Monthly Archives: August 1996

Vive L’amour

Tsai Ming-liang’s strikingly beautiful second feature (1994), a haunting look at alienation among three young people in Taipeia real estate agent, a street vendor, and a gay, painfully withdrawn burial-plot salesmanwon the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and is one of the key modernist works of the Taiwanese new wave. Working principally without dialogue, with a feeling for modern architecture and contemporary urban despair that often recalls Michelangelo Antonioni, the film gathers its forces slowly, but builds to a devastating finale. In Mandarin with subtitles. 118 min. (JR)… Read more »

A Borrowed Life

Wu Nien-jen, a key screenwriter of the Taiwanese new wave, makes an impressive directorial debut in this 1994 autobiographical feature about a family in a mining town during the Japanese occupation. The existential identity crises of many who lived through this occupation remains a vivid part of Taiwanese culture, and this is one of the few recent Taiwanese films that confronts this issue directly. (JR)… Read more »

Small Faces

This 1995 autobiographical film by writer-director Gillies MacKinnon and his brother Billy (a longtime Jane Campion crony who coproduced and collaborated on the script) about three brothers growing up in Glasgow in 1968 is well acted, sincere, and serious, so I wish it engaged me more. The problem may be that I’ve had it up to here with movies about youth gangs: the oldest brother belongs to a gang, the youngest gets involved in the gang rivalry, and the middle brotherpresumably the future directorstays busy with painting and romance. (JR)… Read more »

Celestial Clockwork

This is one goofy movie, with energy to spare. A Venezuelan bride (Ariadna Gil) abandons her groom at the altar to fly to Paris in hopes of becoming an opera singer and falls in with a colorful and eccentric crowd, including a flashy and devious video artist (Arielle Dombasle), a Russian music teacher (Michel Debrane), an unorthodox psychiatrist (Evelyne Didi), and a gay clairvoyant (Frederic Longbois). Writer-director Fina Torres, a Venezuelan based in Paris since the early 70s, gives this 1994 French-Venezuelan-Belgian-Spanish feminist comedy with stylish MTV-like interludes a Latin exuberance that at times recalls Darnell Martin’s I Like It Like That. Nothing cuts very deep, and at times the film seems to be all over the place (Torres worked with five others on the script); but the surface glitteraided by Ricardo Aronovich’s cinematographykeeps it fetching. (JR)… Read more »