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 ... 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Da-Nian is a young man from Taipei. He goes to a remote village and works as a substitute teacher. He and Su-Yun, another teacher at the school, fall in love. There are several students in ... 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's latest film, I saw as part of Village Voice's Best Undistributed Films of 2001 series, feels like a mixing and modulation of his last three: a young woman's abortive but contemplative contemporary existence (GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN), a moment-by-moment addiction to thrill-seeking (GOODBYE SOUTH GOODBYE) and a love affair entombed in drugs (FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI) all figure into Hou's attempt to lyricize the moment we are living in -- NOW. The result is a film that seems immensely fascinated in each moment it is capturing -- luminescent bodies dancing in an underground rave; a man inhaling and exhaling smoke from a makeshift bong; the absolute wonder of one's facial imprint in an immaculately white snowbank -- until those moments lead to other moments of inescapable banality or dread. Hou enhances this addiciton-to-the-moment with a voice-over that takes place in 2010, giving away plot points before they happen on-screen; since narrative convention no longer matters, the result is an even more intense experience of the moment tied in with an odd sensation of retrospection (no one messes around with the concept of history more than Hou). The give-and-take of this kind of project is that not everything will succeed on a dramatic level, but the experience of this film (and I do mean *experience*) is too exquisite to be denied. There are no less than half a dozen moments in this film, easily the most sumptuously photographed of the year, whose sheer beauty in harmonizing time and image are timeless treasures: objects and settings seem to take on a life of their own, before they are inevitably swept under the ever-moving carpet of time.
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