Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Millenium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)

On the surface, Millenium Mambo bears little in common with Three Times, the Hsiao-hsien film I reviewed recently. While Three Times was about quiet worlds and lives, Millenium Mambo represents the lives of Taiwanese 20-somethings, filled with drugs, clubs, and loud music. But beyond those superficial differences, both films share the same core interests: young people and the loneliness and sadness contained therein.

Millenium Mambo is the story of Vicky (played perfectly by Qi Shu, whom I was also very impressed with in Three Times), a 20-something Taiwanese girl who lives with her boyfriend Hao-Hao. Hao-Hao is physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive to Vicky, and it shows in her growing alcoholism (she is almost constantly drinking in the film) and feelings that she is not a memebr of the "normal world." At the hostess club where she eventually works, she meets and falls in love with Jack, a gangster-type character who neverthless treats Vicky with love and respect. Vicky shuttles between not only these two men, but other men and situations that give her life momentary meaning, but nothing beyond that. The film is narrated in third-person from the year 2011 (ten years after the action takes place), showing the meaninglessness of most of our day-to-day actions. In ten years, none of the things that seem so pressing to Vicky in the film are probably even remembered by her. The tragic, yet undefined, end of the film seems as if these moments are already fading away from her.

The movie is not plot-based; instead, it is image- and emotion-based, with long periods of silences between characters. In this movie, actions truly do speak volumes louder than words. The anticipation that 20-somethings have of life truly "beginning" spoke to me, and in the movie, that anticipation is equated to the world's anticipation of the new millenium. Neither is as meaningful as was hoped, and that is Hsiao-hsien's impression of the world, it seems. Pessimistic, maybe, but most certainly beautiful. Hsiao-hsien is now officially on the list of directors I need to see more of.


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