Somewhere in Taiwan, the rain won’t stop. A mysterious disease reaches epidemic proportions… A young man uses the sizeable hole in his living room floor to spy on his downstairs neighbor, an attractive woman who stockpiles toilet paper…
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A very intuitive cinema emerges when Ming-Liang reaches a creative process that won't stop overflowing daily scenes with apocaliptic gray places. Leaning upon images instead of a propper plot, he develops the mood his storytelling requires: mundane, decadent, lost within its own faith - but grasping for hope in the form of music dream and poetic escapes
(35mm, but it looks like it a 16mm: can anyone verify?) I was a bit disillusioned with the film, that has a somewhat lazy narrative — I wonder if the 69 minutes long TV cut (for Arte) is not a more cohesive one. Despite the unevenness of the film, the songs are irresistible and a genuine stun, and the hole rests toujours a mistery.
More than the transcendent sound design, the frame-by-frame onslaught of almost-unbearable cinematographic beauty, the scathing hyperrealism, the lush textures and sumptuous palette, the bewitching magic of the plot (and the musical numbers! Gah!), I'm grateful for the plausibility of all those reasons so I don't have to admit that, really, it's that Tsai somehow made it through to my wary, walled-up little heart.
Tsai obviously rejects emotional cinema, producing instead conceptual forms. The problem is that his ideas about reality are basic, and his films end up being the most boring and empty I've watched since Béla Tarr. The dream sequences, for instance, could have been thought by a child. What we have in this film are bodies, but cinema is about characters and not flesh. After 10 or 20 minutes, no one cares anymore.
I wholeheartedly agree with MTeller. Something about this particular work seems so surrealistic yet clouded in realism. A Professor of mine back in undergrad put it best, in that it almost seems like Sci-Fi in its other-worldly presence.