Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dong (Ming-liang Tsai, 1998) aka The Hole

The Hole (Ming-liang Tsai, 1998)
Rating: 9.6

As the sounds from the television news tell us, an epidemic has spread through Tapei resulting in regions of the city being quarantined. The city is mostly abandoned, but a few stubborn residents remain. Among those choosing not to evacuate is a man who owns a small grocery store that is rarely shopped. He spends most of his time getting drunk and being infatuated with a stray cat. The woman who lives below him, has also chosen not to leave. The pipes above her leak, flooding her apartment and she hires a plumber to correct the problem. The plumber leaves a hole in between the man and woman's apartment without ever fixing it, and we are left to view their interactions, often leading to comedic results while still exploring alienation, loneliness, and despair in an eerily apocalyptic atmosphere. Aside from the fantastic conceptual plot and set design, the sound design is incredible also worth mentioning. The constant sound of rain and dripping/running water haunts the soundtrack along with ambient city noise, along with a few victims screams. Ming-liang Tsai oddly enough sporadically inserts several song and dance numbers throughout the film in the form of daydreams, showing off his versatility as a director. These sequences set to the music of Grace Chang, are the antithesis of Tsai's usual work with lavish costuming, more rapid cutting, and quick camera movements, as well as lighting effects, but are arguably the best part of the film, and included in the excellent and quite memorable conclusion.

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