What Time Is It There?

"Weak"

What Time Is It There? Review


After opening with a static, four-minute shot of an old man sitting in a chair, the conceptual Taiwanese drama-comedy "What Time Is It There?" does pick up a bit -- but there's an element of that cinematic passivity in evidence throughout the rest of the film.

At its heart are three interconnected stories just begging to be infused with a little clever commotion, which director Tsai Ming-Liang keeps in short supply even though he's quite daring and creative in his quiescent observational style.

One story is about the old man's forlorn widow (Lu Yi-Ching), who becomes obsessed with coaxing her husband's spirit to return to their home. The second follows the old man's son (Lee Kang-Sheng), a street vendor who falls instantly in love with a girl (Chen Shiang-Chyi) who buys a dual time zone wristwatch from him on her way to the airport for a flight to Paris. The girl's trip to the City of Lights then becomes the third narrative.

As Chen dabbles in the freedoms of self-discovery, the young man who can't get her out of his head goes about Taipei, compulsively setting every clock he can get his hands on to Paris time. This includes clocks on the tops of buildings, which requires some surreptitious sneaking about, and the clock in his mother's living room, which she mistakes as a sign from the dearly departed.

Much oddity ensues on all fronts, which Tsai records exclusively in lengthy, curious and arcane static shots that become fascinating in their own way after a while. The characters are developed -- and developed well -- largely through body language since dialogue comes along only about every fourth scene.

But Tsai often lingers just as long on the irrelevant as he does on the engaging, which gradually turns "What Time Is It There?" into "How Long Is This Movie?" Couldn't he, for example, lose the scene in which we watch Lee wake up, take a leak in a clear plastic bag for no apparent reason, then go back to sleep?

All of this is done with a countenance of such intentional lethargy that the film starts to feel like it will take up every minute of those nine hours our hero adds to the timepieces of Taipei.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Homegreen Films, Arena Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Hsiao-kang, as Shiang-chyi, as Mother, as Father, Cecilia Yip as Woman in Paris, Chen Chao-jung as Man in Subway Station, Tsai Guei as Prostitute, Jean-Pierre Léaud as Jean-Pierre/ Man at the Cemetery, Arthur Nauzyciel as Man at Phone Booth, David Ganansia as Man at Restaurant

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.