Tsai, Ming-liang. The Wayward Cloud. 2007.
When James Clifford discusses what “diaspora’s borders” are and what these borders exclude, he mentions that the border will draw against “the norms of nation-state.” He writes: “Peoples whose sense of identity is centrally defined by collective histories of displacement and violent loss cannot be ‘cured’ by merging into a new national community” (307). Tsai’s works do not really show the sense of against certain nation either long for Chinese nationality, yet they often address the situation of two disconnected worlds, spaces or time. The character lives in one, and feels unsatisfied about his/her current territory, yet not be able to cross to the other part where he/she is longing for. However, The Wayward Cloud seems an exceptional case. In this film, different worlds, such as the worlds of two characters, the emotion and flesh worlds, and the real and fantasy worlds, all have been connected in various ways. Nevertheless, are the characters “cured” by finally having these connections?
There are many examples of disconnection or failure of connection in Tsai’s films. In I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, every character is having a visible ethnic identity and they are living in a world that is stuck between a forgotten past and unforeseeable future.
Norman is the one who desires for the connection between ethnicities, yet the connection has been broken towards the end of the film when Hsaio Kang betrays him and goes alone with the Chinese girl. In addition, the abandoned constructions sites, where the characters live their daily lives, resemble the space that does not belong to the past yet fails to become to the future. In this way, not only the society that composes with hybrid ethnicities fails to be coherent, but also the past and the future of the society fail to transform from one to the other.
In The Hole, although the hole between two floors suggests the possibility of making a connection, the man and the woman have never really communicated with each other. Both of the characters also do not care about interaction with the outside society either. With the sound from television constantly plays in the background, they seem to be soaked in the information yet not absorb any of them, since they do not do anything in reacting to the narration from the broadcast. Moreover, another example of lost connection is the old man who is looking for a specific brand of the soy paste. The particular taste of such soy paste is a route for the old man to go back to his origin. He loses the connection to his root because that brand of soy paste is not on sell anymore.
In Goodbye, Dragon Inn, there are two worlds overlapped in the film, which are the past and the present world. Both of them exist in the theater at the same time. Through looking, characters in the present world imagine the past world and vice versa. For example, the sequence when the crippled woman is behind the screen, the editing seems to make the woman and the heroin on the screen look at each other back and forth. Also, when the two old men in the auditorium watch themselves in the movie they acted 36 years ago, the two worlds, past and present, exist in the theater at the same time. However, no matter how dense the connection between the two worlds is portrayed through out the most of the film, in the end, the theater is out of business and the connection diminishes.
The sense of disconnection comes from a temptation of making connection, and the temptation reflects a feeling of dissatisfaction of the current status. It may be what is lost from the past or what is wanted from the future causes the feeling of dissatisfaction. Therefore, I am wondering: if Tsai’s films suggest there are things that are lost or wanted, what are they? Among the examples above, I argue that both The Hole and Goodbye, Dragon Inn suggest that there is something lost from the past. On the other hand, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone shows what is sought for the future in the Malaysia society. In the Hole, the old man who could not find the soy paste does not only show his own lost, but his care about the taste also contrast to the two main characters’ careless about food (they only eat instant noodles in the film). Such a contrast reflects what has been lost collectively through the transformation of the society and generations. On the other hand, in I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, when Norman carefully washes out the stain of the mattress, which is the symbol of the political scandal in Malaysia, and shares it with Hsaio Kang, what he does could be metaphor as a process of building a family. In a boarder context, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone shows an idea of building a clean and harmonic society. In the end of the film, the image when all three characters are lying together on the mattress does not come from the memory of Malaysian history, but represent the imagination of the future.
The Wayward Cloud is a very different case compare to the films discussed earlier. Although the film is still very much about the desire of fulfilling the dissatisfaction and making connection, in this film, the connection is successfully made. The opening shot of the film has already suggested the connection.
The shot shows the space of an underground passage from the angle that sees two opposite paths. The woman walks into the space from one end of the passage and the porn star comes in from the other. They cross into each other, exchange look and depart from opposite directions. An underground passage is a location that connects between two spaces. In addition, the two female characters, which represent two people from two very different worlds, meet each other in this location. There are many locations in this film shows the similar meaning—the bridge the woman often walks on and later dances on it with the man, the hall way in front of the woman’s apartment, the stairs way, and the elevator where the woman found the unconscious body of the porn star.
