Tuesday, February 23

Blue Gate Crossing (Taiwan, 2002)


Park Jin-Young or JYP is to be blamed for the inescapable "Nobody" by the Wonder Girls, and 2PM's brooding pop hit, "Again & Again." Actually it was Felice Tusi, a fellow contributor to allmusicjunkies.com, who brought my attention to JYP's secret to writing a string of hits.

Repetition.

Nobody, nobody but you. Again and again and again and again. Like a broken record that's record-breaking. If it weren't for the catchy hooks, it wouldn't be different from frustrated begging for belief. For loyalty.

Yee Chin-Yen's Blue Gate Crossing is brimming with questions repeated over and over by Zhang Shihao, a teenage boy (Wilson Chen/Chen Bo-Lin), but the answers are never kind. Confusion in love has never been this gorgeously realized, with all its awkward and clumsy interrogation. If I could, I would, question and question again and again. What is
childish comes across as frantic desperation. So what does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?

There's rhythm in the words. There is dance in the gestures. Zhang Shihao wants to keep in beat with Ming Kerou (Kwai Lunmei) whether it's dancing, stomping on a note, or arguing. In his head, it's about timing. Moving as one to be one. Ming Kerou, on the other hand, wants to keep in step with someone else.

The film is busy with silence. The side glances and long last looks fill the space of a sparse script, but the silence is never languid. It oftentimes feels like Yee Chin-Yen is writing the perfect pop song. There's a hummable beat to Blue Gates Crossing's pacing, fluidly going through the motions of love and heartbreak. There is a pop hook to the words, which stick and stay with you. There is that butterfly-in-the-stomach warmth, that lingering last note as Ming Kerou watches Zhang Shihao's back, that killer lyric as the strings soar: I can't see myself, but I can always see you.

Nobody, nobody but you. *****

The Region 3 DVD has several extras including a Making-Of, Wilson Chen's trip to Hong Kong to promote the movie and interviews with the cast and director. No english subtitles on all the extras though.

5 comments:

Kevin (Ket) said...

Oh no! I Facebook'd an old guy?! Joking...I'm not really "young" anymore either.

You really do have a "sheer love of words" that shows every time you write a review. I'm a little jealous that the metaphors you use don't come to me as fast.

Blue Gate Crossing is the perfect example of a movie that doesn't have to be dull just because it's quiet. Actually, I rather like how one other review described the movie: "One aspect of the film that drew me in immediately was the minimal use of dialogue. Contrary to what we're shown by Hollywood, teenagers don't discuss their feelings with each other: rather, they often tend to be silent, either sullen or shy or tongue-tied."

There used to be a television show around here that was criticized for how it portrayed its teenagers. The criticism went something like this: "These high school students look like they're in college and talk like they're professors."

Thor Bee said...

Ouch. It's up to you then to update me on what you young folks are, err, digging. Heh.

Is Dawson's Creek the TV show that was criticized for its pompous breakdowns? That was the last teen-oriented show I followed. I was around your age then. Laughable.

In most of the Asian films we've seen so far, the kids are usually sullen and grasping for words. And it gets more interesting when they turn to other ways/gesture to express themselves. But I was really blown away by Blue Gate Crossing. It's up there with LoS and Hormones. There's a bit of Wong Kar Wai in the dialogues, too.

Have you seen Tokyo Sonata yet? Conversations and narratives around the characters' silence, frakking beautiful.

Kevin (Ket) said...

"Have you seen Tokyo Sonata yet? Conversations and narratives around the characters' silence, frakking beautiful."

I bought it and it was sent yesterday, but I don't expect to get it before next week. I'm expecting a couple actually: Tokyo Sonata, Last Life in the Universe, and The Taste of Tea and I just e-mailed the site I bought Waiting in the Dark from and they explained to me tha their supplier closed for 10 days due to Chinese New Year, so that's why my order is taking longer than usual.

Kevin (Ket) said...

"Ouch. It's up to you then to update me on what you young folks are, err, digging. Heh."

We're living in dark times: Hannah Montana, movies about giant transforming trucks for adults, idiotic phrases like "Favorite Book: wuts a book?"...

Thor Bee said...

Last Life in the Universe is puzzling and lonely, and somehow, it's a perfect combination. (LOST's 3rd season season-ender was a nod to the film's opening sequence I thought). Monrak Transistor is my current Pen-Ek favorite. Do you get easily affected by what you watch? I do. Your new purchases are quite, uhm, heavy.

Dark times, yes. When TF: Revenge of the Fallen (and 2012) raked in a gazillion dollar, I kind of knew the end is nigh.