What Time Is it There?
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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.Read more ›
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.
If movies were Harry Potter characters, this one would be Luna Lovegood.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Characters here spend lone minutes frozen, doing nothing and saying nothing, as the camera lingers for long periods. Read morePublished on November 12, 2009 by Bradley F. Smith
Although it puzzles, it affects.
I'm not sure I understand but I sense the loss (thoughtime. . .is. . . Read more
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 morePublished on January 18, 2009 by Trevor Willsmer
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 morePublished on August 4, 2004 by Andy Orrock
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 morePublished on June 3, 2003 by S. Calhoun
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 morePublished on May 4, 2003