Tag Archives: Ming-liang Tsai

LIST CANDIDATE: THE WAYWARD CLOUD [TIAN BIAN YI DUO YUN] (2005)

DIRECTED BY: Ming-liang Tsai

FEATURING: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Sumomo Yozakura, Kuei-Mei Yang

PLOT: During a nationwide drought, a Taiwanese porn star courts a shy and lonely

Still from The Wayward Cloud (2005)

apartment dweller obsessed with watermelons; characters occasionally burst into fantasy song-and-dance numbers.

WHY IT’S ON THE BORDERLINE: As a romantic, pornographic, hallucinatory musical that makes sure you will never see watermelons or Taiwanese sex movies quite the same way ever again, The Wayward Cloud is audacious and, yes, weird.  The powerful downside is the fact that, outside of the musical sequences, Tsai’s minimalism—long takes, a motionless camera, and the absolute minimum amount plot and dialogue he can possibly get away with—is the most acquired of acquired tastes.

COMMENTS: There are seven memorable scenes in The Wayward Cloud—three bizarre sexual encounters (and a couple of ordinary ones) and four outlandish musical numbers.  Given all that’s going on, it’s amazing that writer/director Ming-liang Tsai still managed to keep the script so arid, and to convey an overall feeling of malaise rather than excitement.  Without these seven scenes, the movie would hardly exist; the wisp of a plot involves a boy-meets-girl-and-never-quite-loses-her story that’s told in nearly dialogue free episodes of long takes of actors reacting to nothing.  The meet-cute (or in this case, meet-mute) involves Shiang-chyi coming upon Hsiao-Kang while he’s napping, then sitting down across from him and taking a nap herself.  It’s five minutes of hot napping action before they exchange their first words.  (It’s helpful to know that these characters have met before, in Tsai’s What Time Is It There? [2001], and in a subsequent short film.)  Hsiao-Kang doesn’t divulge his job as a professional video gigolo to his new girlfriend, but there’s no cover story, no sense of urgency that she might discover his vocation, and there’s nothing divulged about her to suggest she would care either way.  There is a quiet, believable sort of intimacy in scenes where Hsiao-Kang smokes a cigarette held between Shiang-chyi’s toes; the lovers are so comfortable together they don’t have to say anything to each other.  But we, the viewers, still wish they would say something for our benefit.

Fortunately, there is the sex.  It’s graphic, but not explicit: there’s no visible genital- Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: THE WAYWARD CLOUD [TIAN BIAN YI DUO YUN] (2005)