A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?
2001 - Tsai Ming-liang - Taiwan / France
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Tsai Ming-liang's 2001, What Time Is It There? is as original, exciting, and beautiful a film can possibly get. As with all of Tsai's films the camera consists of long, extended takes and isolated framing to enhance the alienation of the characters as well as create a claustrophobic atmosphere. There are also many moments of dialogue free silence and long takes (the film opens to a static shot which last nearly four minutes without a cut: A man alone - in the middle of the frame - in his kitchen prepares a meal). Tsai wants the viewer to absorb the film, to participate in it, and emphasize with the characters situations and emotions. It truly creates a challenging and thus a deeply rewarding cinematic experience. There are so many levels, meanings, and recurring themes ranging from separation, loss, loneliness, but it's ultimately about humanities connection and coincidence both with each other and between the living and dead. It's a calm, sometimes humorous, and always poetic film of the human soul's longing for love. The lovely (and mysterious) ending quietly arrives as the three main characters are shown sleeping and alone after having just failed to emotionally or sexually communicate. The final shot can be interpreted several different ways, but ultimately represents one of the films themes (the connection of the dead and living). To me, this film is unbelievably powerful and haunting. It's images beautiful and few films capture loneliness more effectively. Tsai is truly a gifted filmmaker, and this may be his finest masterpiece.
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