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Edward Yang’s four-hour epic has played to stunned U.S. audiences at film festivals off and on since its completion in 1991; this edition marks its first large-scale release in the United States.

It tells the story of a teenage Chinese immigrant and his family, refugees from Mao’s China, living in Taiwan at the end of the fifties. Despite his own personal decency and his father’s Confucian conservatism, the boy is inexorably drawn into the era’s violent youth gangs.

I doubted that I could love any movie as much as Yang’s Yi-Yi (2000), but this film’s attention to detail and observation of character make it every bit as alive, as real as that movie. The four hours you spend watching it feel no longer than four hours of passionate talk with someone you dearly love but can’t save. (Criterion Blu-Ray and DVD)

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