He Liu (The River)
This film has been hailed (Chicago, Edinburgh, Berlin Film Festivals to name but three) and banned (in the backward military-state known as Singapore). It is directed by Ming-liang Tsai and requires exceptional patience and a very open mind to watch. Like many of Tsai’s films, He Liu has water, emotionally detached families, no soundtrack and long, challenging shots of seemingly mundane daily activities. It stars, of course, Kang-sheng Lee (Tsai’s alter ego) as a young lad who develops a painful neck condition which hobbles him after a dip in the Tamsui River. His mother (who is carrying on an affair with a pornographer) and father (who is carrying on affairs in gay bathhouses and fighting a relentless battle with a leaking roof) try every manner of remedy for the son. Like Tsai’s latest film, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, He Liu is – at its core – a story of isolation, loneliness and sexual repression. It is certainly not for everyone, and while it can be seen (and criticized) as sick, esoteric and challenging (all of which it is); if you are patient and let yourself go, you’ll likely reveal truths about your own existence which you won’t admit but know dwell within. My rating 8 out of 10.
our two characters, Emo and Proog, wander the internal workings of some strange, presumably future, world. While Elephant’s Dream is a technical achievement, I was a little lost by the obtuse story, which has something to do with our existence and what we perceive to be real and not real. Proog, who leads their wandering is suddenly challenged by his younger charge and that encounter ends badly … for poor Emo. This film likely heralds the future of film in the internet world and for that alone, and the fantastic world the Dutch team have invented, is worth a peek. My rating 6 out of 10.