Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lives of Future's Past.

81. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2001)
100 Films of the 2000s

It's been too long since I've last posted something here. I've been busy but I'd like to dive back into this as soon as possible and what better way than with a film that most people have probably never seen? From Taiwan the next movie on my list is Hou Hsaio-Hsien's Millennium Mambo, a movie narrated by a woman reflecting on the past of a young girl, Vicky, caught in the rash turmoil of youth, relationships, and growing into herself as an adult and into the world. I always assumed that the narrator was the young girl in the story though even if this is true, it could also not be true, in that she has changed, grown since then into a different woman and these reflections of the past are of a different life entirely.

Like all the Taiwanese films that will appear on this list (there are a few others, stick with me here) it isn't a film for everyone, especially not most mainstream American movie goers. Many would consider this a slow film and I don't think I could really disagree with them for the most part, but I also don't believe that fast pacing in a film or story is necessarily good pacing. First, it depends on the movie or story in question and what kind of experience it's going to deliver, as well as the quality in executing this, there are some films that while having breakneck pacing they never really carry the audience along with it, coming to a conclusion before it's worth celebrating. With Millennium Mambo and Hsiao-Hsien's other films I've seen he uses his time to slow the picture down, it works so well because this picture is about experiencing Vicky's life along with her, much the way the woman reflecting on the past is trying to understand just the reasons behind her decisions. Why she stuck around in an abusive relationship, why she felt she was in love, or wasn't, or wanted to be, and what it means to be young and reckless and to make much of the same choices and same mistakes.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the film is the way it uses the past and future, the way it uses perceptions of time to create a feeling in the picture. The events in the film taking place begin in 2001 but the narration states that this occurred ten years in the past. This allows the movie to at the same time be a piece reflecting on the past but also preparing for the future. Not as much a cautionary tale as it is a work about coming of age and what an influential moment young adulthood can be and how it can shape one's future as well.

10 Films of 2001:

Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2001)
9. Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
10. Waking Life (Richard Linklater)