PictureThe Wayward Cloud arrives with an anamorphic 1.85:1 image that does a fair job of representing the painstakingly composed frames of Tsai's vision. When the dancing girls appear, they fill the screen with colour and vibrancy in a film that is otherwise quite visually dull. I noticed some bleeding of the reds and a general washed-out look for the darker end of the spectrum. Black levels are reasonably good and close-ups initially look quite detailed. However, a little scrutiny reveals that there are many flaws with this transfer. Besides some often quite excessive edge-enhancement, there is a shimmering on background detail - furniture, patterns etc - and some blurring of faces. A slight ghosting is evident that trails groups of characters in the same shot - the porno crew, for example and artifacting makes its presence felt, too. Larger screens will also pick up the grain that speckles the print.
SoundFurnished with a choice of either a Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 mix, The Wayward Cloud is undernourished by either. To be honest, there is hardly any difference between the two. Whilst the 5.1 mix is certainly clear and realistic - the squishing of fruit and the many grunts and groans - it is hardly a showcase for surround. Everything is up-front with virtually nothing emanating from the rears or the sub. When the song and dance routines burst forth they do it with gusto, though. The music comes across quite loud and punchy. The 5.1 may offer a bit more depth than the 2.0, but ultimately it is an under-achiever.
ExtrasSadly - or perhaps not, given the woeful movie they sit beside - the extras on Disc 2 are all in Chinese and are not subtitled. That's a real shame, eh? What there appears to be, however, is a lengthy Q & A Session with the director and some of the cast that is broken down into various topics, some deathly-dull behind-the-scenes and script reading meanders, the dire songs replayed, what look like a couple of tiny deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. I suppose it may have been interesting to have heard exactly what Tsai had in mind when he made this film, but then anyone who could laboriously create such tedious set-pieces that resonate with absolutely nothing special to say, or to show, would possibly only bore you rigid with his pompous dissection.
But, of course, I'm only surmising here. Those of you that can understand Chinese might, in fact, discover a wealth of information that explains all. And you're welcome to it.
VerdictAn utter waste of time, folks. Basically, you couldn't pay me to watch this film again. It is nothing more than pretentious pap that mocks the creativity of movie-making and imagination of the viewer. Mind-numbingly dull. It gains a couple of marks purely because it got made in the first place, although even that is regrettable. To any fans of Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang ... good luck, I hope you enjoy it. If you can discern any pleasure from such camp banality, then I'm happy for you.
The disc itself offers dubious AV quality, but then again, no matter how good the sound and visual pizzazz may have been - as the old saying goes, you can't polish a ... you know what. The extras may add something but, unless you can speak Chinese, you'll never know. And judging by the interminable Q & A that takes place, this gives you no incentive to learn. Let The Wayward Cloud blow away. For good.
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