Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Connection by Fate (Wan Jen,1998): Mini-Film Review

Connection by Fate 超級公民 (Wan Jen 萬仁 , 1998), the third film in Taiwan director Wan Jen's “super citizen” trilogy, reminds me of French films of the 1990s in that it--as the director has also concurred--is not driven by a cause-and-effect plot, but rather emotion. In it, a taxi driver named A-te encounters, and discovers a way to assist, the spirit of an indigenous man trapped between the world of the living and the departed in late-1990s Taipei.

Wan Jen's films are somehow perfect despite their imperfections: asynchronous sound, low budget effects, and non-professional acting. In the 1960s and 1970s cinema of Taiwan, poor production values are comical. Here, it is impossible to be distracted because the screenplay is superb. Wan Jen is a transcendent director, a master of depicting memory and a master of seamlessly juxtaposing time periods and locations, most often via the use of a soundscape that is both beautiful and haunting.

Corollary notes: I also found fragments of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Café Lumière (produced five years later) in Wan Jen's film: shots on the MRT and a scene in a small train station built during the Japanese colonial era come to mind. Additionally, a few rural tracking shots from HHH's Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996) overlap with Wan Jen's depictions in Connection by Fate.

For my list of Taiwan Cinema Toolkit film reviews, click this link here.

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