Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Year Released: 2003
Critique of the Film: A young Japanese woman reveals casually that she's pregnant, doesn't know who the father is and spends most of the movie riding around on trains, eating or drinking or hanging out with a book store owner. That's it. Now, I realize Asian filmmakers love making films about their own ennui (Wong Kar-Wai, Edward Yang, Tsai Ming-Liang, Aoyama's Eureka, Unknown Pleasures, All About Lily Chou-Chou, you get the point), but what can you say about a filmmaker who could care less about his own characters or plot or dialogue or anything else besides his minimalist technique? I'm not saying a lot has to happen in a film, but nothing happens and no one cares - so why should I? In the proverbial line to kick Hou square in the ass, please please please let me cut in front (that is, if I'm not already near the front already).
Critique of Myself: I'm sure you might be wondering, hey Matt, why are you bothering with this guy's films at all? You haven't liked a single one to date - maybe he's simply not for you. Maybe you're not smart enough to truly appreciate him. Perhaps, but I'm always hopeful that a filmmaker I may not appreciate will eventually make a movie I do, in fact, like. I'm not going to say Hou is the most over-rated filmmaker in the world (though he's close), and I won't say he doesn't have some kind of talent, but I'm saying he's the most infuriating and cares so little for the audience or even his own creations that I keep wondering why he bothers at all. And it's okay not to care about the audience - Godard made a living at it - but what you set your lens on better reveal some scintilla of thought, passion or creation.