Friday, November 6, 2009

Paper Thin Walls

Dong(The Hole)(1998) Directed By Ming Liang Tsai
Two neighbors brought together when a hole appears in the floor/ceiling.In reversal of Ming Liang Tsai's "Wayward Cloud" where a city was caught in a debilitating drought, now the rain will just not stop falling. To make matters worse a strange disease is infecting the city which causes those afflicted to seek dark, moist corners, crawl around on all fours and show aversion to sunlight (basically they take on cock roach behavior; a Gregor Samsa stress disorder). The city has been evacuated aside from a few who can't/won't leave, but the water is soon to be cut off (water plays a vital role in WC as well). A slow, minimalist, and largely silent deadpan comedy of alienation ensues. The dilapidated apartments and ruined hallways double as the sights of garish musical numbers of Taiwanese pop songs from the 60's (though not as garish and stylized as those in The Wayward Cloud). The post-apocalyptic setting of the film is ironic counter part to the oneiric romance silently occurring between the two neighbors. The structure of the film flows back and forth between images of the banal daily activities of the "survivors" left in their apartments waiting to turn into insects, and the bright romantic songs that affirm life, love, and naivete amidst disaster. The Wayward Cloud had three types of scenes, adding in sex and meta-porn which is absent from "The Hole". Ming Liang Tsai was asked to make a film about the end of the millennium, and this is what he produced. A dryly funny, surreal, spared down, romance in a form that only he could make. Anyone who claims modern cinema is dead, has not been watching enough movies from Taiwan. The final scene is one of the most hopeful and poetic in recent film history illustrating human contact as the only remedy against 21st century blues; a helping hand to those in darkness.

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