Taipei. A voice off-camera looks back ten years to 2000, when Vicky was in an on-again off-again relationship with Hao-Hao. She's young, lovely, and aimless. He's a slacker. Cigarettes and ...
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In Shanghai in the 1880s there are four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (called madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The ... See full summary »
Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »
In the first half of this century, young Li Tienlu joines a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. During World War II the Japanese... See full summary »
A-yuan and A-yun are both from the small mining town of Jio-fen. In the city, A-yuan is an apprentice by day and goes to night school, and A-yun works as a helper at a tailors. Everyone ... See full summary »
Ah-Ching and his friends have just finished school in their island fishing village, and now spend most of their time drinking and fighting. Three of them decide to go to the port city of ... See full summary »
Taipei. A voice off-camera looks back ten years to 2000, when Vicky was in an on-again off-again relationship with Hao-Hao. She's young, lovely, and aimless. He's a slacker. Cigarettes and alcohol fuel her nights. We see bits of her life: when Hao-Hao steals his father's Rolex and the police detain them; when she gets a job as a club hostess, where she meets Jack, who becomes her patron and protector; when Hao-Hao comes to the club, insisting on talking to her; when she visits Yubari, Japan, for its film festival in the dead of winter; when Jack must go to Japan to straighten out trouble caused by one of his acolytes. Does Vicky have any expectations? Does time simply pass? Written by
Hou Hsiao-Hsien researches his projects meticulously. For Millennium Mambo, largely set in the hyper-charged twilight world of the Taipei rave scene, he threw himself into youth culture. He hung out at the local discos and even experimented with ecstasy. See more »
A hollow life is observed clinically but sympathetically in this melancholy, graceful film, which is itself hollow but compelling, like the dance beat it is set to. The director uses a convention I hadn't seen since early silent films: a summary description of an action, followed by its acting out. Also, the story is narrated from a time yet to come. These devices create the sense that the events have happened before--as they have, in the cyclical, purposeless life we are witnessing--and also that they are inevitable. The story is narrated in the voice of the leading character, but in the third person: an older self from a real future? or an alternate reality? or only her imagination? The narration is necessary as a comment on the characters' behavior because in the numb and mindless hedonism that draws them in and keeps drawing them (she keeps leaving the boyfriend who embodies this life style but keeps returning to him) they are never shown as capable of thought. Whether the film means to say that, or is simply limiting its view and depth of field to exclude their thoughts as peripheral to their lives, this lack works to unconvince us. The characters are shown in attitudes of thought but never speak anything like a thought, even a stupid one; they are moved entirely by want and impulse. The hedonist boyfriend is shown as having friends; how? Nobody not brain-dead exists in a state of pure mindlessness. That is the view of parents whose adolescent refuses to talk to them: who can understand these kids? This film describes a life--and this is an interesting accomplishment, but a relatively narrow one. More difficult, in this milieu, and ultimately more interesting would have been to discover the person whose life it is (or will have been).
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