Author Topic: The Wayward Cloud  (Read 919 times)

philip918

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The Wayward Cloud
« on: November 03, 2009, 12:34:50 PM »
Ming-liang Tsai is probably my favorite director working today and I think The Wayward Cloud is one of his masterpieces.

Tsai's usual trademarks are in abundance: set in a near apocalyptic future, repressed/forlorn individuals who say almost nothing yet passionately pine for one another, remarkable musical numbers, and central performances from regulars Kang-sheng Lee and Shiang-chyi Chen.

This is one of Tsai's funniest films despite the depressing circumstances and his most ambitious.  The ending is where the film will lose most people, and not without warrant.  It involves the rape of a comatose or dead woman (it's never quite clear which) that goes on for a good ten minutes. 

The tone of the scene is a weird balance of horror and humor that is unsettling, but on thematic and symbolic levels works perfectly.  Lee is deeply unhappy about his porn actor job and in the end he is literally having sex with someone who is soulless.  On paper it makes sense, but in practice its really hard to sympathize with the merry band of low-budget porno producers and Lee.

What elevates the film for me is the performance by Shiang-chyi Chen.  She gives Faye Wong a run for her money in the Manic Pixie Dream Girl department.  Her performance is intimate, adorable and frightening.  Her use of body language and movement is incredible.  They way she drags the comatose Japanese actress out of the elevator or how her foot shoots out to press against the wall during her watermelon birth scene is both brilliant comedic timing and powerful at the same time.

If you haven't seen an Tsai films I wouldn't start with this one - the sex throughout is quite intense.  I would suggest The Hole, which is very similar stylistically and thematically and I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, which is a little more understated, but one of his most powerful films.

roujin

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Re: The Wayward Cloud
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 01:53:44 PM »
If you haven't seen an Tsai films I wouldn't start with this one - the sex throughout is quite intense.  

And, I think the power of the film is lost if you don't watch What Time Is It There? and The Skywalk is Gone before it. They introduce the characters and ground them. The Wayward Cloud is, in a way, a romance about these two lost souls finally coming together (I can't remember the exact scenes but I sometimes felt like Tsai was having fun with the standards of the romantic comedy by totally messing with them, such as the pure homage to Annie Hall when they're cooking in the kitchen). It's hard to reconcile these tendencies in the film with the other stuff which is basically about pornography acting as a dehumanizing force. And although some of the sex scenes are quite comical, they always lead back to that certain viewpoint. Whatever.

I agree with you phillip, though. This is a fantastic film.

mañana

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Re: The Wayward Cloud
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 02:00:02 PM »
I agree with you phillip, though. This is a fantastic film.
So 2 stars?
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Clovis8

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Re: The Wayward Cloud
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 02:27:24 PM »

Verite

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Re: The Wayward Cloud
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 05:43:32 PM »
If you haven't seen an Tsai films I wouldn't start with this one - the sex throughout is quite intense.  I would suggest The Hole, which is very similar stylistically and thematically and I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, which is a little more understated, but one of his most powerful films.

I think the best place to start with Tsai is with What Time Is It There?.
"When in doubt, seduce."
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