What Time Is It There? Screen 7 articles

What Time Is It There?

2001

What Time Is It There? Poster
  • This ending is curiously satisfying, and it certainly encourages the viewer to look back over the film with changed eyes. But it doesn't entirely mitigate the sense that Tsai may be ploughing the same furrow once too often... The performances, visual style, pacing and structure here are all very much like The River and The Hole. So similar, in fact, that it becomes slightly too easy to enumerate the characteristics of a Tsai Ming-Liang movie.

  • Tsai's compositional dynamics owe as much to Ozu and Antonioni as his penchant for stillness is indebted to Bresson; his wider long shots are densely layered, his exterior scenarios recalling Antonioni's cityscapes, inundated by consumerist signs and symbolic of emotional remoteness. Although Tsai's camera never moves during the duration of the film, its self-consciousness is appeased by its organic, voyeuristic attention for filmic space.

  • Existential slapstick? Epistemological comedy? Buddhist farce? Whatever it is, Tsai Ming-liang's witty, wistful new film, What Time Is It There?, is a temporal inquiry that shoulders its philosophical burden lightly... What Time Is It There? is filled with purposeful, if absurd, activity rendered gravely hilarious through Tsai's deadpan, distanced representation of extreme behavior.

  • Through comedic, yet achingly bittersweet episodes of near encounters, duality, and coincidence, What Time is it There? transcends the bounds of geographical, cultural, and personal isolation to map the elusive metaphysical plane of human interconnectedness.

  • It feels more contemporary, at least from a global perspective, than any other new movie in town, and central to it is an examination of separateness and togetherness, unity and disparity in two separate countries in two separate parts of the world. This is a movie deeply interested not only in what it means to be lonely, but also in what it means to perceive connection and similarity in the midst of that isolation.

  • ...Over time, in the company of only oneself, moments of contact swell with meaning, memories carrying into the future a deepened feeling for what's past. Rather than receding, the hunger to recall what's passed imbues meaning in everything, animating the inanimate, impregnating empty space, and bending time.

  • Where Denis’s cinema is tactile, cutaneous, and given to the exploration of bodies, Tsai’s is very much concerned with the absence of touch, the space between bodies—perhaps most poignantly expressed in his What Time is it There? (2002), a film of longing across national boundaries and time zones, as well as clockwork-precision sight gags.

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