9 Best Movies to Watch From Central Motion Picture Corporation

Staff & contributors

Slow cinema might be an acquired taste for many viewers, but Tsai Ming-liang's gorgeous feature debut about Taiwan's aimless youth should have enough mystery and suspense to draw anybody in. They key, as with many of these films, isn't to demand that things happen or actions get explained, but to surrender to every possibility and suggestion of what might be motivating these characters beneath the surface. And through patient, perceptive observation, Tsai gives us so much to chew on: the sleeplessness of urban life, the unpredictability of relationships, and most importantly the morality that forms when a disillusioned young man fully embraces his being an outcast.

And if nothing else, Tsai provides us with some of the most beautiful and honest images of city life around. It's hard to describe, but just the neon-lit arcade halls and dingy hotel rooms are enough to let you into who these characters are. It's an experience not to be missed.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance

Actor: Chen Chao-jung, Lee Kang-sheng, Lu Yi-Ching, Miao Tian, Miao Tien, Wang Yu-wen, Yu-Wen Wang

Director: Tsai Ming-liang

Eat Drink Man Woman takes place in Taipei, Taiwan in the mid-1990s. It tells the story of an aging father and his three daughters, all of whom are navigating different phases of adulthood while embracing new relationships. The family uses cooking and eating together as a way to communicate their love.

Food as a love language wasn’t a new concept in 1994, when the film was released, however it is impeccably explored in Eat Drink Man Woman. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Chen Chao-jung, Chi-Der Hong, Chin-Cheng Lu, Gin-Ming Hsu, Gua Ah-leh, Huel-Yi Lin, Jui Wang, Kuei-Mei Yang, Lester Chan, Lester Chit-Man Chan, Lung Hsiung, Lung Sihung, Shih-Jay Lin, Sihung Lung, Sylvia Chang, Wang Yu-wen, Winston Chao, Wu Chien-Lien, Ya-lei Kuei, Yang Kuei-Mei, Yu Chen, Yu-Wen Wang, 张艾嘉

Director: Ang Lee

Rating: Not Rated

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang, this unconventional story follows the lives of two neighbors who share a crumbling apartment in the midst of a strange, inexplicable epidemic. Blending a quiet drama with exciting musical numbers, the characters' lives intertwine in unexpected ways, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. With its masterful use of long takes and minimal dialogue, there is a haunting atmosphere that lingers in every shot. In hindsight, this film perfectly captures our recent pandemic-stricken world; the effects of cabin fever condensed in absurd trippy sequences. As with many Tsai Ming-liang films, it is a must-watch for fans of simpler, yet mesmerizing, art-house cinema.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Chen Shiang-Chyi, Lee Kang-sheng, Lu Yi-Ching, Miao Tien, Yang Kuei-Mei, Yee Chin-Yen

Director: Tsai Ming-liang

Like many of Edward Yang’s films, The Terrorizers examines Taiwan’s urbanized society, but this time, it’s centered around the rougher side of town, where a shooting incident connects the lives of three couples. At first, the scenes don’t make much sense, as the film rapidly shifts from couple to couple without explanation, and the sequence being used to place doubt on the reality of certain scenes. But as the film progresses, these scenes form into something like a puzzle, a piece of a whole treatise on the way real and unreal intersect, the way these perceptions shape one’s relationships. The Terrorizers is somber, and baffling, and sometimes downright bleak, but it’s a fascinating enigma on today’s urban loneliness.

