Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Time Is It There? (2001)

This one seemed sweet: the description said the movie was to be about a 20-something man who is a street vendor specializing in watches meets a 20-something girl who then goes away (from Taiwan) to Paris; he's heartbroken and starts setting all of the clocks in Taiwan to Parisian time. Not so much.

So the guy is disturbed because his father has just died and his mother is slowly slipping into insanity as a result of the death and the Buddhist practices which encourages communication with the spirits, etc. The guy barely meets this girl who insists on buying the watch off of the guy's wrist instead of the bazillion he is selling. Literally they are only in the same place for minutes and exchange no words other than the perfunctory ones needed to purchase something. Yet the guy starts changing the clocks and watching French movies. But he also refuses to leave his bedroom to go pee so we see him peeing in a plastic bag (once) and a plastic bottle (once and then we see him "watering" a plant with the contents so he can re-use it). There are also simultaneous odd sexual encounters, the mother having a romantic dinner with the supposed spirit of her dead husband and then masturbating with something that seems to be of cultural import although I'm not sure what it was, the guy having sex with a prostitute in his car (after having drunk a whole bottle of French wine) after which they both go to sleep and she steals all of his watches, and the girl in Paris has a strange maybe almost lesbian experience with a woman she has just met (while vomiting in the restroom of a coffee shop) but has nevertheless moves her belongings from her hotel to this woman's hotel.

Soooooo. The movie isn't all that great. It tries to hard to be enigmatic when there isn't anything to be enigmatic about. The mother is grieving. The son is grieving. The girl is lost in a foreign country. Not ground breaking. I do think the movie missed the real story within itself. The only part that actually got any sort of emotional response from me is the mother's attempts to keep her dead husband's spirit within the house by blocking out all of the light. Her descent into madness is interesting yet underplayed in the film.

I wouldn't watch it unless you're being silly and OCD about a movie list . . . .

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