The Hole

Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang created this 1998 film for the French TV anthology “2000 Seen By,” which broadcast a 69-minute version titled Last Dance; running 95 minutes, The Hole is the version Tsai prefers, though the film is well worth seeing in any form. Wryly postapocalyptic and gorgeously shot and framed, this present-day SF story charts the effects of an epidemic on a Taipei man and the woman who lives in the apartment directly below his. After the rest of the building has been vacated, a plumber drills a hole in the man?s floor and neglects to fill it up again. Periodically the man or the woman or both break into full-scale musical numbers that re-create Hong Kong musicals of the 50s, using both the voice and inspiration of Grace Chang; the rest of the time, they?re wrestling with the same sort of urban angst and alienation that consumes Tsai?s characters in Rebels of the Neon God, Vive l?Amour, and The River. I like all of his films, but this one has given me the most pleasure. In Japanese with subtitles.

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