Archive for June 7th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(France/Taiwan 2009 146m) DVD2 (Franceonly)

You are so pretty

p  Marianne Dimoulin, Jacques Bidou, Tsai Ming-Liang  d/w  Tsai Ming-Liang  ph  Liao Pen-Jung  ed  Jacques Comets  m  Jean-Claude Petit  art  Patrick Dechesne, Alain Pascal Housiaux

Laetitia Casta (Salome), Lee Kang-Sheng (Kang, director), Jean-Pierre Léaud (Antoine, Herod Antipas), Jeanne Moreau (Jeanne), Nathalie Baye (Nathalie), Fanny Ardant (producer, Herodias), Mathieu Amalric (man in bushes), Lu Yi-Ching (Kang’s mother),

Perhaps the best way to describe Tsai Ming-Liang’s purposefully indecipherable and divisive film is to say that I hate it but with an adoring heart.  A contradiction, an anomaly, a pretension; yes, all the above, but it’s a film truly unlike any other yet released and one that demands to be seen in a different way to all those that have gone before.

            Those that know Tsai’s oeuvre will of course have an advantage over the rest, and those who read the only other Tsai piece in this selection, written when it was the only one, will know I have problems with him in general.  Visage made it in by the skin of its teeth, through the tiniest crack in the wall illuminated by candlelight.  It was the first partnership between ARTE distribution and the Louvre, the palace turned gallery.  Visage was premiered at Cannes, but not only could it not have had a worse reception, it also couldn’t have had a worse choice of opening. 

            So take the film as it is, about Taiwanese director Kang who is invited to France to make a film superficially on Oscar Wilde’s Salome.  It is also about the state of mind of the actors called on to play Salome, her licentious uncle Herod Antipas and his scheming wife Herodias, the latter played by the film’s producer.  Also in attendance and playing themselves yet also not themselves, are Jeanne Moreau and Nathalie Baye.  (more…)

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