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What Time Is It There? (Ni na bian ji dian)


Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 2001, 116 mins. 35mm. With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Lu Yi-ching. Hsiao-kang, now selling wristwatches on the streets of Taipei, has a fateful brief encounter one day with Shiang-chyi, a young woman about to leave for France. Things are messy at home, with Hsiao’s mother seeing his father’s reincarnated spirit everywhere, so he escapes by fantasizing about the stranger he barely knows, and the film details their parallel stories. While he sets Taipei clocks to Paris local time, she wanders a strange city alone; while he watches The 400 Blows, she has a chance meeting with star Jean-Pierre Léaud in a Parisian cemetery. “Filled with purposeful, if absurd, activity rendered gravely hilarious through Tsai’s deadpan, distanced representation of extreme behavior.” (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice).

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