On the occasion of its release on OCS, back on the heady Millennium Mambo, one of the most beautiful work of Hou Hsiao Hsien.
He is good and sweet to be able to rediscover MILLENNIUM MAMBO, over fifteen years after its release. For the author of these lines, this is however less a long time, but the effect is the same. Because MILLENNIUM MAMBO is part of these little gems, almost forgotten, that leave an indelible mark on the mind of a cinephile. Long difficult to find on DVD (at least at affordable prices), and while a Blu-ray version would be welcome, it is at this time on OCS that one can plunge with pleasure. We would not be praying to come back on one of the masterpieces of Hou Hsiao-hsien – the last of The Assassin (2015), is also available on the channel.
After a period of autobiographical – The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), A summer at grandpa’s (1984), A time to live, a time to die (1985), Dust in the wind (1986), and a trilogy based on the history of Taiwan – a City of sadness (1989), The puppetmaster (1993), Good Men, Good Women (1995) -, Hou Hsiao-hsien questioned in the mid-1990s and in early 2000 the report at the time through a youth in search of novelty – at the dawn of the new millennium, so. This youth, it is Shu Qi who played, becoming the muse of the director, the two films ; MILLENNIUM MAMBO , and Tree Times (2005), which tells three love stories in three different eras. Here, the story is that of Vicky, a young girl who would like to escape from his daily life and a violent boyfriend. She took refuge in the cans, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, and especially in the arms of Jack, leader of a small gang who proves to be tender with it.
In the background, the plot is irrelevant (often the case with the director). What is the strength of MILLENNIUM MAMBO, it is the way in which Hou Hsiao-hsien ‘s film a daily disillusioned and repetitive, to symbolize the need to escape. He translated, among others, by the direction of the camera, as dictated by the improvisation of the actors. And this, from the first shot of the film. In slow motion, Vicky walking in a tunnel, her hair that waltz in the wind, and returns several times to the camera. This procedure, like the cigarette smoke that escapes from his mouth, is not a trivial matter on the part of Hou Hsiao-hsien. By these details, he mixes past, present and future. The past, is as much to which Vicky returns, as represented by the smoke which flies away (the smoke or the clouds, for example, have often been used to this effect in Wong Kar-wai), or by what the voice-over : “It was ten years ago already, in 2001… “. The voice of Vicky, who speaks of it in the third person, and ad as well as what we will see has already occurred. This is the very idea of cinema and photography, which capture and freeze in time. This appears as the past, and the future as the present. This intermingling of temporalities will be so symbolic of what it feels like Vicky, apathetic, but who feels the need to escape and finally move on in her life.
Hou Hsiao-hsien filmed with delicacy, melancholy and love her actress, sublime and sensual. Incarnation of a youth that was fleeting (he tries to keep alive its big plans), a bit clueless, still naive and carefree, which drags in the cans, dancing and using drugs occasionally to forget his boredom. A look or a smile, Vicky seduces the camera and the viewer, whereasHou Hsiao-hsien places it in a fascinating scenery. Using neon lights, filters, blur effects, slow motion… The whole, imaged by his director of photography assigned to you, Mark Lee Ping-bin. An image cottony, similar to a sweet dream lulled by a music electro light and is perfectly adapted – A Pure Person – Lim Giong, who returns tirelessly, as if to wrap the movie. Thus, the developer manages to make it beautiful on a daily basis, more hollow, when the same gestures are repeated. MILLENNIUM MAMBO may well last forever, it concludes nevertheless, after two hours on the last scene as simple as light, open to a new start.
Millennium Mambo will be aired on Sunday 11 June at 23h25 on OCS City and is available on the platform of the chain.
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• Realization : Hou Hsiao-hsien
• Script : Chu T’ien-wen
• Main actors : Shu Qi, Tuan Chun-Hao, Jack Kao
• Release Date : October 31, 2001 (broadcast 11 June 2017 OCS City)
• Duration : 2h59min