometimes shocking, and always poignant, Yi Yi is a monumental work by one of the towering figures of world cinema.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
Yi Yi....is the work of a master in full command of the resources of his art. Movies are an inherently, sometimes cheaply emotional medium, but it takes a lot to make a grown critic cry. As I watched the final credits of Yi Yi through bleary eyes, I struggled to identify the overpowering feeling that was making me tear up. Was it grief? Joy? Mirth? Yes, I decided, it was all of these. But mostly, it was gratitude.
Chicago Reader - Jonathan Rosenbaum
Yang sees this father, mother, teenage daughter, eight-year-old son, and grandmother as the five fingers of a single hand, each one gradually becoming paralyzed and isolated...More subtly, he hints at their separateness from one another by rarely showing them together and by emphasizing their lack of rapport and intimacy at the infrequent family gatherings, including the stiff poses for wedding photographs that open the picture and the almost equally stiff groupings at a funeral at the end.
It wasn't surprising that Edward Yang got the prize for best direction at Cannes last year -- he's been making masterful films in Taiwan for almost 20 years. ..But the biggest surprise of all came when the National Society of Film Critics...named Yi Yi the best film of the year -- the first time the organization had given such an honor to a foreign-language film since...1986. One can safely wager that this wasn't some backhanded way of granting Yang belated recognition, because most of the NSFC's members remain as ignorant of his six previous features as the general public. Instead I think it signified a growing perception that what's happening in the world of movies isn't necessarily what we read about in mainstream magazines or hear about on radio or TV.

Yang sees this father, mother, teenage daughter, eight-year-old son, and grandmother as the five fingers of a single hand, each one gradually becoming paralyzed and isolated...More subtly, he hints at their separateness from one another by rarely showing them together and by emphasizing their lack of rapport and intimacy at the infrequent family gatherings, including the stiff poses for wedding photographs that open the picture and the almost equally stiff groupings at a funeral at the end.
It wasn't surprising that Edward Yang got the prize for best direction at Cannes last year -- he's been making masterful films in Taiwan for almost 20 years. ..But the biggest surprise of all came when the National Society of Film Critics...named Yi Yi the best film of the year -- the first time the organization had given such an honor to a foreign-language film since...1986. One can safely wager that this wasn't some backhanded way of granting Yang belated recognition, because most of the NSFC's members remain as ignorant of his six previous features as the general public. Instead I think it signified a growing perception that what's happening in the world of movies isn't necessarily what we read about in mainstream magazines or hear about on radio or TV.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/15/2011
  • UPC: 715515069410
  • Original Release: 2000
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Time: 2:53:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 1,131

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Wu Nien-Chen N.J.
Kelly Lee Ting-Ting
Elaine Jin Min-Min
Chen Xisheng Ah-Di
Jonathan Chang Yang-Yang
Tang Ru-yun Min-Min's Mother
Hsu Shu Yuan
Issey Ogata Ota
Nianzhen Wu
Technical Credits
Edward Yang Director, Screenwriter
Chen Bowen Cinematographer, Editor
Du Duzhi Sound/Sound Designer
Shinya Kawai Producer
Longyu Li Cinematographer
Kaili Peng Score Composer, Production Designer
Naoko Tsukeda Producer
Yang Wei-Han Cinematographer
Yu Weiyen Art Director
Wang Yuhui Asst. Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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