These locations are also all construction from the modernization. When the woman finds the man and plays with him in these modern constructions, the film seems to resolve the dissatisfaction that is often addressed in Tsai’s other works, which is the loneliness in the modern society. Nevertheless, the gap between the couple is the elephant in the film. The gap is what Neri suggested in the article, “Tsai Ming-liang and the Lost Emotions of the Flesh,” which is the lost connection between the emotion and the body. Such a connection finally is made in the end of the film. In the last sequence, when the woman finds out that the man is a porn actor and watches the man having the sex intercourse with the unconscious porn star, the woman starts to moan. The voice penetrates the two spaces through the window, and the woman becomes a part of the sex. During the previous part of the film, the woman desires the physical connection with the man, a physical connection that builds upon the emotional affection. Yet, the man could not give to her, so she stays in the emotional world and does not be able to cross to the physical world. However, at the moment she joins the sex of the porno shooting, she crosses the line. The man put his penis into her, and the physical connection finally successes. Shockingly, the connection that is desired for long time does not appear as a satisfaction. The film end right after this scene, and leaves the aftermath of this connection as an open question.
The tension between lost and found and the disconnection and connection in Tsai’s films do not only represent what the characters in these films need, but also reflect an idea of what the society needs. In this sense, sometime I would argue that Tsai’s films are almost educational. These films seem to promote certain traditional Chinese values in an extremely modern way. On one hand, Tsai’s films suggest the values of belonging to a family, the values of love and the values of cooking a good meal. On the other hand, these values are promoted by characters who live without them. Just like what Tsai notes in the end of The Hole: “In this crazy end of the century, at least we still have Lee’s singing with us.” Lee’s singing refers to a warm and pure emotion in the past. The Wayward Cloud presents an interesting aspect to Tsai’s affection towards the value of belonging and love. When the woman who symbolizes love and emotion is finally connected with the sex organ that used for modern commercial propose, the world freezes. What would it like when good traditional values involve in the modern world? The film has no suggestion for the answer of this question.
 There is a shot in this hallway with similar composition of the shot of the underground passage. The shot shows two paths that go to opposite direction. In this shot, the woman comes back to her apartment with lots of groceries. She runs into the man who climbs on the wall like a child and she walks under the man. They do not only communicate with each other in this shot, but also play with each other. The emotion connection between them is clear and pleasant.
 Lee Shan Lan is one of the Chinese pop singer during the 1960s and 70s.
溝口健二 Kenji Mizoguchi
勅使河原宏 Hiroshi Teshigahara--> Woman in the Dunes
成瀨巳喜男 Mikio Naruse
小津安二郎 Ozu Yazujiro
黑澤明 Akira Kurosawa
市川 崑 Ichikawa, Kon
大島渚 Nagisa Oshima
鈴木清順 Seijun Suzuki
筱田正浩 Masahiro Shinoda
黑澤清 Kiyoshi Kurosawa
是枝裕和 Hirokazu Koreeda
宮崎駿 Hayao Miyazaki
大友克洋 Katsuhiro Otomo--> Akira
北野武 Tekashi Kitano
岩井俊二 Shunji Iwai
今村昌平 Shohei Imamura--> Ballad of Narayama
庵野秀明 Hideaki Anno--> Evangelion
村上隆 Tekashi Murakami
村上春樹 Haruki Murakami
杉本博司 Hiroshi Sugimoto--> photographer, long explosure of the screen in the movie theater
淺野忠信 Tadanobu Asano
金城武 Takeshi Kaneshiro
灰野敬二 Keiji Haino
森 郁惠 Ikue Mori
今天休假一整天，打掃房間、洗衣服、煮了一鍋用大白菜代替高麗菜的羅宋湯之外，看了這部Le Samourai。 男主角極簡的表演方式，老是面無表情，相當引我入勝。現實生活中絕對懶得理會冷酷的罪犯這種個性的人，看著這部電影裡當殺手，超少台詞，亡命於警察與兩個幫派之間的亞藍德倫，我卻忍不住覺得他真的是閃閃發光。外加風衣，長大衣和帽子，真的是有 帥 到。
前幾天才看了Aki Kaurismaki的日蝕三部曲（我不知為什麼叫日蝕三部曲，所以還是把片名報告上：Shadow of Paradis, Ariel 和Match Factory Girl），自以為觀察到Kaurismaki的重要風格之一是簡化演員的表演，但看了Samorai之後，才發覺，Kaurismaki片中的人物的不誇張表演其實是走寫實路線，Jean-Pirrer Melville設計出的這個殺手，才是賦予極簡的表演一個強烈的風格。
除了閃亮亮大明星的表演風格之外，整部片安靜成穩的調調之下劇情卻不時緊張的不得了。老實說，我一直以為我對Film Noir這種類型片的興趣培養不起來，如果這部可以算得上Film Noir（應該可以吧？！在道德邊緣的孤獨男主角，罪犯犯罪，暗黑的房間...等等），我想我終於開始對這樣的片有一絲熱誠的火光了。 感謝感覺應該是個控制狂的Melville，也感謝超帥的亞藍德倫。
Bruce Conner (November 18, 1933 - July 7, 2008)
Also, here is one of his works. A short film that not only fun to watch but also convey a lot of ideas that criticise political and culture issue in US.