A woman in a nurse uniform is lying on a bed. Her legs are spread wide the skirt hiked up. She is not wearing any panties.
Hiding her genitals is half of a big red watermelon. A man is sitting besides her touching the watermelon, licking the watermelon and finally pushing two fingers into the red meat of the watermelon. As he moves the fingers in and out the woman starts moaning.
This is not "American Pie" but Asian watermelon!
Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang
s 8th film is something else. Quite explicit pornographic scenes intermingled with musical song and dance numbers!
In the directors 2001 film "What Time is it there?" Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi
) is going to Paris. Just before she leaves she meets Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng), who sells watches. They click immediately. Now, in "The Wayward Cloud" she is back from Paris.
Shiang-chyi runs into Hsiao-kang in a park, where he is sleeping. They start seeing each other and fall in love. In the only line of dialogue in the film she asks him: "Are you still selling watches?" He is not. He is now a porn actor. At the time there is a severe water shortage in the city. Shiang-chyi is filling empty plastic bottles with water from restrooms Hsiao-kang is sneaking into the citys water reservoirs to bathe. The city encourages the drinking of watermelon juice in place of water.
Thats the synopsis.
At the Berlinale "The Wayward Cloud" was in the main competition. It won three prizes! The Silver Bear for best script, The Alfred Bauer prize for "taking the art film in a new direction" and The Fipresci Prize (International Film Critics).
Director Tsai Ming-liang: "I am not interested in dialogue or telling a story. Im not trying to put over a clear message. My films are a dialogue with myself. At the moment my feeling is, that I want to discuss the body. Body language, bodily needs, bodily functions what the body is trying to say, that we cannot articulate verbally. It is not important, what the film is trying to tell you but what you feel about it. Think about, what you feel."
Tsai Ming-liang uses the same bodies. He has used the same actors in his films for more than ten years. He likes to see them change and develop. He feels an obligation to his actors. He does not want to discard and throw them away.
Today the body is a commodity. People sell their bodies; people watch pornography without thinking of the cost to the bodies involved. In The Wayward Cloud you see a lot of pornographic scenes some of them quite disturbing. Not a few number of people left during the film in Berlin.
Big song and dance numbers (also with pornographic or sexual images) intermingle with the pornographic scenes, and then we have the scenes, where the two lovers are together trying to find out about their feelings for each other.
Confused? Thats only natural. As mentioned this film is not about story or dialogue, which makes it harder to describe in words. This film talks to you in images and most images talks more to your feelings, than your mind.
Do I think it is a good film? It is certainly different, and not many people will leave the theatre without thinking about it and the feelings it stirs up. Not many people will forget it immediately. They may not like it, they may not think it important, but it will make most people think before they come to a decision about it.
And that is what Tsai Ming-liang wanted.