A must-see for foodies and travel enthusiasts, this documentary explores Taiwan's rich and diverse culinary heritage. From the popular restaurants and night markets of Taipei to the farms and farm-to-table movement in the agricultural center of Puli, filmmaker Monika Treut not only examines various delectable Taiwanese dishes, but also delves into the sources of their important ingredients. Through this exploration, the film reveals the alarming negative effects of rapid urbanization in densely populated Taiwan, as well as a growing movement for environmental protection of Taiwan's beautiful rural countryside. THE RAW AND THE COOKED introduces viewers to Taiwan's diverse culture through the special dishes, cooking techniques and styles (including the preparation of a bouillabaisse from inside a tree trunk), and, in some cases, even music of acclaimed restaurants, ecological groups, indigenous Taiwanese groups, a Buddhist monastery, and the Hakka Chinese community (Taiwan's largest ethnic minority community). Be prepared to leave hungry for more.
Heartbroken Jin believes he will never fall in love again. Ending up in Ximending (the cultural-fashion hub of Taipei) after wandering for 12 years, Jin meets the happy go lucky Mo , who resuscitates his heart. At the same time, Jin becomes an apprentice to a fortuneteller named Oracle, who is the nexus of a list of quirky characters who reside in Ximending. They include Mommy, the Queen of this district; Ace, a young punk about town and Aniki, a tattoo artist and a self-proclaimed Japanese gangster. Seemingly mismatched, these eclectic individual's paths intertwine, inexplicably affecting one another and in turn, the pulse of today's Taipei.
Arranged by a smuggling syndicate, A Hong and his young teen sister (along with a group of Burmese young) sneak across the Myanmar/Thailand border and arrive at a remote town called Dagudi in Northern Thailand. A secret agreement to sell A Hong's sister for cash is made between the gangsters and A Hong's mother, and his sister is taken away upon their arrival. His sister is now under the care of a young Burmese woman named San Mei, who also has plans of escaping to a better life. Desperate to find a way to buy his sister back, A Hong goes to Bangkok and works under a tour guide who has lived in Thailand illegally for years. When a disastrous flood ruins the tourist season, A Hong makes a dangerous gamble to sell a batch of medicine that can be turned into a powerful narcotic to the gangsters who have taken his sister. Unfolding through two parallel narratives, POOR FOLK is a border story woven with touches of Tolstoy, amphetamines and Durian.
At a small bakery shop owned by her father, Chiu Hsiao-ping urges her boyfriend, pastry chef Kao Ping-hung, to enter a baking contest in France, as she has always wanted to get out of Taiwan and see the wider world. Ping-hung has already proposed to Hsiao-ping but she hasn't given him her answer yet. One day, after suffering a career crisis following the death of his mother, half-Chinese, French-born Jean-Pierre, aka Brad (Anthony Neely), host of the successful TV show Brad's Bread, turns up in the town, where his mother was born, in search of his roots. After meeting Hsiao-ping, he asks to serve an apprenticeship with her father, as he's in search of fresh inspiration for his baking career. Hsiao-ping's father agrees, for the price of a saxophone he wants to buy. At a local cookery class, Brad wins the hearts and hormones of the locals with his baking skills, but also earns the dislike of the less worldly Ping-hung, especially when he makes it clear he'll do battle for Hsiao-ping's affections.
The democratization of Taiwan forms the backdrop of this engaging story of a love-triangle, that traces the paths of three schoolmates from their rebellious student days in 1985 (when the country was still under martial law) to the present. Mabel is in love with Liam, and although an affection between them seems obvious to Aaron as the group distributes magazines banned by the ruling Nationalist party, Liam remains aloof. Aaron, no dummy, swoops in at that point, but neither Aaron nor Mabel knows that the repressed Liam secretly loves him. Flashing forward to long sections in 1990 and then 1997, the film shows how the dynamic among the three friends shifts along with the nation's politics. The cast-especially Lun's portrait of the long-suffering Mabel-is strong, the pop-music backbeat infectious and the sense of the passing years poignant. Even as freedoms grow, unrequited love remains stubbornly intransigent.
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