Yi Yi, King of Masks, Shower

King of Masks is a heartwarming fable set in 1930s China about an aging street performer searching for a male heir to learn the family art. Shower is a heartwarming modern fable set in 90s Beijing, where the elderly proprietor of a traditional bathouse has a retarded son who helps with the business, and a non-disabled son who’s busy making money with a high-tech, low-touch version of the family business in south China.
Yi Yi is a bittersweet novelistic film in late 90s Taipei, where the grandmother is in a coma following a stroke. The doctors advice the family to speaking to her in the hope of stimulating a recovery. Her children and grandchildren confide in their mute elder; the confidences reveal crises in the lives of the various family members.
All three movies are about breaks in the passing of tradition across generations. The distance is greatest in the movie set in modern Taiwan, where the grandmother is mute for most of the film, and her descendents are forced to make their own way through the dilemmas of faith, purpose and love.
The themes are kin to the “generation gap” that affected modernizing US culture, with more affection and nostalgia for the changing old ways.
For Peterme who wants recommendations, I thought Masks and Shower were well-crafted and affecting; and Yi Yi was fantastic.

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