starts off like a bedroom drama with Cassavete-inspired situations of domestic abuse but it eventually becomes a self-indulgent, narrated coming-of-age vehicle for the lead. probably stylistic ripoff material for "Lost In Translation". another one of those: "if they're so poor then how come their apartment was so much nicer than mine?" movies.
I'm with The Guardian's Derek Malcolm who writes, "You could say that the film is both too long and too thin.... But there are two blessings - the cinematography and the performance from Qi Shu as Vicky." The color palate and atmosphere are eveloping, but I found my interest waning heading into the second hour.
Shifting camera angles and pulsing lights create a hypnotizing, surrealist feel. The long absences in dialogue accentuate the down-and-out mood, but the foreshadowing narration seemed awkward to me and I could never understand Vicky's desire to return to Hao-hao after she had an easy escape. It's too bad Shu qi has to spend so much screen time with Chun-hao Tuan.
Treat Triple H's tale of dissolute youth as a mood poem to the twin demons of excess and waste. I particularly enjoyed the from-the-future narrative voice and the use of an omniscient camera that pans around a room like a bird from above surveying the action (or the wreckage, in some cases). I mark it down slightly for its sliver of a plot and an ending that left me a bit cold, literally and figuratively. 3.5 stars.
Hou's camera floats ghostlike through Taipei in this delirious reflection on romance. He goes for big emotion here, to mixed success — the film can be dull at times, but the dreamy nostalgic sequences featuring Lim Giong's score are pitch-perfect and absolutely heart-rending. He captures well the confused chronology of memory and the accompanying estrangement from one's own past.
Hou's films can be beautiful to look at and hard to follow, so some write him off as a stylist. But that ignores how he uses types of beauty (of Shu Qi, of night club raves, of a Japanese snowfall) to drive and frame the action. Hou was 53 when the film was made, and it's the work of an old soul looking back on a part of life that has only beauty to distract from how miserable it gets. A dream of rebirth.
Not really sure what this film was trying to accomplish. It was so tightly wrapped that nothing and nobody was able to escape its grasp. Hsiao-Hsien's command of light, sound and texture won my confidence, but the film suffers from the Bergman complex. A man with a camera trying to examine women's interiority mesmerized and swept away by his stunning lead. Bergman, at least, accomplished something for his trouble.
As others have noted, the soundtrack to this film is beautiful. Lim Giong is at his best with the music. To that, both the music--which leads the entire film--and the personalities that are brought up by the music are stuck between frenetic unsurety and tender excitement for the future. It is all very surface and fast-paced as that was what the millennium brought with it.
A beautiful and completely shallow young lady living the incredibly tough life of smoking, drinking, dancing, fucking and whining. Utterly beautifully shot, however. Too bad the story is as surface-level as the protagonist, but still a wonder to look at. Mixed bag here to be sure.