The Puppetmaster

Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Year Released: 1993
Rating: 1.0

Hou is a critical darling that has been gathering unquestionable praise; his approach, similar to Antonioni, forfeits audience interest in favor of detached, cerebral cinema. Shots run on for forever - it sits there, tired, bored - men and women look at each other, watch marionettes jabber on, engage in routine conversations, everything has this marijuana-laced 'focus,' there's no rush to go anywhere. To be honest, I couldn't make heads or tails out of what the message is - a historical awareness of the political problems in the East might help (I plead ignorance) - but I'm sure a lot of 'poetic' types will find themselves agog. (Note: Yes, this is an almost word-for-word repeat of the reviews for Hou's other pictures. As long as he continues with his worn-out ways, I will continue with mine.)