What Time Is It There?
what the fuck? is this supposed to have surrealist elements? is this supposed to be funny (as one critic wrote – “sets loose shock waves of comedy!” -elvis mitchell of the new york times) or is it supposed to be deep and heart breaking? okay so let me tell you a bit about this movie. it’s a taiwianese film about a watch vendor who loses his father at the beginning of the movie. one day while trying to sell watches a nice looking woman asks to buy the watch he is wearing. he tells her that it’s not for sale and that it would be bad luck because his father just died. she doesn’t care and eventually gets him to sell the watch. she says goodbye and off to paris she goes. after she leaves he starts setting all the clocks in taiwan to paris time. meanwhile his mother is going insane because she thinks his father is now a ghost who visits them in their apartment from time to time. in the last half of the film the woman and the protagonist seem to have similar experiences…is there a ungodly connection between them or is it just coincidence or maybe just an artistic tool? in the final couple scenes the watch vendor has his suitcase of watches stolen from him. the next shot shows the woman in paris sitting by a fountain and a suitcase floats into frame and then off to the edge of the fountain. after that some random old guy takes the suitcase out of the fountain places it by the fountain ledge and walks away. now you know what i mean when i ask: “what the fuck?” now i’ll admit that on one level this story does make sense. you’ve got the mother trying to reach the father. the son trying to reach the woman and the woman trying to reach him. but why all distractions from those seemingly most important relationships? so we’ve decided that the story is 1) thin at best 2) probably not the strong part of the film. so what is then? well the acting was pretty good, i suppose. but the strongest aspect of the film was definitely it’s cinematogrpahy. a lot of the shots in the film were very very artistic; they were like paintings. the framing was not only good, but an integral part of the film. there are very few cuts in the movie and the director generally kept the camera still…sometimes painfully so. add to that the extended lapses of conversation and you have for a very very slowly paced movie. most unfortunately this was done to no avail because i failed to connect with any of the characters. this movie just didn’t have the right parts fitting together…the film’s concept could have worked, but not with this direction style. the direction style was inspired and strong, but not for this story. the film turns out to be like building a house out of lincoln logs and legos – they just don’t fit and as a result the film falls apart half way through.