Monday, June 24, 2013

Yi Yi (Yang, 2000): Film Review

Edward Yang 楊德昌 (1947-2007) is the master par excellence of presenting infinite complexity within the commonplace: hidden, yet present if one will ask a question or look a little closer (in urban reflections, by way of new perspectives & backward glances, reflected in a mirror, through a window across a balcony... in spite of verbal miscommunications), like the rhythms of nature.

It is not difficult to describe Yang's film Yi Yi as one of the best films of all time. The film, which begins with a wedding and ends with a funeral, presents multiple moments of contemplation...

NJ contemplates life with and without his high school sweetheart.

... within settings equally, if not more complex, than those of contemporary Taiwan director Hou Hsiao-hsien... like this image in which Nancy is floating, alienated in space within her office -- hovering psychologically and seemingly suspended physically above the cityscape of Taipei:

Yang's use of perspective reminds one of Velázquez's "Las Meninas."

The film's seamless parallel editing of Wu Nianzhen's character NJ and his high school sweetheart Sherry with his daughter Ting-Ting as she goes on her first date effortlessly displays how the repetitions of life -- the inability to start over, the weight of time, and the presence of memory -- all serve as a corollary, by extension, of Taipei's history without ever forcing such associations in a heavy-handed manner.

Yi Yi's films best scenes involve NJ and the Japanese businessman Mr. Oto. At one point Mr. Oto  states: "You are like me.. We can't tell a lie... Risk is high when you do anything for the first time... Why are we afraid of the first time?... Everything in life is a first time... [yet] we are never afraid of getting up in the morning... Why?" ... the delivery is perfect in this, perhaps one of the most moving portrayals of genuine souls caught at the intersections of transnational capital.

And of course, young Yang-Yang (a representation of director Yang himself?) takes pictures of the backs of everyone's heads to help us see what we don't see: that we only grasp half of reality at best, even with all of our images in a visual culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment