In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his ... See full summary »
A strange disease starts to affect people in Taiwan just before the year 2000. The authorities order everyone to evacuate, but some tenants of an apartment building stay put, including a ... See full summary »
When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection. He changes all the clocks in Taipei to French time; as he watches ... See full summary »
The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's ... See full summary »
Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme... See full summary »
How to watch this film? Don't fall asleep at the wheel.
Those about to watch this modern masterpiece, be advised: you're going down a road of unexpected darkness and terror, cloaked in what appears to be the banal trappings of ordinary existence. But through the lens of Hou's camera, this is anything but ordinary.
To see this, one has to rid oneself of conventional thinking of what it means for a movie to "take" you somewhere. So when a critic whines, "I'm dying for a change of scenery!", it's obvious that they've too accustomed to standard-issue Hollywood storytelling to appreciate something entirely different and new: the mysterious, inexplicable rhythms of REAL LIFE. A life that alternates between static, stagnant waiting for things to happen, and sudden moments of motion and . The first shot explains so much of this: people who are moving and standing still at the same time -- who pass through light and darkness with the same impassive, zonked out expression, waiting for SOMETHING to happen while letting their favorite punk tune release their pent up energy, ambitions and frustrations.
So much of this film is like listening to a good song -- just allowing yourself to be bathed in sensation, to delight in little things that you notice but add so much to the overall experience. You simply can't demand standard point A to point B plot points on a movie that is interested in something entirely different. Because LIFE DOES NOT HAVE PLOT POINTS. What it does have are a multitude of wonders, in gestures, colors, and moments of surprising joy and terror. And what does it all lead to? Who knows. That's why it's life. So when someone says "Why watch a film if there's not a single worthwhile aspect to offer?" he's obviously dissassociated the experience of movies from the experience of real life.
As I've re-watched and reflected on this film, I find it to be one of the essential statements on what it's like to live in the fast lane of modern-day, globalized civilization. This film may resemble American small-time gangster flicks (most notably MEAN STREETS and GOODFELLAS) but compared to this movie those movies, as great as they are, seem simple-minded in their narrative structure and explicated themes. This film gives you the feeling of what it FEELS like to be in the shoes of these sorry saps, with all their petty ambitions and fears that end up meaning quite a lot by the time we get to that terrifying last shot, where a big nothing moment amounts to everything.
12 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?