Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rebels of The Neon God 1992

As sharp and dangerous as a double edge razor blade. Made in 1992 this is the film that put Tsai Ming-liang on the map of the international film scene and with good reason. Recently restored to its deeply saturated neon colors, this is a swift and sharply focused film that concerns the lives of 4 troubled young people living in Taipei in various degrees of despair and disgust. Two of the young men are petty thieves who hang out in video arcades and do little crimes including robbing telephone and video game cash boxes, one is a young girl who works at a skating ring and the 4th is a depressed student living at home with his parents who are constantly on his case and he also does some terrible things. Taipei ragged and run down is also one of the stars of the film and so is water and food. One of the young men lives in a constantly flooded apartment (the water rises from a drain in the floor) with his brother who by the way we never see and many scenes include food. You can almost smell the damp and mildew, the garbage and the greasy food smells as the pollution from the many motorbikes hits you in the face. This is probably Ming-Liang’s most accessible films linear and concise with nods to American cultural icons especially James Dean and his Rebel without a Cause and with the same homoerotic longings that the earlier rebel had. Still this might not be an easy film for American audiences to swallow, and that’s too bad because I loved it.


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