master (arguably one of the greatest active filmmakers in
world cinema) Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 2001 Millennium Mambo is a
beautifully compelling and compassionate. From the very opening
(and intriguing) voice-over narration, the film lures the
viewer into its emotions and images, but it does so at a distance
from the viewer which leaves for a unique experience. The
film follows a nonlinear narrative and is made rather simplistically.
However, like many of Hou's films, Millennium Mambo is one
that contains many layers, meanings and depths. Millennium
Mambo is a look into the youth of modern-day Taiwan, yet remains
a deeply universal examination of the fateful circumstances
of a young girls life. Hou captures the emotions through a
dazzling visual atmosphere. Techno-music, video games, television,
cell phones are always present on screen to capture the "quick-access"
way of modern-day living. The cinematography is stunningly
composed of bright neon colors. Shu Qi is a dream as Vicky!!
Aside from being in every scene (usually smoking many, many
cigarettes) she gives the character a sympathetic connection
with the viewer. There are many themes and mysteries to the
film that are quite wonderful to experience. On an emotional
level, I felt more detached watching this then I have with
any other Hou film, but he brings you in through the visuals
and the loveliness of Shu Qi, and ultimatly the dettachment
of the filmmaking is what makes this effective as a haunting
reflection of time. This is indeed transcendent cinema!