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Archive for April 1st, 2015

millenium-mambo-1

 © 2015 by James Clark

      After exploring a number of films where protagonists seem to have brought down on their head difficulties so weighty as to suggest a mission impossible, I think it’s time for Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Millennium Mambo (2001) to make the case that it’s easy as pie. Well, maybe not exactly as easy as pie, but wisely and effectively circumventing grating levels of peevish mayhem and clueless paralysis.

Apparently this is a Hou Hsiao Hsien movie which the partisans love to hate, inasmuch as it steadfastly refuses to pay the usual tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, in his setting in relief hard domestic times (and their socio-political framework) whereby decorum of the most incisive poignancy can rule. There is no doubt that such salt-of-the-earth sweethearts have left the building in the 2001 odyssey on tap (and I’m as insatiable about seeing the graces of Setsuko Hara [and her skilful followers] as anyone). But rather than shoot first and pile on reasons later, there are rewards to be had—rewards of decorum, no less—in this apparently attention-deficient, rude scramble of a movie (which reminds one a bit of Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels [1995] as taking place where gun-control is not just a saying). What is needed, I think, to come to realize that Hou Hsiao Hsien has, taking to heart the newness of the new millennium—which had been eating away at nostalgic gems for some time before the year 2000—improved not dumbed down his craft, is to (like Wong) pay close attention to the lava flow of contemporary sensuality onscreen, as only at a first and lazy glance devoid of serious content. (more…)

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