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Happy Times (Sous-titres français)
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From the director of "Raise the Red Lantern" and "The Road Home," HAPPY TIMES is a charming, heartwarming comedy about the complex dynamics of relationships and the hysterical complexities inherent in making them work. In an attempt to impress a portly divorcée that has caught his eye, an unemployed factory worker poses as the wealthy manager of a non-existent hotel. Hoping that his fabricated success will lead to holy matrimony, he instead finds himself the guardian of the woman's blind stepdaughter. Now, as the lies get more complicated and the deception more difficult to sustain, the sweetyoung blind girl and the crazy middle-aged man find themselves forming an emotional friendship thatis as touching as it is unlikely.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've long been a film buff - my favorite films tend to be artsy and rather pedantic. Because of this, my family generally doesn't like to sit with me and watch movies.
So, when I started "Happy Times" last night, I thought they'd gradually wander off and find something else to do.
But, they were enthralled! This movie is the perfect balancing act between comedy, drama, and the enduring love we feel for those who have touched us in a special way.
This is a great, great movie.
Too many Americans shun foreign films. This is one they shouldn't miss. When the movie ended, my oldest son turned to me and said, "Wow. I think Hollywood has forgotten how to make movies like this!"
American filmmakers seem to think they have to descend to the baser instincts in order to make "adult" movies.
Yet, "Happy Times" - and countless other foreign films - never seem to sink to this level. These films are always excellent.
I think the issue is that Hollywood has forgotten how to write a good story; they've forgotten that basic human values can be enduring, can be entertaining, if only they would jettison their cynical baggage.
"Happy Times" will make you laugh and cry, smile and reflect with pride on the better angels of our nature.
Through all of this despair, the natural goodness of Benshan Zhao's character (also called "Zhao") shines through. His ruses get more complicated and difficult to sort out, but in the second-half of the film, his growing care and concern for "Little Wu" (skillfully portrayed by Dong Jie) is obvious.
I defy anyone to watch 'Happy Times' without tears streaming down your cheeks by the end. I definitely recommend a rental/purchase, but you may want to pair it with something a bit more upbeat or comedic. This is a heartbreaking movie.
I did some research and found out the ending on this version was NOT the original. The original was less dramatic and much shorter - though it looks like the director perferred the one on the DVD.
This is a movie that dances around deception -- the floweres are cut to look like more expensive roses, the large woman treats the girl one way with company and another when just her son is there. It also shows how MOTIVE is key to behaviours and is the difference between angels and wolves.
There is also a theme of what "modern capitalistic" society sees as having no value, and throws away -- so the bus, factory, seniors, and handicapped.
There is far more to this story then is on the surface. I highly recommend it.
THE ENDING - SPOILER
The original ending follows Zhao and "little" Wu walking to work. He finds the factory being demolished, but they continues into the "massage-room" where they sit while he reads her "father's" letter (the one Zhao wrote). As this happens, the camera moves away from them until they are in long shot -- with the room they made, surrounded by machinery taking the building apart with the inevitability that those machines will soon take the room apart too, and the film ends.
Both endings work.
The story surrounds the efforts of a man in his fifties (Zhao) who is desperately trying to get a woman to marry him. The woman, when we meet her, is obviously a caricature-morbidly obese, with an enormous slob of a son. In this pathetic environment, the door opens on a frail, pretty young lady, who obviously doesn't fit the picture, and who, though blind, "sees" better than anyone else what is really important. I was struck by the pathos of her blindness, as she plays it magnificently. But I was even more fascinated with the "blindness" of Zhao, who can't see the forest for the giant Sequoia.
You know what? Forget reviews-you just need to see this movie. From the pathetic opening, to the elaborate ruse of a fake massage parlor that forms the bulk of the story, to the "relationship" that each of Zhao's retired friends forms with this young lady, to her noble response to the deception, which she discovers far before any of them suspect, to the incredible ending... Talking to a playing tape recorder...I never would have thought of it; it's really one of the most unusual endings I have seen.
When it comes right down to it, the whole movie is a caricature, because the storyline is so outlandish that you can never quite believe that something like that would actually happen. Throughout the movie, my most consuming thought was, "How in the sam hill is he going to end this thing?!" Zhang Yimou did not disappoint me.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SAY,BUT IT IS REALLY GOOD,I LIKE IT VERY MUCHPublished on Feb. 18 2004 by IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
Zhang Yimou's ironically titled *Happy Times* is really a remarkable tightrope act: it offers us some very sappy melodrama while commenting on its own artifices, and gets away... Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003
As a longtime fan of director Zhang Yimou, I was surprised to see him change directions with 1998's Not One Less. Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2003 by yinan
This movie tops my all time list of Asian films. It covers the whole range of emotions - at times, it is absolutely hilarious, then absurd, and then very touching. Read morePublished on July 17 2003
A middle aged bachelor, Zhao is desperately seeking love and thinks he has found it in a woman who wants a large wedding. Read morePublished on July 15 2003 by Swederunner
I was so happy when I was in Blockbuster last evening and admist all the Hollywood mass-produced "big A-list star" [movies] I was able to find Zhang Yimou's recent import. Read morePublished on March 8 2003
My university's east asian cultures department is showing an east asian movie every friday for a month and this was the first one shown. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2003 by Daitokuji31
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