THE WAYWARD CLOUD (2005)
Taiwan/France 112 minutes
Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang
“The most audacious film to date from the visionary director Tsai Ming-Liang.” [SFiFF Program Guide]
I won”t say that there was a story to The Wayward Cloud; there were scenes. Often the scenes were shot with a fixed camera, people moving within the frameâ€”or moving in and out of the frameâ€”and sometimes no people at all for minutes at a time, causing a palpable anticipation. We”re usually in a tall apartment building in Taipei, Taiwan, in an apartment, in the hallways, in the elevator, in the stairwell. A few scenes are outside the building; and the musical scenes are in fantasyland.
There is a draught in Taiwan.
A young woman is obsessed with collecting water in plastic bottles of all sizes and shapes.
A young man is an actor in no-budget porn films.
She is unaware of his profession; the two hang out together, and maybe live together, but don”t have sex with each other.
There is almost no dialog.
So there will be a scene of the young woman out collecting water, and then a lively, colorful musical production number will break out.
Or the porn guy climbs to the roof to bathe in the water storage tank, turns into a sequined serpent and breaks into song.
Y”know what I mean? Me neither. But it’s all so goddamn riveting you can”t take your eyes off the screen, and the 112 minutes fly by.
Poignant scene in a dim stairwell, musical dancing red umbrellas in and around a campanile, a heavy duty porn scene (and they”re not fakin” it), a production number in a huge public toilet amid the stalls and urinals with girls wearing long, pointy, red plastic breasts dancing around a guy with a penus head, and a final scene so graphic and so powerful that you want to avert your eyes but can”t.
The closing song is sung to the tune of The Wayward Wind. The Wayward Cloud can come and go and cover you or leave you exposed.
The San Francisco International Film Festival is running now through May 4. I”m volunteering at the festival and plan to attend as many of the films as I can work in to my schedule. Bear in mind that, for the most part, these are independent films and many have not been picked up for distribution, so they may not be playing at a “theater near you” anytime soon. On the other hand, some of the foreign films may have already been released in Europe.
As a public service, I will post brief reviews. My ratings are based on
5 stars ***** with a tilde ~ being half-a-star.
Happy viewing, or in any case, keep your eyes on rectorsite.com.