Double Feature: 'What Time Is It There?' and 'The Wayward Cloud'

“Romantic comedies will continue to come out of a tube, every spring and fall” – producer Christine Vachon

There will never be a shortage of traditional Valentine’s Day viewing options, and if hard-pressed to go that route, I’ll always select the off-center Punch Drunk Love. For the adventurous: with a scarcity of dialogue – long, meandering, almost static scenes, and the antithesis of a Hollywood ending, some might easily pan Tsai Ming-Liang’s contrarian love-story What Time Is It There? (2001) for the same reasons that I’ve got it on heavy rotation.

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A minor transaction between Shiang-Chyi and street vendor Hsiao Kang before her trip to Paris.
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Hsiao Kang. Transcontinental obsession. Covert operations.

“One of the enigmas about Tsai’s work is that it is always funny and always sad, never just one or the other…Everything is funny. Everything is sad. There is nothing funnier than an unrequited love. Nothing sadder than an unrequited love. ” – Roger Ebert review. Trailer.

And although psuedo-sequel The Wayward Cloud has yet to find a proper release in the U.S., with the proper means (import DVD, region free player) you may see tragic missed connections resolved, if you’re comfortable with the notion that our protagonist, Hsiao Kang has forsaken the wristwatch business for a career in crudely produced amateur pornography. Also required: the stomach for watermelons found in the most unconventional of places, and musical numbers that feature singing, dancing genitalia. Happy Valentines!

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“An unconventional, nearly silent, love story about two isolated souls inhabiting an indifferent city…The cocktail is a bit heady, especially when you consider how many taboos are played here for droll comedy…If you don’t walk out midway through the film, and give the film a chance, you can see the blurry line where cinema and voyeurism merge.” – Twitch review. Not-at-all-safe-for-work (French) trailer.

Posted by Ted Zee on February 13th 2007 | Home Page | 9 Comments Subscribe to this site's feed

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