THE PUPPETMASTER is probably the most accessible film in Hou Hsiao-Hsien's repertoire. A stunningly beautiful film based on the first 37 years of Li Tien-Lu's life in Japanese occupied Taiwan, the sophistication in the structure, cinematography, sound, and the interesting use of symbolism is hard to parallel. When I saw this film for the first time in NYC earlier this year, I was absolutely awed by the genuinely recreated atmosphere of an era that is simultaneously close and remote to me. Days, weeks, and even months after viewing, I found myself discovering more and more quality and meaning in the movie. I am glad I caught the last show of the week-long Hou Hsia-Hsien Festival at The Screening Room, because the DVD is just not the same. The full-screen cropping and the poor color rendition diminished the quality tremendously. It hurts to see a piece of great art being butchered like this. Imagine someone brought you a bad photocopy of 66% area of Van Gogh's Starry Night and said "You haven't seen this great painting, right? Here is a copy for you to enjoy." Winstar's effort to bring Hou's films to us is absolutely admirable, but unfortunately the effort is largely wasted. This comment is not meant to discourage Winstar from pursuing future projects. We just like to see a fine film being presented nicely, like FLOWERS FROM SHANGHAI.