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Re: [a_film_by] Re: The Wayward Cloud

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  • Craig Keller
    ... I m leaving in a moment to go out of town for a few days, but did want to acknowledge this post, quickly, and give a short response. I didn t mean to
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 19, 2005
      On Dec 19, 2005, at 1:15 PM, Dan Sallitt wrote:

      > For some reason I don't want to identify the last scene with "the
      > great
      > modern inhumanities." Maybe I'm just being contrary: if Tsai
      > wanted us to
      > think that sex and porn were all good healthy fun, one imagines he
      > wouldn't have staged the final scene with an unconscious (or dead?)
      > actress.
      >
      > But I can't help but feel that the lovers are yearning for each other
      > during that scene, and the climax doesn't feel entirely horrific to
      > me.

      I'm leaving in a moment to go out of town for a few days, but did
      want to acknowledge this post, quickly, and give a short response. I
      didn't mean to suggest that the ending was totally an anti-porn
      statement at all. I only meant to suggest in the phrase "the modern
      inhumanities" that the ways and means of interpersonal relations have
      shifted to more 'removed means of interfacing' than exclusively
      direct-contact with one another. Internet message boards might be
      one example; filling loneliness with porn masturbation is another;
      the self-fragmentation of our own identities for the purpose of
      navigating the hundred-thousand discrete milieux of modern life is
      still another, and so on -- "it's just the way it is," and I'm not
      sure Tsai is condemning these practices as much as acknowledging
      them, and kind of tracing out the melancholy around them. I think
      all of these 'removals' are perfectly synthesized in the end scene,
      and then of course broken through, as Lee and Chen 'break through'
      the screen (I'd say the grate is meant to stand in, in one sense, for
      a TV or computer display -- cf. Chen's proximity only minutes earlier
      to the TV screen when the Japanese girl is laying on her floor, and
      the warping of the image given the perspective of the camera angle), -
      as much as is possible-. It's every porn viewer's wish, or mental
      image, that they be 'present' at the act. The resulting rupture is
      that much more powerful then for coming not just off of voyeurized
      porn sex, but porn sex with a comatose and/or dead "living doll,"
      whose body is being manipulated like a puppet by a third party, and
      voyeurized by a fourth (Chen and the crew) and a fifth (whoever ends
      up watching the resulting video). I find the connection re-
      established between Chen and Lee at the screen/grate very moving,
      very tender. I absolutely agree with you that the "stasis" that
      comes on between the two is "voluptuous" -- it struck me as a
      savoring, between the two, of the moment. With the direct cut to
      black, Tsai's name, and the titles, we can assume, or imagine, Chen
      and Lee let it last forever.

      craig.
    • samfilms2003
      ... I m going out on a limb here, just thinking out loud (& I haven t seen Wayward Cloud yet either *) but in that sense isn t Goodbye Dragon Inn sort of -
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 19, 2005
        >I only meant to suggest in the phrase "the modern
        > inhumanities" that the ways and means of interpersonal relations have
        > shifted to more 'removed means of interfacing' than exclusively
        > direct-contact with one another. Internet message boards might be
        > one example; filling loneliness with porn masturbation is another;
        > the self-fragmentation of our own identities for the purpose of
        > navigating the hundred-thousand discrete milieux of modern life is
        > still another, and so on -- "it's just the way it is," and I'm not
        > sure Tsai is condemning these practices as much as acknowledging
        > them, and kind of tracing out the melancholy around them.


        I'm going out on a limb here, just thinking out loud (& I haven't seen
        "Wayward Cloud" yet either *) but in that sense isn't "Goodbye Dragon
        Inn" sort of - preversely almost - (a homage to) a way station -
        between one age of 'discreet milieu' and another; in some sense
        one of its replacements ?

        * but I did see the Rouge flash animation (which maybe we should say
        here constitutes a kind of spoiler ? ...doesn't bother me too much, but..)

        -Sam W
      • iangjohnston
        ... great ... wanted us to ... dead?) ... other ... to me. ... the sex ... There s ... rupturing ... instead. ... the ... impaled ... seem ... Why the tear?
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 20, 2005
          --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Dan Sallitt <sallitt@p...> wrote:
          >
          > For some reason I don't want to identify the last scene with "the
          great
          > modern inhumanities." Maybe I'm just being contrary: if Tsai
          wanted us to
          > think that sex and porn were all good healthy fun, one imagines he
          > wouldn't have staged the final scene with an unconscious (or
          dead?)
          > actress.
          >
          > But I can't help but feel that the lovers are yearning for each
          other
          > during that scene, and the climax doesn't feel entirely horrific
          to me.
          > In a way it would have been more alienating for Lee to complete
          the sex
          > act with his co-star, leaving Chen on the outside of things.
          There's
          > something almost romantic, in a sadomasochistic way, about Lee
          rupturing
          > the context of institutional sex and opting for his lover's mouth
          instead.
          >
          > And Tsai films the climactic act in a rather sexual way. We hear
          the
          > squishing sounds of Chen's mouth working around Lee's penis. The
          impaled
          > Chen falls into a stasis that feels voluptuous to me. She doesn't
          seem
          > entirely unhappy.

          Why the tear? Why the overdetermined parallelism: comatose porn star
          = airline hostess cut-out = Shiang-Chyi? And what's positive about
          the final shot - viewed at a distance from behind, her arms slowly
          dropping to her side, it seems to me a very strong image of defeat.
          Tsai definitely confuses it up at the end, but I can't get the
          positive spin that the reviews that are coming out now are giving to
          this.


          > And Lee was not able to get an erection with Chen in their earlier
          attempt
          > at sex. So, from a genital point of view, this is progress. And
          men tend
          > to take a genital point of view toward sex.
          >
          > Or am I just resisting the idea that Tsai made an anti-porn
          statement,
          > because I don't want him to? - Dan

          I think this might be the case. It is an anti-porn statement, the
          romantic couple alienated by porn. For me Tsai offers no positive
          gloss to the ending.

          Ian
          >
        • Sam Adams
          ... I don t agree, at least in the causal sense you seem to be implying. I think porn is a symptom, not a cause -- it s because they can t connect any other
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 20, 2005
            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "iangjohnston" <nzt@m...> wrote:

            > I think this might be the case. It is an anti-porn statement, the
            > romantic couple alienated by porn. For me Tsai offers no positive
            > gloss to the ending.
            >
            > Ian

            I don't agree, at least in the causal sense you seem to be implying. I think porn is a symptom,
            not a cause -- it's because they can't connect any other way that porn becomes a means of
            substitution. (Remember their first makeout session in the back room of the video store, or
            the amazing shot of her approaching the edge of the TV set as it plays his video, as if its
            curved surface were a permeable membrane). I have to admit I saw no positivity in the
            ending, at least on an emotional level. (I should rewatch it, but I admit I'm a bit reluctant to
            go through it again.) But I suppose in the last moment, when they finally do physically
            connect, there is a certain sanctified silence that passes between them, her tear finally ending
            the movie's long drought.

            Sam
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