The Green, Green Grass of Home
Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien. 1982, 90 mins. 16mm. With Kenny Bee, Chen Mei-feng. Hou’s third and last vehicle for Kenny Bee was this Cinemascope musical in which Bee plays a substitute teacher newly arrived from Taipei to a country village, where he begins a romance with a fellow teacher, much to the chagrin of his city girlfriend who comes to drag him back. Such material may seem like an unlikely project for Hou, known for his withdrawn and observant style, but The Green, Green Grass of Home is significant for being the film on which Hou first allowed improvisation, giving the schoolchildren free reign in front of the camera, and so marking the film as an important step in the burgeoning New Cinema movement.