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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A fun musical with silent relationships.Nov. 12 2009
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Wayward Cloud as I been reading is mostly described as slow film with way to much sex in it. Ok, but, the sex in this film is in no way sexual. If you're buying, renting or barrowing this movie do not watch it as a sexual film or as a piece art erotica. It's not Swimming Pool. It's a film exploring the separation of people through the digital age.
In the film, the main female character is not in anyway involved in pornography but has sexual interest in her old friend which happens to be a porn star. He though isn't able to express his sexual attraction to her because he has absolutely no interest in sex. Sex being his profession and not his pleasure. So he escapes into surreal fantasy of musical sequences. Which happen to be some of the funniest dance sequences I've ever seen.
That said the film is slow, poetic and completely captivating. I couldn't look away. I've seen this film now a few times, each time I've found myself captured by the silent relationship of the characters. This film is not for everyone, not at all. It's for the people interested in Art Films and if you're a person that doesn't scare because some one naked on screen then it wouldn't hurt. But this film is great. Its ability to capture and effect the viewer is more effective than any films coming out now. And it being an almost silent film helps it being a foreign film. Almost no subtitles.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
ArtSept. 12 2009
John B. Goode
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Viewers should take heed of the director Tsai Ming-liang's creed. He creates art and not movies, and this certainly isn't a movie in the way we think of movies. This movie does tell a story, sort of. But the movie really is a series of little-dialoged vignettes interspaced with musical numbers, that may or may not have anything to do with the story.
The story is about a man (a seemingly unenthusiastic porn actor) and a woman who meet and have an affair during drought stricken Taiwan. There is very little spoken dialog throughout. It's definitely not your regular movie which moves along through speech and actions of the actors. Instead, we are shown scenes. Tsai Ming-liang has won numerous awards at film festivals and is widely acclaimed, so who I am to say whether this movie is good or not. I can only say that it is my personal opinion that I thought the musical numbers were great, but the vignettes were very slow. And considering that about half the vignettes were sex scenes, that's saying something.
2nd Tsai experince does nothing to harm my opinion of his artistic credibilityJan. 6 2010
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In an early episode in The Wayward Cloud, Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) spends an aimless afternoon watching television news reports on the ongoing drought and the coincidentally timed falling market price of watermelons, leading the anchorman to jokingly remark that drinking watermelon juice has become more economical than drinking water. The theme of essential substitution proves particularly metaphoric (and revelatory) in light of Tsai Ming Liang's own comments on the symbolism of water in his films (as transcribed in the Editions Dis Voir publication, Tsai Ming Liang): "...I always regard the characters in my films as plants which are short of water, which are almost on the point of dying from lack of water. Actually, water for me is love, that's what they lack. What I'm trying to show is very symbolic, it's their need for love." It is within this context that the ubiquitous and often comical presence of watermelons in the film (used as sexual paraphernalia for an erotic film, a colorful recurring motif in an Umbrellas of Cherbourg-styled dream sequence, and a medium of polite exchange in a display of innocent, mutual affection) can be seen as a surrogate manifestation of the fundamental human need for connection.
The repeated image of elevators in the film provides another recurring element within Tsai's oeuvre. Dynamic and transitory, the elevators (or as in the case of The River, escalators) in Tsai's films recall the desolate, interior spaces of Chantal Akerman's early structural films (most notably, the elevators of Hotel Monterey and the subway cars of News from Home that similarly reflect their role as impermanent vessels for transporting human souls - as commutative mechanisms. This image of mechanical transportation can be seen throughout Tsai's body of work, from the literal vessels of the dead (the mausoleum in Vive l'amour and the cremation urn - and later, Ferris wheel - of What Time is it There?) to the figurative vessels represented by the elevators. Rather than symbolizing an existential station as suggested by Jean Pierre Rehm in the Dis Voir book, the elevators instead seem to provide thematic parallel for man-made conveyances as a metaphor for the displaced physical body itself in contemporary (urban) society: a body that is subject to depersonalized, anonymous ritual and repetition - a phenomenon that becomes acutely evident in the joyless, mechanical, unrealistic, and de-eroticized sex scenes of Hsiao-Kang's (Kang-sheng Lee) porn films. Contrasted against the effervescent - and equally artificial - stylization of the musical sequences, what emerges is a bracing systematic deconstruction of fantasy, role-playing, and illusion.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Drifting...always driftingJan. 6 2010
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This is one of those movies that it is not easy to form an opinion about. Your first reaction upon watching it is pretty much going to be "Huh?" Followed shortly by "Did I really just see that? Did that guy really just masturbate that girl with a watermelon?"
