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The Wayward Cloud DVD Review (Region 3)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/WaywardCloud/WaywardCloudR3.jpg' ALT='THE WAYWARD CLOUD DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>THE WAYWARD CLOUD</FONT><br>Reviewed July 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Chris McEneany&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Chris McEneany</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 2</B></P><P>Apparently a tenuous follow-up to Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Ling’s earlier <i>What Time Is It There?</i> – in so much as it has two reappearing characters – The Wayward Cloud finds us in a Taiwan that is afflicted by a severe water shortage. TV programmes instruct the withering population to drink watermelon juice, although when an enterprising porn film company commence a problematic shoot in young Chen Shiang-Chyi’s apartment building, watermelons begin to take on a different use entirely.</p><P>Filling up the empty bottles that she finds with water stolen from public toilets, the attractive young Chen is painfully unaware that the man she has fallen in love with is actually the star of the porn movies being made back in her building. Sadly enough, the course of true love never runs smoothly as their tentative relationship is hampered by his reluctance to have sex with her. Ironically, she even runs an adult video library that stocks some of his past exploits, too. But, as ever, the truth will inevitably come out. So to speak.</p><P>In a nutshell, that’s about it. Tsai Ming-Ling’s movies, according to the blurb on the packaging, like to examine the human body – its flexibility, weirdness and vulgarity – and his recurring theme is one of leaking, his fascination for the human functions of excreting, vomiting and ejaculating. I must admit that this last element didn’t sound too promising, especially given the obvious, and copious, sexual content of the movie. But, surprisingly, The Wayward Cloud treats sex with either a cold, clinical detachment – the porn film being made down the corridor from Chen with its doleful, uninterested cast and crew – or a propensity to poke fun at it with a series of jaw-droppingly lame song and dance routines that I guarantee will get on the nerves. Quite what these appalling little musical interludes are meant to tell us is, frankly, anybody’s guess. We get intricately choreographed numbers involving troupes of singing girls, all hefting their ubiquitous watermelons and, in one bizarre turn, a male member who is costumed as … well, literally, a <i>male member.</i> And don’t get me started on the rooftop mer-man musings from within the unpleasant water-storage tank!</p><P>The female porn-star is made to suffer all sorts of indignities, most notably losing a bottle-top deep within herself, allowing much teasing - but never revealing - photography, typical, in fact, of all the sex scenes that somehow manage to vanquish any erotic value in favour of bland and perfunctory nude gyrations. But the coup de grace has to be when the crew still use her even though she has already been found collapsed in an elevator, and remains comatose throughout her unwitting performance. Whatever comical intentions Tsai may have envisaged with this tacky sequence, it is still resolutely offensive, no matter what frame of mind you are in. And the denouement that follows on from here, which is actually the climax – no pun intended – of the movie, struggles to be controversial and tragic at the same time. But rest assured, it is merely risible.</p><P>This is a difficult film to analyse. Tsai composes Kubrickian scenes of long, intense-yet-vague, clarity but refuses them reason, or resonance, leaving them ultimately devoid of purpose. As a consequence of this, the viewer cannot help but feel alienated. The lack of dialogue is a stylistic red-herring and the insipid sexuality tries the patience. The film teases and plays with us, yet never once satisfies, enforcing a hollow and embittered resentment. For a filmmaker apparently noted for his cinematic poetry, there is precious little rhyme or reason, eloquence or lyricism, displayed here. He clearly shows a sincere desire to shock, to be outrageous and offbeat but, fundamentally, he lacks the integrity of his own imagery, with a series of inept visions that are bereft of subtext, importance or even, and this is criminal for a film that takes sex as its central theme, titillation. Supposedly trademark juxtapositions are ill-conceived and obvious, their logic confounded by his own shambolic need to be avant-garde. Artistry means nothing without relevance. Imagery is dry and dead without a point. This film has won awards, but this is absolutely no endorsement of quality. And it’s hard to imagine what the cast got out of it either – studying a role, inhabiting a character, only to end up prancing around with a very un-sexy watermelon on their head.</p><P>Terrible filmmaking and a dreadful waste of nearly two hours. Of amusement only to those who seek to impress with their bogus interest in <i>concept</i> art.</p><P><B>Picture : 4</B></P><P>The 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.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/WaywardCloud/WaywardCloudR3_1.jpg' ALT='THE WAYWARD CLOUD'></P><P><B>Sound : 5</B></P><P>Furnished 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.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/WaywardCloud/WaywardCloudR3_2.jpg' ALT='THE WAYWARD CLOUD'></P><P><B>Extras : 4</B></P><P>Sadly – 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.</p><P>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.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/WaywardCloud/WaywardCloudR3_3.jpg' ALT='THE WAYWARD CLOUD'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1004026779" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a></P><P><B>Verdict : 2</B></P><P>An 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.</p><P>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 … <i>you know what.</i> 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.</p><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>THE WAYWARD CLOUD (2005)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=MUSICAL' target='_blank'>MUSICAL</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=COMEDY' target='_blank'>COMEDY</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=DRAMA' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=MING-LIANG TSAI' target='_blank'>MING-LIANG TSAI</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=KANG-SHENG LEE' target='_blank'>KANG-SHENG LEE</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=SHIANG-CHYI CHEN' target='_blank'>SHIANG-CHYI CHEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=YI-CHING LU' target='_blank'>YI-CHING LU</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=KUEI-MEI YANG' target='_blank'>KUEI-MEI YANG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(TAIWAN)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>DeltaMac. Released Friday 24th June 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$25.49</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>2</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>113 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>12</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Traditional Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray in Slipcase</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Q&A Sessions</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     

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