Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Wayward Cloud (CHINESE)

(Tian bian yi duo yun)
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Taiwanese Titillation Flick Features Watermelon as a Metaphor

Shiang-chyi (Shiang-chyi Chen) has just returned home to Taipei from Paris at the height of a drought that is threatening the country’s water supply. She refreshes herself by drinking watermelon juice because the Taiwanese government has suggested that people start substituting it for drinking water, given that its price is now cheaper than that of the dwindling natural resource.
Somewhere in the same apartment building, we find her ex-lover, aspiring porn actor Hsiao-Kang (Kang-shen Lee), making creative use of a watermelon as a sex toy on the Japanese woman co-starring in his latest x-rated video. And it’s not long before Shiang-chyi and Hsiao-Kang cross paths in the hallway and coyly proceed to rekindle their lust.
Meanwhile, all over the city, people seem to be celebrating watermelon, as folks can be found participating in watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests as well as praising its virtues in a song and dance number while twirling watermelon-embossed umbrellas. Via this catchy ditty we learn that the gift of a watermelon has meaning, depending on its size and shape.
For instance, a small yellow one means you’re good friends, a big red one means you’ve got a crush, and regular ones are reserved for the most passionate. The omnipresent watermelon is ostensibly intended to serve as a metaphor, although exactly for what might be difficult to discern.
In any case, The Wayward Cloud is a flick which is big on titillation, but otherwise minimalist, especially in terms of dialogue. Directed by Ming-liang Tsai, the film features his third pairing of Shiang-chyi Chen and Kang-shen Lee who previously appeared in the equally-inscrutable What Time Is It There and The Skywalk Is Gone.
A curiously-compelling and impossible to pigeonhole romantic romp which blurs the line between pornography and legit cinema in magnificent fashion.

Excellent (4 stars)
In Mandarin with subtitles.
Running time: 114 minutes
Studio: Strand Releasing Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Theatrical trailer and trailers for four other Strand films.

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