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Millennium Mambo

Posted by martinteller on December 16, 2006

This is my 7th Hou film, and although I’ve liked them all to varying degrees, not one of them has knocked my socks off.  Maybe I should give up, but his films do have a certain appeal.  Here we’ve got great cinematography by Pin Bing Lee, the absolutely stunning Shu Qi (star of Jackie Chan’s aptly-named Gorgeous) and an entrancing techno soundtrack.  Unfortunately the characters are uninteresting, the plot goes nowhere, and far too often we’re stuck watching Shu Qi smoke a cigarette for 3-4 minutes.  In Ming-liang Tsai’s films, these lengthy scenes of watching people do “nothing” encourage the viewer to dig deeper and uncover the truth behind the image.  In Hou’s films, I don’t feel that there’s anything to dig for, it’s all there on the surface.  “Check it out, Vicki’s sad.  See how thoughtful she looks as she lights up her 53rd cigarette.”  There’s precious little insight to be revealed.  Beautiful to watch, but the gentle melancholy usually turns quickly to boredom.  The Japan scenes were the highlights.  Rating: 6


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