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What Time Is it There? (2001)

Kang-sheng Lee , Shiang-chyi Chen , Ming-liang Tsai  |  NR |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu, Tien Miao, Cecilia Yip
  • Directors: Ming-liang Tsai
  • Writers: Ming-liang Tsai, Pi-ying Yang
  • Producers: Bruno Pésery, Laurence Picollec
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: August 20, 2002
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B000068TP3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,050 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "What Time Is it There?" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A quirky comedy about a young man who sells watches in the streets of Taipei. He sells his own watch to a young woman who is leaving for Paris the next day. He is so moved by this encounter that he goes around setting all the clocks in Taipei to Paris time, in order to keep some connection with her.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Ming-liang Tsai's films are nothing like what most audiences are used to as his films have very little, or almost no, dialogue. This means that the dynamic force of Tsai's films are the images and the scenes that he creates with a meticulous perfection as if each scene could be hanging by itself in the Louvre. Through doing this the audience is compelled to participate cerebrally and try to make there own decisions on what Tsai is trying to say. Even so, Tsai creates a story where each scene is interconnected in a very distinct manner. It should also be mentioned that Tsai has been compared to cinematic geniuses such as Robert Bresson and Jacques Tati.

What Time Is It There? begins with an opening scene where an old man sits in melancholic loneliness next to the kitchen table smoking a cigarette. The scene goes on for a good five minutes as the old man struggles with the inhaling and exhaling of the cigarette before he departs the earthly world. The old man is the main character's father, Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-Sheng), who works as a street vendor selling watches in Taipei, Taiwan. Hsiao-kang is a Buddhist and he believes in reincarnation, which means that he must follow certain guidelines in order to help his father have the best possible reincarnation.

Through Hsiao-kang's work he meets the attractive Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-Chyi) who wants to buy his personal watch as she finds it very appealing. At first Hsiao-kang refuses as he is in mourning and it would violate the guidelines of his belief. However, after some thinking Hsiao-kang agrees to sell his watch to Shiang-chyi as she needs it for her trip to Paris, France.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic of architecture in film December 22, 2003
By Karen
I've never reviewed before, but I just had to make a point against some of the negative reviews. To those reviewers who claim that What Time is it There? is full of long, boring shots, I emphatically suggest that you rethink the reason you like to watch movies. If you're into movies for action, gags, gimmicks, and stars, then yes, stay away from this one. But to watch this movie with a focus on its fantastically constructed shots, moving portraits of the human soul, and powerful images of modern city life is to understand why sometimes the architecture of a shot can speak volumes more than catchy dialogue and special effects.
I actually got a chance to hear Tsai-Ming a few months ago, where he joked with the audience before a screening of this film, speaking through an interpreter and saying: "Other people ask me why I use such little dialogue. I ask them, 'Why do you use so much?'" He made a similar comment about the lack of recognizable musical soundtracks in his film. What the director is trying to explain here is that there are other ways of capturing attention and making a point, and this movie is incredibly effective at that. What Time is it There? is not only a powerful story about loneliness, familial isolation, and cultural identity, but shot so marvelously that nearly every shot took my breath away. I highly, highly recommend this film to anyone interested in the construction of a shot, and how the way that a character interacting with his or her space can be even more effective than dialogue in conveying their emotional relationships to themselves and the people around them.
As far as this DVD specfically, I can tell you that this movie is one to be seen on the big screen. So if you have an enormous television, you're in for a treat. However, the beautiful simplicity of the bare shots and the architectural construction both interior and exterior shines through no matter what format you're watching it on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wounding and unforgettable March 15, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Many have griped of its laconic pace (to put it nicely), but I barely noticed the length of Ming-liang Tsai's elegiac masterpiece - quite the contrary, his concept of "time" is central to the movie. You'll notice there's not a single camera movement in the movie, everything is staged within a particular confined space, and that's because there's not a second of the movie that's not particularly planned out. It tells the story of three characters aching for anything else in their lives, and it does so with unobtrusive observation, a full creation and specification of every nuance of their actions. That makes every action - the restrained ones, the quirky ones, and the sexual ones - a quiet declaration of longing. That is to say the events of the movie are ordinary, for some, too painstakingly ordinary. For those that sign onto its stark stule, though, it'll be an ordinariness that, with nearly silent gestures, moves to the transcendent.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid film all around March 15, 2003
This movie is great. There is a quality to how it is filmed that really just reaches out and grabs you. The movie is well paced (some might call it slow) with lots of meticulously constructed long shots. The composition of these long shots is incredible, each detail in the background, every bit of lighting has been so carefully crafted to put you right there. It's an incredibly lonely film, but beautiful. If you liked "Down By Law" you'll probably enjoy this for many of the same reasons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful. August 10, 2009
By Dave
Melancholy and sweet and weirdly humorous; our young hero begins the movie in impossibly bleak circumstances... and goes down from there. The end result is almost comedy: "normal" life is mostly hiding out watching the 400 Blows over and over and aimlessly spending days at the worst possible job imaginable. The entire movie slowly, quietly digresses into a more and more eccentric orbit as our hero follows his strange compulsion to reset every clock he sees to Paris time.

If movies were Harry Potter characters, this one would be Luna Lovegood.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Dull in a good way
Characters here spend lone minutes frozen, doing nothing and saying nothing, as the camera lingers for long periods. Read more
Published on November 12, 2009 by Bradley F. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars I need the Cliff Notes. . .the Monarch Notes. . .on this one
Although it puzzles, it affects.
I'm not sure I understand but I sense the loss (thoughtime. . .is. . . Read more
Published on August 14, 2009 by The Concise Critic:
3.0 out of 5 stars Works rather better in the memory than on the screen
What Time is it There? is one of those films that works better on paper or in the memory than while you're actually watching it - there's only so much non-communication shot in... Read more
Published on January 18, 2009 by Trevor Willsmer
2.0 out of 5 stars Homage to Truffaut lost on this viewer
I'm as open as the next person to expanding my cinematic horizons. Case in point: the Korean film '301/302' - distasteful to many, I stomached my way through it (apologies for... Read more
Published on August 4, 2004 by Andy Orrock
2.0 out of 5 stars TIME�S UP
Between Taipei and Paris time is the connecting force between two young Taiwanese. Virtually strangers, a woman persuades to buy a watch that a street vendor is wearing before her... Read more
Published on June 3, 2003 by S. Calhoun
1.0 out of 5 stars slow moving and distasteful
The story of the watch and its connection showed a promise that was never fulfilled, and might have even been defiled, in this slow-moving and awkward movie. Read more
Published on May 4, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing and truly unique
The emotional impact of this film and the means by which it achieves its portrayal of three lives in their search for meaning and how we assign meaning within spaces of time is... Read more
Published on February 3, 2003 by dave-o
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