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Cora Miao, Gu Bao-Ming, King Shih-Chieh, Lee Lichun, Ming Liu, Yu An-Shun

Director: Edward Yang

Based on co-writer Wu Nien-jen’s experiences, Dust in the Wind is a bittersweet coming-of-age story about lost love. The two sweethearts, Ah Yuan (Wang Chien-wen) and Ah Yun (Hsin Shu-fen), move out of their rural hometown to try to make a life in Taipei. Through day-to-day glimpses of the life they’re trying to make, it’s easy to root for their love in the beginning. As they go through the struggles of daily life, the lovers seem to glow only in each other’s presence, thanks to the gorgeous cinematography from Mark Lee Ping-Bin. However, love isn’t enough. Outside circumstances threaten their love, such as poor healthcare, theft, and the military draft. Director Hou Hsiao-hsien refuses to let us recognize this at the immediate moment, though. Like Yuan, the weight of each moment hits us belatedly, and it’s only in the end when he can’t do anything, that we realize it.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Chien-wen Wang, Danny Deng, Grace Chen Shu-Fang, Hsin Shu-Fen, Lawrence Ko, Li Tian-Lu, Mei Fang, Wu Ping-nan, Yang Li-yin

Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien

Rating: Not Rated

Even with a plot that wholeheartedly embraces the tropes of a fake marriage and of found families, The Wedding Banquet never falls into the trap of histrionic melodrama. There's a calmness to this film that's made all the more poignant by how none of these characters are truly right or wrong, good or bad. Everyone is just trying to stay in their lane while nurturing the little bits of happiness they can find. The Wedding Banquet is a relatively early example of a lighthearted gay romance and an American co-production that's incredibly sensitive about representing Taiwanese culture properly on screen.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Ang Lee, Dion Birney, Gua Ah-leh, Jennifer Lin, John Nathan, Mason Lee, May Chin, Michael Gaston, Mitchell Lichtenstein, Neal Huff, Sihung Lung, Winston Chao

Director: Ang Lee

After a long life lived in a home one chose, it can be hard to uproot your entire life, especially in a country that seems diametrically opposed in manners and values. Before his American produced hits like Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, Ang Lee made his debut through Pushing Hands, a film entirely shot in America but produced from Taiwan, exploring from the Chinese perspective the generational conflict between Asian immigrants and the mainlander parents that they brought to have a good life. It’s humorous at certain moments, with the steady demeanor of Chu contrasted to everyone around him, but Pushing Hands stems from the understanding of someone who’s directly lived through it, unfolding into a thoughtful, sentimental drama that quickly established Lee’s directorial voice.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Chit-Man Chan, Deb Snyder, Fanny De Luz, Haan Lee, Sihung Lung, Wang Bozhao, Wang Hung-Chang, Wang Lai

Director: Ang Lee

Vive L'Amour is a slow-building film that dives deep into the loneliness and longing of urban life, weaving together the lives of three lost souls searching for connection and meaning in a bustling city. Though the film's slow pace and minimal dialogue brilliantly convey the characters' inner turmoil, there are times when the (probably purposeful) lack of direction doesn't quite land. You might also find that director Tsai Ming-liang's evocative cinematography does not hold up this sparse yet bloated plot. Still, Vive L'Amour encapsulates the signature solemn air of Taiwanese cinema, presenting a contemplative exploration of human relationships and urban alienation. It may be polarizing, but one thing is for sure: it will leave you introspective and moved by its profound examination of the human condition.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Chen Chao-jung, Lee Kang-sheng, Lu Yi-Ching, Yang Kuei-Mei

Director: Tsai Ming-liang

There isn't anything about Man in Love—a remake of the 2014 South Korean film of the same name—that you haven't already seen before. But this iteration of the love story between a kindhearted woman and a scoundrel in business with gangsters and creditors benefits from high production values that help Taiwan stay romantic despite the grit of the film's plot. There's also an undeniable earnestness to even the most predictable beats here, helping the love story at its center feel more like a heat-of-the-moment bond forged in desperate economic times, and less like an abrupt bout of passion.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Chih-ju Lin, Chun Hong, Hsin-Ling Chung, Lan Wei-Hua, Lin Chih-ju, LULU Huang, Peace Yang, Roy Chiu, Tiffany Hsu, Tsai Chen-Nan, Xiao Ying Bai

Director: Chen-Hao Yin