"The Wayward Cloud" ("Tian bian yi duo yun") is difficult to categorize. Is it Art? Pornography? Weird for weirdness sake? Director Tsai Ming-liang (I Don't Want to Sleep Alone) is treading the same tightrope as Lars Von Trier (Breaking the Waves), keeping his balance between the high and the low, the sacred and the profane. This is a film that is bound to offend, confuse, entertain and challenge viewers all with the same imagery.
Somewhat the third part of a trilogy, "The Wayward Cloud" continues the story of Shiang-chyi (played by actress Shiang-chyi Chen) and Hsiao-Kang (played by actor Kang-sheng Lee) from "What Time Is It There?" and the short film "The Skywalk is Gone." Although they share characters, the films are connected more thematically rather than by direct storyline, with Shiang-chyi's isolation from society, and attempting to find connections. Ming-liang has used Kang-sheng Lee playing Hsiao-Kang for about eight films now, but they are not as directly connected as the three films featuring Shiang-chyi Chen. Yes, I know. It gets confusing.
"The Skywalk is Gone" had set up the concept of water slowly disappearing from Taipei in a devastating drought, which is carried over into "The Wayward Cloud," where the scarcity of water has given it a sexual thrill, and people suck down watermelons in order to quench their thirst. Shiang-chyi has reconnected with old boyfriend Hsiao-Kang, who is now an adult movie actor instead of a seller of watches. Their reunion brings few sparks, however, as Hsiao-Kang's job leaves him unable to feel emotion during sex, which has become purely mechanical for him. Both of them are lost in the grey and lonely world of daily scavenging for water, while having an active fantasy life of bright colors and musical sequences straight out of the Peking Opera.
More of a cacophony of images than a plotted film, "The Wayward Cloud" drifts back and forth from fantasy to reality, from raw sex and the ugliness of humanity to brilliant fantasy sequences that would put Busby Berkley to shame. The disconnection of humanity from humanity, the isolation in the modern world, shows up as Shiang-chyi and Hsiao-Kang are unable to find any meaning in their lives beyond base existence.
In terms of sexuality, Ming-liang has pushed all possible boundaries here. Rumored to be unsimulated, (to which I could not answer. It certainly looks real, but they can do amazing things with editing and effects nowadays) "The Wayward Cloud" punctuates almost every scene with sex, although never done in a way to excite. Ming-liang wants to show the hollowness of pornography, and the soullessness of those who perform a basic human function as a way of making a living. This naturally got him into trouble with the Taiwanese government, which finally agreed to release the film uncut due to its artistic merit.
If you make it all the way through "The Wayward Cloud" (and many people don't) you will be left with many questions and ways to interpret the film. Was that girl dead at the end? Did Shiang-chyi cry tears of joy that she finally connected emotionally with Hsiao-Kang, or tears of sorrow that he was simply using her as a receptacle? Ming-liang does not make it easy on you, and many more hours could be spent debating the ideas and merits of "The Wayward Cloud" than are actually spent watching it.
Dismal DVD-R of a delightfully quirky filmDec 30 2013
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Strand Releasing edition of this delightfully quirky film is dismal. Firstly, it's a DVD-R, not a regular DVD. (At least that's what is on sale at amazon.) Secondly, the picture quality is not great.(*1) If you like this film, go to Amazon's UK site and get The Axiom Films Region 2 DVD, which has superior video and audio plus an insightful interview by (Asian) film expert Tony Rayns with the director TSAI Ming-Liang.
Now about the film itself. This film can be considered as a sequel to Tsai's previous feature film "What Time Is It There?" (2001) and short film "The Skywalk Is Gone" (2002)(*2). Hsiao-Kang (Lee, Kang-Sheng) and Shiang-chyi (Chen, Shiang-Chyi), two characters from previous films, meet again by chance and start a relationship in the backdrop of severe drought and water shortage in (southern) Taiwan. In "What Time Is It There?" Hsiao-Kang was a street vendor selling watches on a skywalk where Shiang-chi bought a watch in preparation of her Paris trip. When Shiang-chi returned from Paris in the next film "The Skywalk Is Gone", she visited the old site of the skywalk, in hopes of finding Hsiao-Kang, but the skywalk was removed due to new urban planning projects. Shiao-Kang lost his income and had to take up the job as a pornographic film actor. When they meet again by chance in this film, Shiang-chyi was oblivious of Hsiao-Kang's new job, which she discovers only by accident at the climactic final sequence of the film. -- If you have not seen these two films, this introduction hopefully gives enough background.
Bottom line: skip this DVD-R and get the Axiom Films DVD from amazon.co.uk at
Wayward Cloud DVD Chem Shiang Chyi
(*1) One might argue that this is almost universally true of all American DVD releases of Tsai's films. One notable exception outside the U.S. is a 2011 Taiwan release of Vive l'Amour in BD. (*2) The short film is available as a bonus featurette in DVD Goodbye, Dragon Inn.