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The River
The River
Actors: Tien Miao, Kang-sheng Lee, Yi-Ching Lu, Ann Hui, Shiang-chyi Chen
Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2003     1hr 55min

The strange, elliptical movies of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang (The Hole, What Time Is It There?) defy encapsulation. A description of The River will tell you about a female elevator operator, her pornography-selling...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tien Miao, Kang-sheng Lee, Yi-Ching Lu, Ann Hui, Shiang-chyi Chen
Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Creators: Pen-jung Liao, Ming-liang Tsai, Chen-Ching Lei, Sheng-Chang Chen, Hu-pin Chung, Li-Kong Hsu, Shih-Fang Wang, Shih-Yuan Lin, Shun-Ching Chiu, Pi-ying Yang, Yi-chun Tsai
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Family Life
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/04/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Mandarin Chinese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Don't pay attention to most of these other reviews
K. Kaiser | orange county, california, usa | 08/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It seems like most everyone else reviewing this film missed the point entirely. If the film seems dead like the dummy, then why do you think the dummy was in the film in the first place? The characters are emotionally dead, floating down the river (of life?) like the dummy. Everything means something. Tsai Ming-Liang is not interested in how crazy he can make the camera move. He is one of the few directors I have seen whose films are a reaction AGAINST action, and by action I mean the Tarantino/Rodriguez-style. Which is not to say I don't admire those directors. Ming-Liang's films just hold so much SUBTLETY. The long shots and little camera movement force the viewer not to merely watch but to participate. Why is the camera set up this way? What am I watching? Why am I watching it? In other words, he forces the viewer to make the associations normally presented surface-level to the viewer of most other films. Apparently Wong Kar-Wai is supposed to be the new Godard. But Godard was always more into filming "essays" and filming in such a way that was supposedly not "allowed." So I believe Ming-Liang's films are much closer to Godard's style in that they are reactions against the current norm. He is the son of Ozu and Antonioni, with a complete aesthetic, technical, and emotional motivation behind his style. Ming-Liang is one of the most slept on directors working today. If you have a true love for cinema, not just Kevin Smith, Tarantino, and David Lynch, if you can appreciate a thin line between comedy and drama, if you can allow yourself to be sculpted into a new form of viewing cinema, just as the directors of the Nouvelle Vague once did, then... you get the idea."
Duh...the reviewer apes the film unintentionally
K. Kaiser | 07/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"it's amazing to me how you can summarize this film so matter of factly and made it through it, but can't realize that your emotional response to it was forecoded by the director. do you think he really wanted you to be mesmerized in the western-commodity-entertainment sense of a viewing experience? to fully appreciate tsai's masterpiece, we have to develop a new viewing strategy descendant from antonioni, ozu, etc. if you need a unifying thread to titillate your sense of linear narrative continuity, try the ubiquity of water in its myriad forms and how that relates to the despair and utter alienation of the characters both constricted by a colonized city that has grown too fast to maintain and the tyranny of the oedipal family scenario as it is linked to the very same capitalistic regime. it is a profound meditation on what happens to the spirit in this highly specific and contextualized allegory shot through with mise-en-scene punning and starkly lyrical use of a poetics of absence. try to get on an equation with the artist not just foist your own expectations on the work and then its secrets will flourish."
Beautiful film by a brilliant filmmaker
kinojay33 | 05/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Highly recommended if you are a fan of Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Tarr or other filmmakers who utilize time (especially slow pacing) and landscape to help develop the internal states of their characters. Tsai's films are very meditative and contemplative; they help you to understand a character by observing their daily routine and most intimate moments played out in full. His works are challenging, but well worth the effort."
You Won't Forget It
R. Howard Courtney | Chicago, IL | 01/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is not what we Westerners are accustomed to in movies, therefore we tend to dismiss it. We like all emotions openly displayed. lots of dialogue and the plot must be resolved.
You will find none of this in this movie, but it is certainly worth viewing and once you understand the reason for the lack of interaction between characters, it does make sense.

Another aspect that makes the movie difficult is the long scenes when nothing is happening on the screen. That was the director's approach.

The family is totally disfunctional as a unit. The parents never speak to each other, they all eat alone, and they function in their own little worlds with virtually no emotion.
Even sex is random with no emotions attached.

After the encounter between the son and the father, no one speaks of it and life continues on as before. There is no resolution to anything. That is the horror of the whole movie."