Sunday, January 25, 2009


Sometimes a film is so unusual and lovely that it gets into my marrow. The last time it happened for me was The Spirit of the Beehive.

What Time is it There? is a quiet masterpiece--and literally quiet, because there is about ten minutes of dialogue in a two-hour film. If you need traditional plot in your flicks, avoid this one like the plague. It moves like an ethereal dream.

A young man in Taiwan sells gaudy plastic digital watches from a case on the streets. One day a beautiful woman asks to buy the watch on his wrist because she likes it; he tries to offer her those in his merchandise case, but she is not interested. She tells him "I am going abroad tomorrow, to Paris." I don't know that I should say much more, because the plot is so light and airy. Let's just say the rest of the movie is about peculiar obsessions: a dead woman pines for her deceased hubby in a most peculiar fashion; the watch seller makes it his mission to set every clock in Taipei to Parisian time; a Taiwanese woman in Paris finds the city of romance an unbearably cold and lonely place. Along the way there are curious references to Truffaut.

I can't describe the effect of this film, but the cinematography and the colors and the acting are exquisite. I can't wait for the sequel The Wayward Cloud.