• Like all of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s work it’s observational in style–we are tracking the life of Qi Shu’s Vicky—mostly in one room— Hou’s camera is often lingering at a distance in long takes right on her shoulder as she goes about her day to day. Sometimes she’s fighting with her boyfriend, but often just hanging out, drinking, listening to music
  • Many critics call it “minor” Hsiao-Hsien Hou—tough to say but there are a couple of inarguable highlights like the opening as we track Qi Shu in a great slow-motion shot. Her hair is bouncing and cinematographer Mark Li Ping-bin (he shot part of In the Mood For Love and this actually looks like the breathtaking hotel hallway scene there) and Hsiao-Hsien Hou make for a hypnotic shot/sequence with lighting overhead
hypnotic slow-motion tracking shot/sequence with lighting overhead to start the film
  • The voice-over narration is interesting- reminds me of Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien—the story is really going on in front of us and it’s not connected to the narration in many scenes
  • Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s work, like this, almost always meditates on Taiwan’s lost generation—the loss of identity. Critiques of commercialism, westernization. The characters here are drinking, crime, house/techno music, video games and abuse—nobody is working. Instead of Mahjong in Flowers of Shanghai we’re drinking here and listening to techno—and the duration and repetition is part of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s point
the depth of field work aligns with the rest of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s oeuvre and the mise-en-scene lineage from Ozu
  • I could see it being described as Gaspar Noe (drinking, drugs, techno, partying, neons) meets Rossellini (we are certainly not covering many major events, there’s a day to day realism here)
  • Beautiful shot reflecting off the mirror upside down during sex with a flashing yellow light 19 minutes
Beautiful shot reflecting off the mirror upside down during sex with a flashing yellow light 19 minutes
  • Multicolor beads on the door is clearly a choice by Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  • There aren’t 15-30 of these like Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s best work—but there a still a few of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s Ozu-like trademark gorgeous mise-en-scene—often with half-open doors creating a frame within a frame and/or bottles (another Ozu-ism) or candles in the mise-en-scene foreground
  • There’s some Antonioni or Sofia-like ennui – we are just sort of tracking her in a crowd
  • Qi Shu’s Vicky is a victim, but she also seems to do better when she’s in another circumstance – malleable—this may be a stretch but this could be part of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s statement on the generation
  • R/HR border